Reasons to Watch Soccer’s Omar Abdulrahman

Who is the best player in all of Asian professional soccer? Were this question asked just a few years ago, the name Omar Abdulrahman wouldn’t have even been in the running, much less of any familiarity to soccer fans. But as avid soccer fan Hussain al Nowais points out, today Abdulrahman has emerged as the unrivaled star of the Asian Football Confederation, and remains the UAE’s most valuable player.

Abdulrahman’s rise to stardom was in many ways catalyzed by his breakout moment at the 2012 Olympics, in which the UAE faced off against Uruguay and Abdulrahman emerged as a dominant force on the field. Though Uruguay ultimately pulled ahead, the match showcased Abdulrahman’s undeniable talent, and he’s been a force to be reckoned with ever since.

Abdulrahman has gone on to lead the UAE to an impressive third-place finish at the 2015 Asia Cup, has earned the UAE league titles, and he’s just made what is perhaps his most impressive move yet: signing on to the UAE’s Al Ain for another 4 years.

Abdulrahman’s commitment to Al Ain is more surprising than most outside of the Middle East and Asia might think. While the Asian Football League has certainly evolved in a positive direction in recent years, it still doesn’t attract nearly the level of players, prominence, and overall prosperity that the European Football League does, and many players in the Middle East and Asia know this.  When players come along that seem to have what it takes to make it to a powerhouse team like Real Madrid or Manchester United, they usually take these clubs up on their offers, leaving home teams in the AFC behind.

Given this tradition of turning towards Europe, Abdulrahman’s decision is undoubtedly surprising, but it also makes a lot of sense. At 23, Abdulrahman is still on the upswing of his career, and a four-year commitment doesn’t count him out of European prospects should he be interested at the end of his contract with Al Ain. What’s more, Adbulrahman must also be cognizant of the fact that though European teams may offer more glamour, Asian players have typically watched their careers fizzle out once making the switch. Asian players aren’t as celebrated by European teams for a number of reasons, part of which involves being a newcomer, less play time, and the challenges players face in adapting to life outside of their home countries.

In choosing to sign on with Al Ain, Abdulrahman won’t be faced with any of those challenges, and will continue to benefit from the perks of his current stardom. As the UAE prepares to host the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, the UAE has more reason than ever to pay attention to Abdulrahman, a player who has proven that his loyalties are stronger than his ambitions, and who just may lead the UAE to an Asian Cup victory on its home turf.



How the UAE is Tackling its Obesity Epidemic

It seems widespread concerns about health are no longer exclusive to Western nations like the United States, which has struggled to manage its obesity epidemic in recent decades. As recently modernized or modernizing countries throughout the world embrace new lifestyles, they’re increasingly faced with the consequences that can accompany modern living: poor health.

As reported by Al Jazeera, today almost forty percent of adults around the world are considered overweight or obese. The Arab Health Magazine reports that a new study finds 58% of men and 65% of women in the Middle East and North Africa are overweight or obese; the study tracked the percentage of overweight and obese individuals in these regions over the course of thirty years, and observed a significant increase in obesity levels in this duration of time. The International Diabetes Federation also reports that 37 million people in the Middle East and North Africa are living with type 2 diabetes; the IDF expects this number will double over the course of the next 20 years.

International health industry professional Hussain al Nowais, who frequently does business in the United Arab Emirates, finds the region’s rising rates of obesity troubling, noting that healthcare systems may be challenged to adapt to the increasing prevalence of diseases and disorders caused by obesity. However, while obesity may be on the rise, many officials in the Middle East are striving to reverse this trend.

On March 31st, leaders in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi participated in the country’s first-ever healthy living walk, called “Let’s Walk,” as part of an initiative to help children become more active. As The National reports, the Vice President of Dubai has stated that the national government is heavily invested in the health and well-being of the UAE’s children, and has created a Healthy Children 2021 campaign to help the UAE become one of the world’s most advanced countries by the year 2021. Specifically, UAE officials hope to decrease childhood obesity by 12% by this date. As of 2013, approximately 1/3 of children in the UAE were overweight or obese.

The UAE stands out as a leader in health initiatives in the Gulf region, the region most affected by obesity throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to government-sponsored events like Let’s Walk, the UAE has also set up biking paths, water sports, and volleyball nets on its beaches to promote more active recreation, and has implemented a policy of regular health testing to encourage early detection of diseases. The UAE has also restricted the number of carbonated beverages that can be sold in the country, and has created a nationwide health database to more effectively and efficiently track patient data and identify health trends.

Many like Hussain al Nowais believe that the UAE’s proactive response to its obesity epidemic will set a precedent throughout the rest of the region for leadership to take action as well. As the UAE pulls ahead in science, technology, investment, and all things related to building a knowledge-based economy, it’s astutely recognized that the health of its people will be critical to its overall success as well.

While reducing childhood obesity by 12% in less than ten years’ time may be a lofty goal, if any country in the Middle East has the determination and resources to accomplish such, it’s the UAE.

Traditional Cuisine from the UAE

Though perhaps not as familiar to the Western palette as Asian, Italian, or Latin-inspired foods, food from the Middle East is some of the finest in the world. Rich in savory flavors and spices, Middle Eastern cuisine is about more than just hummus (although that’s delicious, too).  As international medical salesman and food aficionado Hussain al Nowais points out, among Middle Eastern cuisine, the burgeoning nation of the United Arab Emirates offers some of its most delicious. In fact, dishes from the UAE often reflect a unique, yet tasty collaboration of Middle Eastern and Asian inspirations. What does Hussain al Nowais love to sample while on business in the UAE?

Stuffed Camel

Though it may sound unusual to the foreign ear, stuffed camel is actually a delicacy in the UAE, and for good reason. This elaborate dish is prepared by placing a combination of whole chickens, boiled eggs, fish, and a sheep inside of a whole camel, which is then slow roasted over a charcoal fire. Though complex in execution, to be sure, the stuffed camel has been a staple on menus for weddings, family celebrations, and other special occasions in the UAE for years.


Shawarma is perhaps one of the UAE’s most popular dishes, and is commonly eaten for both lunch and dinner. Shawarma is prepared as a pita wrap made of shredded lamb or chicken, and is typically dressed with tomatoes, garlic sauce, and pickles, among other spices. For those interested in experiencing the savoriness of Shawarma for themselves without boarding a plane, know that Shawarma can be prepared with relatively basic ingredients and can be ready to eat within just 35 minutes.

Matchbous (Kabsa)

Matchbous is another exceptional menu option when dining in the UAE, although this dish isn’t exactly exclusive to the country. A highly similar version of the dish is prepared throughout the Middle East in countries like Saudi Arabia and Yemen, where it’s known as Kabsa. Matchbous is a rice-based dish topped with lamb that’s been stewed in tomatoes and seasoned with dried limes (loomi).


Have a sweet tooth? While in the UAE enjoy Khabees, a sweet yet simple breakfast dish prepared using just flour, oil, sugar, saffron, water, almonds, and cardamom, a spice incorporated throughout a variety of UAE recipes. While iconic of the UAE, Khabees is actually a variation of a Greek dish known as halva, although Khabees uniquely requires that flour be toasted before it’s combined with the dish’s other ingredients.

As Hussain al Nowais emphasizes, these dishes represent just some of the many food items popular in the United Arab Emirates, a country that, even though known as a hub for international influences, maintains a proud tradition of local cuisine. Guests from around the world can experience the best the UAE has to offer by attending its annual international food festival, held in Dubai.