Monday, May 27, 2013

Summer Time in UAE: What to Expect?


Typically summer is one of the awaited seasons of the year in most countries. Summer always entails tons of fun. It is time to enjoy various outdoor activities like summer camps, hiking, fishing, hunting, kayaking, rock climbing, and so on.

If such exciting activities are waiting for you, then you can’t definitely wait for summer season to come, right? But here in UAE, it is another story, a completely different scenario.

For us living in this part of the globe, summer season implies the end of outdoor activities. It is goodbye to the beautiful weekend mornings by the beach or picnics at the parks. Summer means it is time to hide in the malls, at home, or anywhere as long as there is an air-conditioning facility.

Summer season is not really a pleasant time of the year. The scorching heat of the sun feels like a hot laser beam that penetrates up to your skin’s inner layer. Temperature reaches up to 40 degree Celsius or even higher on some occasions.

So what to expect in UAE during summer season?

§  Business demand in tourism industry is low.

§  It is vacation time for expats for numerous reasons – school classes are over, weather is just difficult to bear so they travel to escape it, employees are asked to go for vacation because it is not busy.

§  High humidity at night

§  It is common to see people in sweat soaked shirts.

§  Buckets of water are kept overnight. For accommodation without cold water system, it is the best option when taking shower during midday. Tap water tends to be very hot. Don’t dare. You may end up with falling hair or scalded skin.

§  Buckle up the basic summer stuff in your bag and do not leave your home without it – bottle of water, sunscreen, hat, umbrella, and anything to cover your skin from the sun’s madness.

So far, that’s all I can think of now but for sure, I can have a longer list of what to expect during summer season in UAE in the next few weeks as summer is just really kisses away.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Introduction to Digital Marketing

By Ed Mahony – – 2011

The following is a guide to digital marketing: what the chief components (or tactics) are, how the chief components so often form part of an overall approach (or strategy), and how important it is to approach digital marketing, creatively as much as analytically.

Cliche: ‘Content is King’ – but true! Attract relevant audience to your business/brand by offering it quality content on your company website (hence the term, “content marketing”). This could be in the form of, for example, formal articles, informal blog posts, video and audio content, general interactive-website and mobile content, resources, and so on). That the content is relevant (of use / interest) to the audience. And content that is original (above all for the engagement of audiences, but, also because search engines, in particular Google, are quick to spot content that isn’t). All of this will result in your pages ranking higher, overall, in search engines, as well as people engaging in your content with increased loyalty and recommending your content via social media and word-of-mouth in general.

- PPC.
Pay per click advertising (i.e. Google Adwords) for attracting traffic to your website. Particular reasons for using PPC, for example: accurately target key words and geographical locations, useful for campaigns, quick return on investment, straight-forward ROI assessment, assist in organic search.
- Organic Search.
Organic search is about being found in search engines’ free listings. It involves various general digital marketing approaches (in particular, the creation of quality content, but, also, SEO, keyword strategy, and more). Although free, it takes time and skills to rank highly. And can take time for a new site to rank highly. But useful for general, long-term search results.
- SEO. Search engine optimization. Traditionally, SEO is about optimising websites for search engines, i.e. creating unique and accurate page titles, description met tags, url structures, site navigation, and more. Increasingly, SEO is seen as more than this – that it’s an important part of other areas of digital marketing i.e. social media, PPC, online PR. A key approach to SEO is not to overdo it. To be cautious so that your SEO is clearly seen by search engine companies as being legitimate (white hat SEO – as opposed to black hat SEO). That the real focus is creating quality content (with SEO just being a tool – one of a variety of tools – to help bring that content to audiences).
- Web Analytics. Web analytics tools can be used to find out which parts of your site are receiving the most and least amount of attention from your audience. Web analytics is a big subject, and there are many different types of tools. Good place to start is Google Analytics (Google Analytics education).

- General.
Social media is about creating closer ties with your audience, getting people to talk about your brand in general, drive traffic to your website. These activities are achieved by connecting with relevant audiences via social media channels. “Connecting” involves general, informal industry chat and interaction. As well as specific tasks or projects, for example: passing on useful and interesting links and information for a particular topic, running a competition, customer service.
You might want to achieve social media buzz or a sustained social media presence (or both). “Buzz” involves a social media campaign that gets people talking quickly, en masse. But attention that often quickly peters out. “Sustained social media presence” is about interacting with loyal customers on a day-to-day basis, building up a steady presence and loyal audience. These two approaches can co-exist within a particular social media channel (with some channels better at one approach over the other, for example, virals for quick buzz, and blogging for building up a sustained social media presence).
- Blogging. Is blogging worth it? The old format (i.e. informal, jotting down of ideas etc ..) still works. But there’s lots of competition now. Instead you could consider, perhaps, joining up with another group of bloggers – strength in numbers. And, certainly, introduce new types of content on your site (for example, formal and well-thought out articles as opposed to just informal sketchy blog posts, resources, research stats, infographics, videos, podcasts, microsites, games, and so on – depending on your industry), and focusing on your content being found in search engines (in other words, having an organic search and keyword strategy).
As long as you have sufficient following, the blog is, also, a useful tool for online PR.
- Twitter. Microblogging. Twitter is a useful tool for keeping abreast of industry news (by following lists), building up a social media presence (by tweeting relevant content, retweeting, informal industry chat, competitions, and so on). You can use Twitter, for example, to promote a blog article, carry out research, customer service.
- Facebook. Why Facebook as a marketing tool? Facebook has more than 800 million users – professionals, students, and people in general. You can create a Facebook page (with content) in order to build up a loyal audience and promote your brand. But only consider getting involved in Facebook if you’re prepared to commit to it, properly.
- Google+. Social networking and identity service. Debuted: 2011.
- LinkedIn.
A strong social networking tool, in particular, for people in senior management
- Other. Lots of other ways of marketing via social media: photosharing (i.e. Instagram, Flickr), video sharing (i.e. YouTube), social network aggregation (i.e. FriendFeed), and more.

Email is still an effective marketing tool as long as your emails are relevant to your audience (and you don’t over do it). If not, forget it (backfire).

Affiliate marketing can cover a wide area of activity (search engine marketing, email marketing, display advertising, and more) and be time-consuming. For that reason organizations often turn to specialists. But remember, you know your product, best, and market place as well as anyone else, so there can be important benefits in doing it, or part of it, yourself.

Consumer generated content is about getting audiences to create their own content on your site. This could lead to increased traffic, as well as building up loyalty with your audience. Remember that audiences aren’t always experts in a particular subject. So consumer generated content can be hit-and-miss.

Customer experience is about the overall experience that a customer has when visiting a site (and in particular, but not exclusively, for an e-commerce site). Customer service is an important part of it. Although large companies and / or e-commerce sites are more focused on this than others, it’s still something that everyone should be thinking about, to a degree, in general.

The look, feel and functionality of a website (and mobile site) can affect a number of things, chiefly: sales, brand impressions, social media interaction, whether people explore the site and find new content, and organic search (affected by factors such as amount of time on a page, bounce rate, and so on).

Return of Investment is important when you’re investing money in software, hardware and services. Research, before spending money, is key, as well as analysis of performance and results once the investment has been made.

- Having a good marketing strategy has, always, been important. And now in the digital environment, more than ever. Firstly, marketers have to follow their audience: Internet usage in the US is now 70-75 % of the population (source: 1+2). Secondly, the way people use the Internet, and interact with other people on it, is getting more varied. This adds complication, but also, creates opportunities to come up with smarter strategies in general.
- Which Part of Digital Strategy Should You Focus On? Broadly speaking: the Internet (and depending on your products / marketplace: static websites, interactive websites, e-commerce websites, and more; social media; search; banner ads; email; affiliate programmes; video and audio content; and more). But digital, also, covers: mobile phones (mobile marketing hasn’t really taken off, yet, but it may over the next while), digital signage (digital screens in shops etc ..), and more.
- What Are You Trying to Achieve in Your Digital Marketing Strategy? Think about what it is, exactly, you are trying to achieve. Digital media can be used in very different ways for different purposes (i.e. sales, developing customer loyalty, creating and maintaining general brand awareness, online PR, driving traffic to a site, and more).
- Who Are You Trying to Reach in Your Digital Marketing Strategy? Think quality versus quantity. You might have lots of traffic. But is it relevant traffic? Are these people going to buy your products or pay for your services? And (/or) are they going to recommend your products and services to others?

BRANDING Is branding a component of digital marketing? Some think so. Others not. It’s certainly connected to digital marketing. Here are a few things to think about.
- General. Are different pages on your site consistent in the overall impression (visual and written) they create? On the other hand is the overall impression you create overwhelming and intrusive?
- Authenticity. Focus on things that will gain your audience’s trust. For example, case studies, awards, recognition, and so on. Show, don’t just tell.
- Brand Story. You’ve got a great looking website that, also, works well. But does it capture the interest of the audience? Is there an interesting story to tell (i.e. about how your online work began / developed, and so on?)

Data has always been key in marketing. Whether it is data for understanding your audience, the competition, the market place in general, and so on. However, the digital environment provides marketers with the ability for even stronger and more powerful analysis based on the wide variety of tools available to them.
A creative approach has always been key in marketing. But even more so, owing to the elaborate nature of the digital environment. Even with a particular digital marketing channel, for example blogging, a creative approach is essential (i.e. creating interesting content, being creative about how you find fresh and original subjects to discuss, and so on). And because so many different digital marketing channels and tactics are inter-related, so a creative approach is essential, at a strategic level, as well.

Introduction / Intro / Guide to Digital Marketing – – 2011


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

10 Fitness Basics, Big Results without Drugs – Chris Middleton Like

I've read this post few months back and tried it out. To my surprise it did work for me and I feel much better. So I thought I would share it with the rest of my blog readers.

New workout accessories and training techniques with fancy names may have their place, but sometimes the basics deliver the biggest results. Check out these 10 must-read tips!
 Jen Jewell 
As a reader, you no doubt know your stuff. You're smarter than the average bear, and when you hit the gym to train, you don't just "show up" and putter around on the treadmill. You arrive on a mission. Like me, you'll do whatever it takes to reach your personal best. You're dedicated and focused. You're unstoppable.
Sometimes, however, our desire to get as ripped, huge, fast, or strong as possible is so overpowering that we forget to take a step back and critically review what we're doing. As an athlete and fitness competitor, I sometimes get so focused on my goals—crushing the competition, nailing every workout, hitting every meal—that I forget some of the tried-and-true fitness basics along the way.
Basics, you ask? What basics? I'm talking about the simple building blocks of fitness success. They're easy to forget in lieu of the latest and greatest fitness craze that hits the scene. (Shake Weight, anyone?) Now is the time to remember them. These tips might seem simplistic and elementary, but they're important for any trainee to revisit and utilize.

1 / Have Fun

If you're not having fun with your fitness, it's easy to lose interest. If the idea of walking on the treadmill bores you to tears, don't do it!
Find an activity you enjoy doing: start hiking, begin power lifting  join a running club, take up yoga, or even try trapeze lessons. As long as you have fun with your fitness, you're more apt to stay consistent.

2 / Set Goals

Maybe you want to fit into a smaller dress size, decrease your body fat percentage, cut your mile time, or set a new lifting PR. Well, set a goal, map out a plan, and get to it! I always have clients set short-term (30-day) and long-term (3-6 months) goals. With these goals in mind, we can map out the necessary plan of attack. That plan will help you stay focused and on the path to success.

3 / Drink Enough Water!

Before you say, "Tell me something I don't know, Jen," allow me to elaborate. While the reminder to drink water may sound unnecessary and obvious, many people often mistake their thirst for hunger. If you just ate a meal and are still hungry, you could just be dehydrated.
Too often dieters attempting to lose weight think they're hungry when they're not. Don't mistake your thirst for hunger! If you feel hungry, drink more water first and then wait it out. After 10 minutes, you'll know if you're actually hungry.

4 / "Pass The Protein, Please"

While exact daily protein requirements vary by individual and goal, you need enough to maintain and build lean muscle mass. Aim to consume about one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day, divided among 4-6 meals. A diet this rich in protein will help you feel fuller for longer while refueling your muscles post-workout.
On that note, remember that proper supplementation is important and must fit your goals. Yes, I understand that supplements can seem a bit overwhelming, so start simple: protein, fish oil, and a multivitamin are great choices. Train hard and conduct your own research before using supplements.
Don't just buy something your friend touts as "the latest and greatest." It may not pertain directly to your goals or needs.

5 / Pile On The Greens

This tip applies regardless of your exact fitness goal. Adding vegetables to most meals bringsfiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals to your diet, and will help keep you full for a longer period of time. If you're new to the vegetable world, start by trying to add greens to half of your daily meals.
Don't think that adding veggies means you're done. You also need to make sure you eat a consistent, balanced diet. Your hard efforts in the gym will not be evident in your reflection if you don't consistently follow your meal program. The saying "abs are made in the kitchen" is not just a rumor created by the Food Network in an attempt to create more culinary wizards. If you want that lean, toned, or ripped appearance, you have to stay dedicated to both your training and your meal program.

6 / Prepare To Succeed

When it comes to meals, don't be caught off-guard. The more you can plan ahead, the better. Don't get me wrong, you don't need a week's worth of food proportioned out in Tupperware ahead of time in order to be successful. If I leave the house, even if just for a few errands, I always take my next meal or snack with me on the go. You just never know what can come up.
Prepare yourself with bars, shakes, almonds, and other packable, healthy snacks. That way, when you're starving and away from whole food, you won't stop a fast food joint.

7 / Sleep Sufficiently

Yes, you read that correctly—make sure to get your ZZZs! Rest is crucial to our fat-loss and muscle-building goals. Lack of sleep raises cortisol levels and hampers proper recovery. Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep each night.

8 / Mix It Up!

Many dedicated gym-goers fall into a workout rut. Break out of boredom by challenging yourself in new ways. Try new movements, set aside the dumbbells in favor of a barbell or cables, or grab a buddy and try a class. Don't just set up camp at your usual corner or elliptical. If you are bored with your workouts, chances are your body is, too. Make some changes for a new challenge and a more ripped you.
Although making changes to your workouts is important, make sure your changes are still going to help you reach your goals. If you're trying to improve your 10K time, I'm not sure doing a 5X5 squat regimen is going to help. Make smart adjustments to your program as they pertain to your goals. You don't have to drastically change your workouts every week. Make simple adjustments to keep making progress.

9 / Lift Weights

I constantly hear women say things like, "I just want to tone, so all I need to do is cardio." This could not be farther from the truth. Cardio without weight training will leave you "skinny fat."

You might have a thinner frame than when you started, but your physique won't be any tighter. Depending on your overall weight loss, you could end up with loose skin. Yikes.
Resistance training increases your metabolism by building lean muscle. The more muscles you have, the more calories you burn.
More muscle and less fat means you'll strengthen, tighten, shape, and "tone" your entire physique. Think twice before skimping over the free weight section!

10 / Stay Consistent

None of this information will be of much value if it's not done consistently. No matter your goal, consistent efforts are rewarded with hard-earned results. It's that simple. There's no replacement for consistent time under the bar, so get after it!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Oil pulling: A cheap, easy and effective solution to health woes

Dating back thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine, oil pulling may seem like an unlikely curative miracle due to its simplicity. Yet practitioners of the therapy laud its effectiveness in healing everything from AIDS to diabetes, heart disease to leukemia. Testimonials aside, scientific research has shown oil pulling can vastly improve the condition of the gums and teeth by reducing dental bacteria, viruses and fungi - which in turn fosters overall health.

Oil pulling basics
Oil pulling is a technique where a tablespoon of oil (sesame, coconut, olive or sunflower) is moved around the mouth and through the teeth with a swishing motion for 20 minutes, one to three times per day. The premise behind the therapy is that oil attracts various pathogens in the mouth which are then suspended within the liquid and subsequently spat out. The oil also seeps into hard to reach pockets below the gum line where damaging bacteria tend to thrive.