It's time to go back to school and learn something new. Well, what are you waiting for?
Singing Ever thought it criminal that your shower-based gurgles aren’t shared with the wider world? Do you secretly yearn for a Dubai’s Got Talent franchise so you can out-warble a 14-year-old Mariah Carey impersonator from Ras Al Khaimah? Then help is at hand, in the form of vocal coach Maria Glück. ‘Operatic singing extends your vocal ability so much you end up making sounds you would never have thought yourself capable of – it’s truly amazing,’ she enthuses, from Sarah’s Music School in Umm Suqeim. Warm ups tend to involve lots of ‘aaahing’ and ‘laaaing’ before testing out your vocal range.
‘People make many strange noises in this room,’ says Maria, a twinkle behind her thick-rimmed spectacles. ‘Noises they didn’t think they were capable of. But I make sure they know that any yodels heard in this room, stay in this room.’ Students range from teens that fancy a career in music, to stressed-out business folk that want to improve their posture and indulge in the childlike pleasure of a good-old-fashioned sing song. Maria Glück is an opera singer and vocal coach. Lessons are Dhs180 per half-hour, Dhs250 per 45 minutes or trial lessons are available for Dhs100. Contact Maria on 050 455 6507 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Molecular gastronomy If the folk at Tang restaurant at the Le Méridien Mina Seyahi are to be believed, for complete culinary satisfaction at home, it may be necessary to invest in a can of liquid nitrogen and tuck it away between the ketchup and soy sauce. Following in the footsteps of Heston Blumenthal and the like, chefs Stuart and Chris create concoctions that are part food, part science. Occasionally, these highfalutin artistes of eating teach the lumpenproletariat how it’s done.
These boys have deconstructed the Waldorf salad, created caviar from beetroot and orange, turned mango juice into paper and made a Chinese cracker that tastes like hot chocolate. Their cupboard contains some 1,400 products (including 26 types of salt), and lessons often start with the freezing of a tomato ‘espuma’ or foam, that has been set in liquid nitrogen. It tastes crispy on the outside, fresh in the middle and makes a pretty good party trick. Best of all, you get to eat what you create (unless you discover you’re a terrible cook). Tang classes cost Dhs750 per person. You can have up to four people per class. Call 04 399 3333 Oud playing The oud (pronounced ‘ood’) is the great-granddaddy of plucked instruments, having been taken to Europe in the eighth century, becoming the lute and, eventually, the guitar. It’s a delicate little music maker, and not forgiving to clumsy paws, but music teacher Nasser Abeidoh assures pupils that, like any instrument, the oud is merely a tool for expression.
After three or four lessons under his watchful eye, you’ll be able to hold the instrument properly, play a few chords, handle the special pick and identify notes by ear. Pretty soon any cloth-eared halfwit will find themselves… well, a cloth-eared halfwit who can play ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ at roughly the right tempo and with most of the notes in the correct places. It’s surprisingly satisfying. Oud have thought it? The Music Chamber is located in the Crowne Plaza, Sheikh Zayed Road. A package of four lessons costs Dhs540, but prices vary so call 04 331 6416, or visit www.music-chamber.net for more info. For ages 12 and above only Horse riding If your time in Dubai has been more 14-hour days than Bedouin nights, it may be time to mount a nag. The whinnying quadrupeds are firmly ensconced in the imagery of Arabia, and Dubai is well fixed for all things equine. However, novices should beware; not only can horses tell if you’re inexperienced, but they seem to take great joy in chucking you about like a bag of potatoes on a spin-cycling washing machine.
Arabians are particularly frisky compared to European breeds, and many of those used for training here are ex racers, and so have even more pep. But, there’s no need for wussy wailing. First timers get to do gentle circuits in a paddock and, after a few rounds, progress to using the reins, then to turning left and right, and (most importantly) stopping. After a few months in the paddock, you may even be able to get out into the desert. And then the fun really begins. Private riding lessons at Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa are by appointment, Dhs150 for 45 minutes. Call 04 804 8861
Ikebana This is ‘one for the ladeez’. Fujiko Zarouni has been teaching ikebana in Dubai for the past 10 years. Fujiko’s classes are women-only and teach the peaceful, 600-year old art of ‘flower positioning’.Ikebana is all about the composition of your blooms, and there are seven tenets of how to judge a single piece: line, colour, mass, movement, balance, newness (or individuality) and harmony. A part of samurai practice, Ikebana is still encouraged among those learning martial arts. You begin with a circular pan of water with a pinhole stem-holder floating in it.
The basic upright ‘moribana’ is the grounding for most ikebana arrangements. The composition is formed on a clear triangular shape comprised of ‘shin’, the tallest dominant flower, ‘soe’, placed subordinately to shin, and ‘hikae’, usually the defining colour in the arrangement and fixed at the shortest height. First efforts inevitably cause a surge of artistic pride. Until, that is, Fujiko reveals what some of the permanent students can muster, and you realise just how much there is to learn. Ikebana Sogetsu Group meets opposite Syrian Consulate, Al Waheda, Deira. Lessons on Tue, Wed and Thu. One lesson (one arrangement) is Dhs60, two Dhs100, including flowers. Lessons are for women only. Call 04 262 0282 for more info
And the rest…
There is plenty more to keep hobby enthusiasts occupied. Try your hand at jewellery making at Bead Palace and Accessories (Villa 5, 50b, Jumeirah Beach Road, opposite Epco, 04 395 2771). It sells beads and includes a training centre for novices. If that sounds too fiddly, Café Céramique (Jumeirah Town Centre, 04 344 7331) offers DIY ceramic decoration. If you’d prefer something louder, indulge your inner musician by learning an instrument at the Crystal Music Institute (Al Shafar building, opposite Karama Municipality, 04 396 9898).
They also offer dance lessons. To improve relations with your neighbours, you could always learn Arabic. Eton Institute of Languages offers courses in more than 17 tongues, and has occasional free Arabic lessons. Call 04 360 2955 or see www.eton.ac. And finally, avid snappers can talk exposures ’til the camels come home with Digital Dubai, a group that meets on the last Sunday of each month in Media City to discuss digital photography. Free registration and schedule at www.uae-photo.com.