Saturday, August 8, 2009

5 tips for blogging your way to success By Megan K. Scott

Blogging can bring you personal satisfaction, give you an outlet for expression, help you connect with others and even assist you with leveraging a business. Along the way, you may even come across a little fame. Here’s how:

• Blog about what you are passionate about, said Jennifer McLean of blog search engine Technorati. Coming up with fresh and interesting content is easier. And if you’re only blogging for money or fame, readers will pick up on it, she said.

• Make sure you post frequently, said Gretchen Rubin, who blogs about happiness. “That is a sign of vitality on a blog.” And have a clear idea of what you are blogging about. Blogs do better when you have a focus.

• If you are an aspiring author, show that you have a loyal following, said Brooke Warner, senior editor at Seal Press. “When someone says I get 25,000 unique visitors a month, we pay attention,” she said. “They have readers and either their story or writing is really good.”

• Develop your unique voice. Powell, who blogged about cooking all the recipes in a Julia Child cookbook, had a “unique hook — nobody else had done that,” said Ellen Gerstein, vice president of marketing for John Wiley & Sons. She also brought a lot of humor to her blog.

• Spend time on marketing, said Darren Rowse of, a blog with tips for bloggers. With millions of blogs afloat on the Web, writing posts isn’t enough to attract followers, he said. Focus on writing guest posts for other blogs or networking, for example. –

Dubai’s glamour doesn’t have to come at an exorbitant cost

Dubai has earned itself an unlikely spot amid the world’s ritziest — and priciest — beachside hot spots. Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and David Beckham have all been spotted partying in this opulent Arabian playground, where one hotel boasts rooms starting at $1,000 a night.

That doesn’t mean you need to be a rich oil tycoon to afford this sunny desert boomtown, however. Here are some tips to get you started. And yes, despite the tough neighborhood (across from Iran and down the coast from Iraq), it’s totally safe.

Getting around

The blast-furnace heat and humidity make long daytime strolls unrealistic in summer, when the mercury can approach 120 degrees. Even during the pleasant period from October through May, you’ll likely need some sort of transport.

Until the Dubai Metro opens in September, your best bet is one of the ubiquitous sand-colored taxis. All are metered and cheap by Western standards. Fares start at 82 cents (3 dirhams), but beware the $5.48 (20-dirham) surcharge from the airport. Drivers are generally honest and, like most people you’ll meet, speak good English.

Another option is a seat on the double-decker buses operated by Big Bus Tours. The hop-on, hop-off tickets are not cheap — a one-day pass costs $60 (220 dirhams) for adults and $27 (99 dirhams) for kids — but the tours are an efficient way to see the sprawling city’s highlights.

Historical sites and museums

Dubai is rightly known as an unabashedly modern city of gleaming high-rises and extravagant shopping malls. That makes its rare historical sites all the more special.

Start your visit at the Dubai Museum, housed in the renovated Al Fahidi Fort in the Bur Dubai district. Exhibits depict activities such as pearl diving and date farming that shaped life in the region before the discovery of oil. Tickets are a bargain at 82 cents (3 dirhams) for adults and 27 cents (1 dirham) for kids.

On the Deira side, head to the colorful old souk (market). Follow your nose first to the spice market, where you’ll find great deals on saffron as well as non-edible aromatics like frankincense. Continue to the covered gold souk. It’s worth a visit just to ogle the wares. If you are buying, ignore the touts at the market’s entrance and be sure to haggle hard once inside. For more read here.

Diet centers offer a nutritional revolution

She’s so skinny now! I think she lost 27 kilograms in six months. And all she ate was the food delivered from a diet center,’ a 14-year-old girl exclaimed to her friends at the gym I’ve joined for the summer. The conversation piqued my interest and I shamelessly eavesdropped as the girls discussed the merits of the program that their friend had subscribed to. “She barely exercised. She just avoided any junk or fast-food and only ate the meals that were delivered to her place.”

The sense of awe in the girl’s voice was unmistakable.

“Exercise is really important. But it isn’t sufficient to achieve the desirable weight. Not if I’m going to down four slices of pizza and a large coke right after my 40-minute workout,” one of the teenagers realized. By the end of the discussion, all three of them had decided to subscribe to the same diet program.

The health center these girls were talking about and other such establishments have flourished remarkably in the Saudi market since their arrival in the late nineties. Their key product is selling a healthier lifestyle via providing a healthier diet, through specific diet charts.

The main reason behind their popularity, several people claim, is the growing awareness of health-management and weight-consciousness. “Especially younger generations are very particular about their weight and appearance,” notes the manager of one health center in Jeddah in an interview with Saudi Gazette. However, this trend in weight-control is offset by the fast-food culture, which has led to obesity, cholesterol problems, and other health risks, added a gym instructor.

Diet centers with their calorie-limited and nutritional menus are the solution to this fast-food epidemic, according to most advocates of this trend. While some centers provide off-the-shelf and ready-to-go items including low-calorie sandwiches, pastries, and salads, other establishments recommend a consultation from their in-house dietician first. The dietician designs a specific weight-management program for the client based on their weight, height, medical history, and exercise routine. For more read here.

Al-Sudais launches second expansion of London mosque

LONDON – Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, Imam and Khateeb of the Holy Mosque of Makkah, launched the second expansion of the East London Mosque in the presence of thousands of worshippers on Wednesday. “I volunteer for the second extension of the East London Mosque,” said Al-Sudais while unveiling the plaque of the foundations for the second phase of the mosque which is located in Whitechapel, London.

After unveiling a plaque, the Imam of the Holy Mosque of Makkah, led the Maghreb prayer and gave a short speech to a congregation of over 5,000 people.
In his speech he mentioned among other points that Muslims should be proactive positively in their communities and work for all humanity. He also mentioned that they should work to look after their families and that the community at the East London Mosque should trust the committee to build a community for the future.

The East London Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in London. In 1910 some notable Muslim figures decided to build a mosque in London and established the London Mosque Fund. Initially, a small room was hired for Friday prayers. However, in 1926 the Fund had grown to a sizeable amount and a ‘Deed of Declaration of Trust’ was made. For more read here.

Swine Flu

Keep hard surfaces clean, advises visiting A(H1N1) researcher.

Claiming a total of seven victims to date, the death toll of swine flu in the Kingdom has reached an all-time high in comparison with the rest of the Middle East. Strategies to curb this pandemic are being introduced every day by the authorities. The “Infection Control Lecture on Swine Flu”, organized at the New Jeddah Clinic Hospital on Wednesday, was therefore timely and offered an insight into the world of medical professionals that are on the frontline of the anti-swine flu movement.

Dr. Mani Srinivasan is a prominent medical personality in the US, who has been working extensively with the swine flu research team. He delivered a simple yet effective presentation on the phenomenon of swine flu, focusing mainly on its vaccine and treatment.

Symptoms and contagion

The symptoms of swine flu, Dr. Srinivasan indicated, are similar to the regular flu or cold. These include a scratchy throat, runny nose, fever, body ache, and in rare cases, diarrhea, and these normally last from five to seven days, on average. He explained that the swine flu virus spreads in the same way as ordinary colds as the mode of transmission is droplets.

So if someone sneezes or coughs without covering, the virus can infect anyone within a three-foot radius. He also elaborated in certain trends as far as susceptibility to infection is concerned, with pregnant women, toddler and patients suffering from chronic illnesses of the lungs, heart, kidneys or liver being the most susceptible.

Prevention is better than cure

According to Dr. Srinivasan’s research, the swine flu virus can live on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours, whereas its life period on soft surfaces is as short as 20 minutes. Therefore, it is imperative to disinfect all hard surfaces regularly including floors, wood or metal furniture, and door handles.

He also stressed on personal hygiene to avoid contracting the infection. “Either hand-rubs with alcohol or soap and water should be used on a regular basis. Currently, there are no studies to show which method is better,” he explained.

Hand sanitizers are an alternate to soap and water where these facilities are unavailable, and he added that all dirty tissues must be disposed immediately after use. For more read here.