Inside the Middle East
October 23, 2012
Posted: 706 GMT

Here's a look at our upcoming show:

The growing epidemic of obesity in the oil-rich Gulf nations is explored in November's 'Inside the Middle East'. Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE may be some of the wealthiest nations in the world, but they have also become some of the most obese.

Host Zain Verjee visits Dubai to discover how increasing numbers of Emiratis are turning to stomach stapling surgery to shed their pounds before travelling to Kuwait, where more than 50 percent of the population are overweight. Verjee talks to the Kuwaiti people and learns how fast food, scorching year-round heat and rapid modernisation have all contributed to making this tiny gulf state the second fattest country on Earth.

Staying in Kuwait, ‘Inside the Middle East’ heads to the Iraq border where a different, but equally massive, problem is being faced by the fragile desert ecosystem. More than two decades after Saddam Hussein’s retreating troops set fire to Kuwait’s oil fields, following the Gulf War, environmentalists are still trying to pick up the pieces.

The programme also meets young Kuwaiti artist Hussain Salameen who is uniquely fusing design and technology to build some of the region’s only chopper motorcycles.

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Filed under: Culture •Health •Kuwait •UAE

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August 12, 2012
Posted: 854 GMT

Remember the story about the world's most expensive cupcake in Dubai?

Bloomsbury’s, a boutique cafe in Dubai, made headlines earlier this year for selling a chocolate cupcake – the 'Golden Phoenix' – for around $27,000.

Since the cupcake first made its debut, the store has reportedly only sold two.  And now, the shop's owner has said that part of the proceeds on sales will be donated to the United Nations World Food Programme, according to local newspapers in the United Arab Emirates.

Here's the Abu Dhabi-based National newspaper on the cupcake:

The creators of the world's most expensive cupcake now say they will donate 50 per cent of the profit from it to the World Food Programme.

Ashraf Hamouda, of the World Food Programme, pointed out that the income from a single cupcake could feed at least 1,850 children.

He described Bloomsbury's charitable gesture as "formidable generosity".

"This unique partnership is evidence that behind the biggest talents and business ideas, you often find the bigger hearts," Hamouda told the National. "As I would put it, a golden heart behind every Golden Phoenix."

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Filed under: Abu Dhabi •Culture •Dubai •Economic crisis •General •Health •Inside The Middle East •UAE •United Nations

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June 26, 2012
Posted: 1115 GMT
Rows of chocolate-filled syringes with fake Nutella packaging as posted on
Rows of chocolate-filled syringes with fake Nutella packaging as posted on

Chocoholics beware! There's a new take on the idea of "getting a chocolate fix."

Emirati newspapers Tuesday are flashing alarming headlines like "don't buy chocolate spread in syringes," "chocolate needles alarm bells,"  and "illegal chocolate syringes spark sharp response."

The Dubai Municipality has issued a stern health warning against buying or consuming (or presumably injecting!) chocolate-filled syringes after the photos above were circulated among UAE residents via blackberry, smartphones and social networking sites.

The photos show rows of syringes filled with what looks like chocolate, carrying the familiar label of the hazelnut chocolate spread Nutella. Regional distributors of the Nutella brand have issued fervent denials to the press that their product is in any way connected to these syringes and that there is no way they would be marketed or sold to consumers.

In a statement released by the municipality yesterday, the head of the food control department at Dubai Municipality said the civic body was working with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Environment to take necessary action.

Some newspapers are reporting similar images dating back a year; but it might have been this online ad in the classified section of a local online shopping site that sparked this recent frenzy.

Posted June 15, it tells buyers to hurry up and get their choco-shots! Only 10 Dirhams! (about $2.70)

We called the number on the ad and got through to 17-year-old Abu Dhabi resident Salem Al Mihri. He told us that it was indeed him who was selling the candy contraband online.

"But what about the Dubai Municipality health warning?" I asked.

"What health warning?" Al Mihri asked. He hadn't read today's papers.

He claims he came up with the idea a few months ago while hanging out with friends – he considered it an entrepreneurial inspiration. Al Mihri says he bought the syringes from the pharmacy, filled them with Nutella spread and added and label and voila!

He says he sold all 30 of his creations to cousins – not the general public . Since our conversation, the photo on the ad has been updated to say "Sold Out."

Oh, and he was very insistent that the syringes were totally "sterile" and did NOT have hypodermic needles attached.

"It's a fun way to eat them, squeeze them out of the syringe, of course I didn't mean it as an injection!"

Al Mihri assured us this was an one-off idea done for fun. So the Dubai Municipality and the general public can rest assured that these fake products are NOT for sale (no guarantees that there won't be another copycat with an "entrepreneurial spirit")

Al Mihri says he'd like to go to university where he hopes he'll learn to be a businessman and where we hope he'll learn about trademark infringement and food health & safety.

Meanwhile, our final thought on the matter might be best reflected in this tweet...

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Filed under: Health •Social Media •UAE

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October 26, 2010
Posted: 1951 GMT
They looked pretty rough, more than 3,000 years after their prime, and not being an expert I just gawked like the tourists who were filing through.
They looked pretty rough, more than 3,000 years after their prime, and not being an expert I just gawked like the tourists who were filing through.

Just imagine: a world without cancer. It's a tantalizing thought, recently floated by researchers at Manchester University in the UK.

That world may well have existed, but in the distant past, according to their survey of hundreds of mummies from Egypt and South America. The researchers found that only one mummy had clearly identifiable signs of cancer.

The study suggested that industrialization, pollution and the ills of modern life are to blame for the epidemic of cancer now seen sweeping around the globe.

Monday morning I went to the mummy room in Cairo's cavernous Egyptian Museum to have a look for myself. They looked pretty rough, more than 3,000 years after their prime, and not being an expert I just gawked like the tourists who were filing through.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Egypt •Health

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January 5, 2010
Posted: 1337 GMT

18th century composer is credited with helping premature babies gain weight in Israel. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports.

Filed under: Health •Israel •Video

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November 5, 2009
Posted: 936 GMT

Densely populated Gaza has no H1N1 cases but it also has no vaccines. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports.

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Filed under: Gaza •Health

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October 26, 2009
Posted: 456 GMT

Filed under: Egypt •Health •U.S. •Video

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October 7, 2009
Posted: 1311 GMT

Special from iReporter Sally Shalabi

Last month I was asked to do an iReport for CNN about Breast Cancer Awareness. And as I was thinking about what to say it was clear to me that I also had to write and tell my story in a little bit more than 60 seconds!

Breast cancer and cancer in general is not a new or strange concept in our worlds. However if you are anything like me, it's something that is in the darkest corner of my mind. I know it's there I just pretend not to hear its voice saying “Shalabieh, you need to get checked, for your sake just make sure everything is OK and you are healthy.” I ignore the voice because I feel great, I feel fine but cancer doesn’t work like that.

Last year the voice got out of my head and went into the real world. I first heard about it on the radio, in a cab heading to the office. Then I saw a massive billboard, and flyers everywhere. It was a national campaign in full force: The Jordan Breast Cancer Program was launched. And it was only a matter of time before I responded to all those ads. I called the support line and learned about free breast exams, subsidized mammograms and where I can get them and how much they were and who the participating doctors are and where their clinics are located. I talked to my colleagues about it and my friends. We all knew the importance of getting checked, but we all managed to somehow put it off.

Our breasts, no matter how prominent they are, are often ignored- especially when it comes to their health. But after ignoring the health of my breasts for a long while (20 years of carrying these babies around), I FINALLY went to my gynecologist and asked her to teach me how to do a self breast exam. It was awkward and strange having my doctor play with my boobs, coz that’s what it felt like. But by the end of those 10 minutes I was cleared and I had gotten a tutorial! I can now do the exams myself and I get an excuse to play with boobs (not that one needs an excuse)! But on a more serious note I got some very good advice which included:
• The self breast exam should be done monthly
• The best time to do it is after a period
• It is best to do the exam standing up in front of a mirror. But If you have large breasts then you may want to do it lying down
• If you have a fast paced life and no time then you can check your breasts when you are in shower and soaping up
I won’t go into how to do the actual exam as I am not qualified to do so, but I will say this: it’s easy, it’s fast and it can save your life.

My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer and she is a survivor, she was lucky she caught it early and is recovering nicely. You can be lucky too, but you will never know unless you go that first time and learn about this disease, and learn how to catch it in its tracks. Don’t ignore your breasts, go play with your boobs and if you need advice then check the The Jordan Breast Cancer Program’s Website for more information. Be healthy, be safe and spread the word you may save someone else’s life too.

Check out Sally's blog here

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Filed under: Health

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August 22, 2009
Posted: 1948 GMT

As more Israelis die of swine flu, CNN's Paula Hancocks asks what safeguards are in place.

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Filed under: Health •Israel •Video

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August 8, 2009
Posted: 1639 GMT

According to Arab News, the first official society to care for patients living with HIV/AIDS in Saudi Arabia was launched this week; a notable development in the Kingdom where the presence of the disease wasn't admitted only a few years ago.

Click here to read more on this issue.

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Filed under: Health •Saudi Arabia

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