Industry Talk – Bride and Groom Middle East Number 1 Wedding Magazine in Oman Mon, 12 Nov 2018 08:19:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mosaic Events makes Oman proud! Mon, 30 Oct 2017 04:57:48 +0000 Recognized as one of the Top 10 Wedding Planners at International Hot Spots, Mosaic events brings the focus to Oman as one of the sought-after wedding locations.

Top 10 Wedding Planners at International Hot Spots

Organize a spectacular Indian wedding overseas with the best international wedding planners in the industry.

Celebrating your wedding at a destination is a splendored thing. You’re opening a whole new world to yourself and your guests – exotic landscapes, tantalizing cuisine, a foreign culture – it’s a mesmerizing kaleidoscope that takes the thrill of the revelries a notch higher.

We talked to some of best wedding planners around the world – visiting the most sought-after wedding locations from across the globe and have them show us the ins and outs of hosting a wedding there.

Keeran The Wedding Planner (Bangkok/Thailand)

Keeran Baweja and Meghna Mirpuri

First Steps into Wedding Planning
We were in the army and I had multiple opportunities to organize fashion shows, flower arrangement and table-laying contests and the like. Not only did it bring my creativity to the fore, I honed my skills at handling logistics. So when I planned and executed my daughter’s wedding as Keeran The Wedding Planner, it became the talk of the town and that was the beginning of my new journey. I’d found my true calling.

It helps to have a Masters in Botany – I know my flowers!

Top three reasons to pick this destination
1. Accessibility! Wherever your guests are placed on the globe, they’ll find it easy to get here and it is especially convenient for those in India.
2. Huge repertoire of world cuisine and that includes the best of Thai and Indian! Food being one of the most important aspects of an Indian wedding this results in a win-win situation for the wedding party.
3. You will find a variety of landscapes and locations that are all geared up for Indian weddings.

Favourite Location
While every location in Thailand has a unique vibe to offer, we would pick Hua Hin and Phuket. Phuket with its pristine beaches and natural beauty is our favorite. It is one of the most romantic locations for a wedding. Moreover, the island boasts a range of accommodation options for all types and sizes of weddings. Its proximity to the international airport is a plus too.

Advice for Couples
Connect with a Thailand based planner. Start the conversation and communicate your expectations. We are here to answer all the questions you might have. Thais have a unique culture and way of working and planners based here understand that very well. The planner’s pre-established relationships with the vendors and hotels will help create a dream wedding for the couple.

  • I Do Etc. (Bangkok/Thailand)

Devki Hemlani

First Steps into Wedding Planning
At the age of 19 I choreographed a fashion show that drew comparisons with those of Dior’s and was highlighted in the Bangkok Post. Encouraged, I continued planning smaller events and my horizons began to expand. I started helping couples plan their big day.

After I organized my eldest daughter’s four-day lavish wedding, a friend suggested I pursue this as a profession. I liked the idea and enrolled myself for a wedding planning course in San Diego. Eventually, I Do Etc came into existence.

Offerings of The destination
1. There is an excellent selection of 5-star hotel properties throughout Thailand.
2. Thai hospitality is legendary.
3. A destination wedding here is true value for money.

Favourite Location
Phuket very close to my heart, because there is so much that can be done including renting your own private island for exclusive parties. It immediately sets a romantic mood that is further accentuated by the stunning beaches. Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa is another favorite. Its proximity to Bangkok makes is a great option for couples who don’t want to fly in their guests from Bangkok.

Advice For Couples
Find a reliable and experienced local wedding planner who has a good reputation so you can concentrate on enjoying your wedding. Each wedding is special but with the convenience, warm hospitality and affordability, any wedding here is sure to be a hit when you choose the right team.


Eventures Asia (Bali)

Vishal and Vanessa Lakhiani

First Steps into Wedding Planning
I stumbled into the field of wedding planning right after graduating in 2006 and knew that this is what I wanted to do. Vishal used to handle the hospitality department, i.e. – overseas guests management at his previous job during in-house events. He eventually decided he wanted to open his own event management company. We met and in 2011, Eventures was formed.

Top three reasons to pick this destination
1. It’s a holiday destination that sees a large number of visitors each year and Bali offers impeccable hospitality. It is ideal for couples who want their guests to feel completely relaxed.
2. As a popular wedding hub, vendors to cater to various wants and needs of clients, regardless of the size of the wedding, becomes easy.
3. There are plenty of hotels adept at handling Indian weddings and that makes it easier for couples and their families as well.

Favourite Location
Our recommended location would be Nusa Dua in Bali. It has a gorgeous beachfront and there are various 5-star resorts to pick from for a wedding. Most resorts in that area have beautiful chapels for international weddings and private beaches which are a great backdrop for a mandap.

Advice for Couples
Wedding planning is like shopping; couples will have various options to pick from, be it venues, planners or vendors. Plan ahead, get to know your options in detail and don’t rush into any decision. At the end of the day, pick the option that you are most comfortable with. It is one of the biggest days of your life and you want to be at ease with the options you have locked.

Vivaah Weddings (Dubai)

Rahul Kumar and Arun Bablani

First Steps into Wedding Planning
When the events industry started to take shape in Dubai, we saw a lot of companies catering to a mixed bag of events. So we decided to create a niche and established Vivaah Weddings, a premier wedding planning and management company specifically catering to South Asian weddings. The journey has been wonderful. We have hosted many grand celebrations for families from around the world here in Dubai.

Top three reasons to pick this destination
1. With world-class infrastructure, iconic skyscrapers, a dazzling skyline and stunning resorts, the city has positioned itself as one of the best tourist and wedding destinations in the region. From the tranquility of the desert to the lively bustle of the old souks, Dubai offers a range of backdrops and moods to fit the needs of every wedding.
2. The city has to its acclaim some of the finest chefs in the world as well as some impressive entertainment artists.
3. The fact that it is only 3 hours away from India and offers hassle-free visas makes it a great choice for those looking at celebrating their big day with their family and friends.

Favourite Location
We’ve seen many clients opt for venues on The Palm for their celebrations as it gives them the feel of a destination wedding right outside the main city. With large resorts, iconic hotels, open lawns and beach spaces, the properties on The Palm are ideal for multiple days of celebrations. Thanks to the varied landscapes, it is possible to host different themed events and beat any feeling of monotony despite everything being in the same location.

Advice for Couples
We would definitely recommend a visit to the destination that you are planning to get married at in order to explore the different options available. Dubai has a lot to offer in terms of choice of venues and it can sometimes get too exhausting and overwhelming. Therefore it is necessary you spend enough time here to think about your options and narrow down your search. At Vivaah Weddings, we offer our clients walkthroughs of ideal properties that would suit their requirements so they can take an informed decision.

Impressario Inc. (Singapore)

Satish Punjabi

First Steps into Wedding Planning
After working in a corporate job for twenty years, I switched gears and decided to pursue my passion for planning events. Impressario Inc. was founded in 2015 after I helped an old friend pick up the pieces earlier at his wedding. A life-changing experience, this laid out the path to numerous opportunities and helped me gain immense experience in the industry. Ever since then we have been bringing to life the dreams of our clients at every event we organize. We provide an innovative outlook and an advanced approach to planning and managing weddings; and with the assistance of the finest professionals, we transform every event into an auspicious occasion.

Top three reasons to pick this destination
1. In Singapore, couples are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting a venue for their special day.
2. Owing to its multi-racial society, Singapore is able to cater to the dietary needs of all couples and their guests. Wedding venues in Singapore are able to provide a wide variety of cuisines with high-quality ingredients.
3. Be it a grand extravaganza or a simple ceremony, Singapore has a way of accommodating weddings of all budgets and making them memorable.

Favourite Location
There are so many wonderful places to have a wedding at in Singapore, but one can never get enough of the iconic Marina Bay Sands as a backdrop as you take your vows. An occasion by the bay will create a spectacular view for guests and an everlasting memory for the couple, this why The Fullerton Bay Hotel is my venue of choice.

Advice for Couples
Definitely, consider Singapore as your wedding destination. Not only is it unique in its offerings but also competitive in its pricing.

Pink Palki (Bangkok/Thailand)

Sharan Hora, Ruchika Pawa and Ravina S. Mittal

First Steps into Wedding Planning
Our love affair with Indian weddings began when our friends asked us to help them plan a destination wedding, here in Bangkok. And our brief was interesting, to say the least: 400 guests, some private jets and M.F. Husain painting live on stage! Still, it was a glamorous beginning for us and we dived right in. There’s been no looking back since then at Pink Palki and the journey has been full of pleasant surprises, memorable interactions and lessons learned along the way.

Top three reasons to pick this destination
1. Thailand’s topographic diversity means you have a range of picturesque settings; beautiful mountains, sandy beaches and colorful cities full of surprises.
2. In comparison with other countries and even India, having a wedding in Thailand is greater value for money.
3. Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles for its exceptional hospitality, fantastic service and can-do attitude. Need we say more?!

Favourite Location
It’s extremely difficult to pick just one location given the diverse backdrops that Thailand has. Our current favorites are as follows: The sleepy beach towns of Hua Hin and Rayong, Phuket, Krabi and Khao Lak for the blue seas and sandy beaches, Pattaya for its entertainment, nightlife and street shopping, Chiang Mai for its deep cultural heritage, exotic Thai backdrops and cool weather and lastly, Bangkok for its easy accessibility.

Advice for Couples
Choose the right location and property based on the size of the wedding and the crowd you’re expecting. Hire a wedding planner who understands your ideas and artistic sensibilities. Be sure to bring in local flavor into the menu. Whether it’s personalized coconuts with your wedding logo on it or 15-minute massages for your guests, little additions go a long way so be sure to pay attention to the details.

Revel Events (South East Asia)

Rani & Harry Moriani

First Steps into Wedding Planning
I entered the events industry with small freelancing projects. This led to big corporate events which eventually landed me my first couple of destination weddings. In 2013, after 10 years of freelance work I started Revel Events. After I organized my first destination wedding for a family member, people who attended the functions started requesting me to take on their respective children’s weddings and that marked my entry into the destination wedding space.

Top three reasons to pick this destination
1. Value for money is the foremost factor when it comes to choosing South East Asia.
2. Hospitality is great in South East Asian countries where everyone feels very welcome in the hosting city.
3. Being outside of the home country is always a better choice as the sole focus is to celebrate with the wedding couple and their families.

Favourite Location
It’s so tough to pick just one having worked in various places. I will always have a soft corner for Thailand as it’s the first destination we worked in. Anywhere in the Land of Smiles will be memorable. Other than that, Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa, Cebu is another favorite because of the gorgeous property and the options of venues available at the hotel.

Advice for Couples
Beware of the monsoon months, try to avoid the rainy months as that takes away the joy of a sunset beach wedding The more you ask, the more you get!

Mosaic Events (Oman)

Krupa Khimji

First Steps into Wedding Planning 
Passionate about events, I started Mosaic Events Oman in 2011 after majoring in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. In the initial years, our prime focus was on social and corporate events, concerts and fashion shows. In the last four years, however, our forte has been weddings, whether in Oman or any other part of the world. We take care of everything from conceptualizing and planning to execution. Attention to detail, personalization and customization with precision for each and every event are ideals that have remained constant from the start.

Top three reasons to pick this destination
1. Oman’s landscape is wonderful, incorporating mountains, deserts and beaches. These attributes make the wedding venues picture perfect! Furthermore, being a fairly new destination for tourism and weddings, its beauty is fairly untapped and refreshing.
2. We have direct connectivity from Indian, European, Middle Eastern and Far East destinations on daily basis. Oman, geographically, is very central and this makes it easy for an international wedding to take place here.
3. Oman is a very hospitable country and its people are very humble and welcoming. Moreover, the country is culturally diverse making it very easy to have weddings of different kinds in the country.

Favourite Location
Shangri La Bar Al Jissah, Muscat is great for big weddings as they have a large inventory. They also have some unparalleled views and offer a great spread. Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel in Muscat has an impressive lobby which we convert into a wedding lounge if the whole hotel is booked by the couple. They undoubtedly have the best private beach in the country. Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort and Alila Jabal Akhdar are great properties for intimate weddings.

Advice for Couples
If you are looking to get married in Oman, make sure that you plan it for some time between November to March. The weather around that time is splendid.

Amore London (London)

Urvashi Kandhari and Hemali Karia

First Steps into Wedding Planning
Hemali and I met whilst working at another wedding planning company. Although the owner chose to relocate to America, we were still approached by past clients to plan the weddings of siblings or friends. As we began to reconnect with our suppliers, we were often told that we were the face of that company and that we should consider setting up our own. And so we did. Next year marks 10 years of Amore and it’s been an amazing journey so far filled with hard work, passion, great memories and a lot of fun.

Top three reasons to pick this destination
1. London has anything and everything to offer, from luxurious, heritage 5 star hotels, to historical landmarks and museums to something more quirky and unique.
2. You are offering your guests a few days in one of the most exciting cities in the world. From history, culture, art, a multitude of cuisines and great shopping, London has it all to enable your guests to be fully entertained between events.
3. London has a well established Indian wedding industry and so unlike other European destinations, an Indian couple would not feel that they are having to sacrifice any element of their culture by choosing to get married abroad.

Favourite Location
1. There is nothing more exciting than a night at the Natural History Museum. The architecture is breathtaking and for anyone looking for a venue that really makes a statement, this is it.
2. The Dorchester for its luxury, class and elegance. From the moment you enter this world renowned hotel, you are transported into an era gone by filled with glamour, grandeur and fabulously decadent parties.
3. If you are willing to venture outside of London, you will find stately homes and castles steeped in history and often featured in celebrated British dramas, as well as Bollywood and Hollywood films.

Advice for Couples
1. Like any destination wedding, it is important to first establish a budget. London is known for being expensive in comparison to Asia. However that does not mean to say there are not more cost effective options in terms of venues and suppliers available. As a versatile city, London has a lot to offer and so by being realistic and open with your budget it would make it easier to find the most suitable locations to host your events.
2. Consider hiring a wedding planner! London has so much to offer and so it could very quickly become overwhelming for a couple unacquainted with London. Things also move very fast here and so it would most definitely help having a team of hired professionals keep on top of every tiny little detail.

Indira Anzola

First Steps into Wedding Planning
I graduated in interior design and public relations and after many years planning events, I founded D-Pleis, a company that specializes in luxury weddings for different cultures. Based in Spain, and working all over Europe we help couples personalize their weddings and take care of all the little details so that the duo and their families can indulge in the carefree enjoyment of the happiest day of their lives.

Top three reasons to pick this destination
1. A resourceful country, Spain provides a plethora of options for everything that goes into creating an event as momentous as a wedding. You will find vendors to source various elements. Also, the country has a diverse landscape right from snow-capped mountains to pristine beaches Spain provides the best of everything to match your style.
2. Made with fresh ingredients, the fantastic food here imparts a delicious Mediterranean flavor to your celebrations and can be accompanied with a delicious Sangria or even a bottle of Rioja.
3. Besides being well equipped to take care of every need of the wedding, Spain is also a great place to invite your guests to. Its connectivity to the rest of the world makes travelling problem free. Moreover, it is an amazing destination to explore and guests can stay back after the wedding in order to see the beautiful sights and learn about the local culture.

Favorite Location
Keeping in mind the needs of an Indian wedding, Cortijo La Vieja Cigarra, Córdoba is ideal. It is a charming Andalusian farm whose owner is passionate about India and has decorated the space with several Indian elements making this place a special blend of Spanish and Indian cultures. Besides this, Hacienda Los Molinillos, Sevilla is unique for its XVIII century olive grove and landscapes of the stunning Sevillian countryside; and Masia Rivas, Barcelona, located amidst pine and cypress trees and with its historic garden gives the wedding the vibe of an enchanted forest.

Advice for Couples
1. Keep in mind the season before you decide on a city in Spain. During festivals and fairs, it gets very difficult to get accommodation.
2. Hire an experienced professional specializing in destination weddings and who knows about all the bureaucratic procedures that need to be taken care of at the place where you are getting married.


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Oman’s Fashion Find! Sherin Mansoor Fashion Designer Tue, 28 Mar 2017 06:14:20 +0000

During one of our routine scan for designers in the region we stumbled up on a unique and refreshing talent, when we started talking to her it got even more interesting, here is an individual quite admirably we’d say, made her way into the fashion arena with merely her exceptional talent!

Innovating and experimenting with an international flair, Sherin Mansoor is a home based fashion designer in Muscat who has participated in a number of high profile events worldwide, including the London Fashion Week, the House of Ikon in Hollywood, and the Tiffany Fashion Show in Paris.

Read on to learn more about her beginnings, the processes she employs in creating her unique pieces, and what she hopes to accomplish in the near future! Aspiring designers, we now take this opportunity to say: ‘That’s how you do it!’
You are one of the rare designers who come strong only through their talent!

I have had a passion for designing since my childhood; I was around 13 when I stitched my own very first dress.

So you have been designing for a long time. How did you gain recognition in the professional world?
It all started with my Instagram page in 2013, my Son opened a instagram account for me to showcase my designs and to simply share them around. Within a short time itself I had gotten two invitations from London to participate in fashion shows which I at that time declined citing personal reasons. However, my curiosity was piqued and I decided to participate anyway, which was the best decision I had taken because they announced me as the winner of the show! I won on my bridal dress, which was a fusion of western, Indian and Arabic designs. This is how the world of fashion opened its doors to me.

Do you have a workshop with people to assist you ?
My workshop is me and i am the sole operator of it. Whenever I receive material, I picture the design in my mind and start working. The difference is that I do not sell my designs here in the market; I merely showcase them in fashion shows.

How would you describe your style?
I usually create Indo-Western designs. I also add a lot of Arabian flair to them!

Tell us about the fashion shows you’ve been showcased in.
I received an invitation to Cannes last year, as well as this coming year in May. There was another event I attended in Los Angeles where one of my designs was very much appreciated. I recently participated in the London Fashion Week and the Hollywood Fashion Week. Usually I show case around 12 to 15 pieces of my designs in my shows .

Where do you source your material from?
Usually from the places I travel! I find it is much easier that way. Of course, I source a lot of material from Oman itself!

We’re told you have designed for some celebrities as well!
Yes, and they have loved wearing them. Judy Fitzgerald who is Miss Ireland wore one of my pieces during the Cannes Film Festival! Shannon Aspell, celebrity award presenter also wore one of my dresses during the Los Angeles Jolla International Film Festival; Lenka Josefiova, Miss European Tourism for 2015 wore a piece of mine for a beauty pageant in Malaysia. Jessica Clavette, short film producer, was donned in one of my creations for the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival while a famous Nepali actress was filmed for a song in a dress I had created!

What are the three main points women should keep in mind when it comes to choosing a dress?
I have had many women approach me for having evening dresses designed and I always ask them to keep in mind their skin tone, their body shape, and the shade of the colour they’re opting for. These three points are very important in fashion designing.

Are you looking to enter the fashion market here in Oman anytime soon?
I hope so! Oman is a lovely country and the women here are very aware of the latest fashion trends, so if all works out well, I would surely love to cater to them on a large scale. Email :

Sherin Mansoor Sherin Mansoor ]]> 0
Behind Mosaic Events with Krupa Khimji Tue, 28 Mar 2017 05:50:46 +0000 Spirited and inspiringly dynamic, Krupa Khimji is the powerful and enterprising force behind Mosaic Events, one of Oman’s high profile event management companies that has carved a niche for itself in handling extravagant destination weddings here in the country! The Managing Director of the company, Krupa is a firm believer in being the initiator and motivator of every project she handles, as well as the stronghold of goodwill and personal connections with her clients. Keen, aware and very vibrant, we caught up with this charming personality one blustery December afternoon for a chat about Mosaic Events, the work they do, and what they offer for couples looking to tie the knot in Oman!

Give us a background of Mosaic Events. How did you get into the field?
Mosaic Events started in the December of 2010. I had just gotten married and moved from Mumbai to Muscat. Having always had an inclination towards events and organising them, I met with Karen Green one of the founders of the Green Sapphire Ball, and joined in with them to help out. That’s how I learnt the way events here in Oman work.

My sister in law and the owner of Mrunal’s Boutique, Mrunal Khimji, encouraged me to get into events as she saw my inclination towards them. She recommended me to Minal Khimji to do my first commercial event. It was a grand affair and bolstered my confidence to take up more projects and get in touch with more suppliers. I’m proud to say that it was my family who gave me the first push to venture into the professional aspect of events, and from then on the ball started rolling.

In the last few years I have received a lot of interesting projects including my very first destination wedding, a fashion show for Signature Magazine with Masaba Gupta and Varun Bahl, and a concert for Kailash Kher at the Qurum City Amphitheatre! Recently I also handled the décor and giveaways for the Women’s Guild of Oman Annual Crystal Ball. We do everything from corporate events, concerts, weddings, charity events, anniversary bashes and birthday parties at Mosaic Events.

That’s a big line up of events that Mosaic manages!
Indeed. The thing is that we never say no to any new project. In fact, in February 2016, we are handling an event for 40 entrepreneurial delegates who are coming in from all over the world. It’s a 7 day itinerary that we are taking care of, from coordinating their meetings to handling their schedules, introducing them to local business icons, etc. It doesn’t end only at corporate events for Mosaic; we go beyond that and encompass everything. Anything that the client wants is our calling card!

Tell us about your role in wedding planning.
We can do everything from A-Z for weddings, including the logistics of it; if it’s a destination wedding or guests are arriving from different parts of the world we can handle the visas, itineraries, booking of hotels, transportation etc. If it is to be an traditionalKrupa Khimji wedding we can handle all the cultural and religious requirements, the décor and items for the same. There is nothing we cannot do when it comes to wedding planning. Gifts, favours, return gifts, presents as well as helpers for wrapping them – you name it, we do it! We are fully equipped to do anything the client requires; if the client wants us solely for one aspect of the wedding or event, say for example, lighting and décor, we can do only that. It’s all based on the client’s needs.

What makes Mosaic Events different from other event management companies?
I’d say it’s our personal connection with our clients. You see, we don’t want to be another run off the mill event management company; we believe in doing things differently. The clients we handle ultimately end up becoming our friends, so much so that we start visiting one another’s families! We are very transparent in everything we do; the client remains informed every step of the way. Seeing our clients happy is what makes us want to serve them with our personal touch even more.

What about the early processes of wedding shopping and gift selections? Do you handle those as well?
Absolutely! We’ve had families who’ve come here a couple of times before the wedding and they’ve wanted to go to the souqs to check out the gifts and items, etc. We always send someone to show them the many places Muscat has to offer, including date shops and supermarkets.

How early do clients approach you for destination weddings here?
About 4-6 months before the big day takes place is the ideal protocol for the destination weddings I’ve handled. The thing about destination weddings is that the clients themselves have to plan beforehand, even before they approach us. When they do come here, I show them around, I acquaint them with our services and profile in terms of what they can expect and the things they want; after identifying the basic requirements of location, functions, and timing, we move onto the themes and try to understand what it is that the client likes. That leads on to the sourcing and collecting of materials; basically this is where the bulk of the planning takes centre stage. This is the main execution that puts the whole event together. We always want the best for the client; in saying that we are very flexible and cater to every demand the client may have.

Do you source materials locally?
We source them locally as well as internationally. We have a list of suppliers from various places; we also bring in entertainers from different parts of the world to add another dimension to the wedding! There have been Indian weddings here where we’ve customised items back in India so there is no saying no to meeting the client’s expectations. As I said before, it’s all about fostering that personal connection.

So is there the mingling of Omani culture with elements of the weddings you plan here?
Yes, of course. There is always some Arabian element in the weddings I’ve handled so far. It becomes a unique, very interestin g blend that features elements typical to Oman, or even international ones. I myself am a great fan of fusions so I tend to put together elements and varieties from different countries together in my work.


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Say ‘Yes’ at the Muscat Hills Tue, 28 Mar 2017 05:34:45 +0000

There is nothing quite like the romantic ambrosia that envelops a wedding held in stunning meadows and lawns on avenues that are serene and tranquil, very much like what the Muscat Hills, Oman’s 18 hole, 6383 meter golf course, has to offer couples looking to tie the knot in open air!

Uniquely designed over 45 hectares of land that boasts sea views and a spectacular back drop of the Al Hajar Mountains, the Muscat Hills is a new wedding venue for couples that provides plush, freshly curtailed gardens with world class amenities to host their celebrations in.

Intrigued by what they have to offer, Bride & Groom had a quick chat with the dynamic and charismatic Mr. Abner Miranda, the F&B Operations Manager at Muscat Hills to garner everything about the locality, its facilities, its services, and moreover, its unique hospitality!

Tell us about the venue options at Muscat Hills.
We can offer couples our very beautiful Green Lawn that can accommodate up to 1200 people (1800 if standing), and if they’d like to have an intimate gathering, of say, up to 150 seated guests or 200 standing guests, we can offer them our Terrace as the ideal venue.

What support services do you provide?
Muscat Hills is not reserved solely for weddings; you could even celebrate product launches, live shows, birthday bashes, parties, and corporate events. We offer a complete range of professional event management services to see to the execution of any kind
of function.

Talking of weddings, we take care 
of everything from the invitation cards and the décor, to the highest quality tents, furniture, sound and light systems, dais, stages, dance floors, catering, buffet setups, photographers, emcees, DJs, live bands, and even return gifts to distribute to your guests!

And your vendors are registered?
We do not have any fixed vendors since we do everything in-house. Clients have the freedom to bring in their own florists and vendors at a permissible loyalty fee charged by Muscat Hills; however we’re certain that our in-house services will be more than satisfactory to meet their every need!

What about dining and recreation?
We have a fully licensed club house, a sports bar, and a casual dining restaurant that serves excellent cuisine. As everyone knows, Muscat Hills is an 18-hole grassed golf course, so guests can make use of the same as well. Valet parking services, entertainment options, concept executions, and personal hostesses can all be arranged at the client’s very word. At the end of the day, we want couples to have the most memorable day of their life!

For bookings, further information and enquiries, and to learn more about the
Muscat Hills Golf & Country Club facility and its services contact:
or visit:


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Your Dream Wedding Dress buy it from Contessa Tue, 28 Mar 2017 05:27:28 +0000

Finding your dream wedding gown can be as much of a pleasure journey as it can be a hassle! Right from deciding on the style of dress you want to wear, the fabric you want it to be, the shape and fit you’re looking for, down to the very minutest of details and embellishments, we’re very sure that when it comes to visiting a bridal boutique, stress levels are quite high! Or so it would seem.

Behold, Contessa, a luxuriously plush boutique for brides that offers dresses that complement not only the lady in question, but also current à la mode and worldwide fads. Launched in 2009 by Mohammed and Rola Contessa has rapidly escalated into one of Dubai’s more popular showrooms for women to come in and try on as many gowns as they require; meaning, a dress shopping experience like no other!

We decided that it would only be fair to have our readers learn of all that Contessa has to offer, and so we visited the boutique for ourselves, only to be very impressed, very captivated, and very decided that if brides are looking for glamorous designer clothing a stone’s throw away, Contessa is the place to visit!

Tell us about Contessa.
Contessa is a modern boutique for brides and all women that offers a wide selection of bridal gowns as well as evening dresses that complement fashion trends and elegance. As a family business that operated in retail in various industries over the last 30 years, today Contessa is one of the United Arab Emirate’s leading bridal gown boutiques and serves another 12 countries in the Middle East region. The boutique works closely with a number of high end designers in New York, Milan, and Paris; it also provides private designer shopping consultancy for key clients with an ample budget.

How is Contessa different from other bridal boutiques in Dubai?
We have access to more than 250 wedding gowns, all in stock, so as to make brides feel comfortable and confident in choosing their gown from Contessa.

Contessa actively works with its suppliers to ensure that it stays updated on new styles and have them in stock, especially in the case of brides coming in and wanting a wedding dress ordered immediately (usually lesser than a month).

We provide exceptional customer service as well as professional assistance on the phone to ensure that every bride gets exactly what she is looking for.


Moreover, Contessa has a team of professional tailors that provide in-house alterations and customizations at the behest of the bride.

Do you provide bridal accessories?
Absolutely. Contessa carries a wide variety of different tiaras, headbands, fascinators and headpieces by different designers that have been made out of the highest quality steel-alloy and approved Swarovski crystals. Our variety in accessories distinguishes us amongst all our competitors.

Talk us through a typical bridal appointment at Contessa.
Brides are firstly given a warm welcome into our boutique; we ask some questions to fill out a quick enquiry form. This helps us to better understand the bride’s needs, budget, and so on.

The bride is then offered a tour of the boutique and shown the dresses; she can make her own selection or opt for us to give her the right choice on her behalf. Brides can try up to seven gowns in one appointment.
The reason for trying to minimize the choices is so we can maximize on the style without confusing her. You can call us on – 04 3649280

What would you say is Contessa’s most rewarding experience?
Probably the clients’ testimonials and smiles! And especially if they share their wedding moments with us. You can see more on

What brands do you feature?
Justin Alexander, Signature by Justin Alexander, Ersa Atelier, Maison Gevrin, Ines di Santo, Grace Taylor, Maxime Couture, Yolan Cris, Lillian West, Sincerity Bridal, Sweetheart, and many more.

What advice would you give soon to be brides when it comes to selecting their gown?
Follow your heart, and decide on your own. Don’t wait for opinions, as too many will confuse you; everyone’s style is different and it’s YOUR big day!


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The unparalleled Sanjeev Kapoor Tue, 28 Mar 2017 05:19:03 +0000 Adored by a following in the millions, this gastronomical superstar first rose to fame on Indian television with his much loved cooking show, Khana Khazana in 1993, which is still running to date and is famed for being the longest running show of its kind throughout Asia, with over 500 million viewers. A recipient of the National Award for the Best Chef of India by the Government of India, Sanjeev Kapoor’s popularity lies in his easy going demeanour and cheerful commentary that make the most difficult of dishes seemingly effortless to prepare!
No wonder the masses (especially the ladies!) are so taken by him.

Bride & Groom caught up with him when he came to Muscat for the launch of his new restaurant as a part of the global Yellow Chilli chain brought exclusively to the Sultanate by Mazaya Oman (the country’s premier luxury lifestyle management services company)!

Sanjeev Kapoor was only too kind to take us on his culinary journey, his growth as a chef, and what he hopes to introduce into Oman with this casual dining spot.
Immensely knowledgeable and possessing a panache for being different and unique, Sanjeev Kapoor is as interesting a personality could be! Strictly non-confirmative, unorthodox, and looking for newer ways to revolutionise, simplify, and bring excitement into cooking, his ultimate motto is that good food is all about simplicity and love.
After all, as we’ve said it in all of our previous four issues: less is always more. And so it is in cooking. Read on to learn more about this multitalented man, his life, and everything that goes into making him who he is today: the great and humble Sanjeev Kapoor!
B&G: Our readers are massive fans of yours! What can you tell them about yourself? How did you take up cooking?
S.K.: Well to start, I had an awakening when I was three months old that I had to begin cooking (laughs). No, in all honesty, I grew up as any other normal boy my age. I had no clue as to what cooking was, what being a chef meant, what running a restaurant encompassed. All I knew was that I wanted to do something different, something that no one in my family, friends, or neighbourhood were into. I had this urge to do something bizarre; cooking at that time was considered rather bizarre, and so I ended up choosing that as my field.
B&G: But you could have gotten into, let’s say, hotel management or other areas of the like.
S.K.: Of course, there was no end to any possibility. However, so many people were into hotels and kitchen management and I really wanted to be associated with something that no one else had ventured into. That was my primary motivation to take up cooking.
B&G: Did you have any idols/role models you looked up to in your early years?
S.K.: No. None. Till date, I’ve had no role model. I never wanted to follow a road or path that had already been paved, I wanted to make my own path. In saying that, I was my very own role model! I was very clear in what I wanted to achieve and I would pursue it boldly, because in any field, that is what takes you places at the end of the day. This is actually a famous line from Star Trek: ‘To boldly go where no man has gone before.’
B&G: So this is what drew you towards your television debut!
S.K.: If only! (Laughs) No, it actually came my way on its own. I did not venture towards it, but the opportunity presented itself to me. I was supposed to do only one episode; the show was going to feature a new chef every episode. What happened was that no other chef could see what this medium offered, and that gave me the freedom to be flexible and change it according to my preference. I ended up doing that show in its entirety for 19 years on a stretch.

B&G: It was truly revolutionary then. The show actually got people to try out other cuisines.
S.K.: I agree. It brought back the interest in cooking. I am sure you know of Hariharan, the famous Indian playback singer; he’s a great friend of mine and we were talking at home a few months ago. He said, ‘Boundaries have been created by people and countries which segregates what we can and cannot do. Art is not regional; if you know the region, possess knowledge of it, then you can create anything.’ I fully believe in that and apply it to my cooking as well.

B&G: And you learnt that you had it within you to become a great cook!
S.K.: See, the basic premise of cooking is that it is an art as all other art forms. When you begin to understand it, you can begin to experiment with it. You cannot create something out of nothing that you don’t know; you understand the science behind it, practice the art, and you learn along the way. It’s a concept that can be applied to anything. You do not need to be born with it; you can become it if you are passionate about it and want to learn it. It’s basically like proving ‘nothing is impossible’. I think that is what moulded me into a chef.

B&G: How do you think Indian cooking has influenced international cuisine?
S.K.: Influences are always global in nature. In the last 30 years, India has influenced the global cooking scene in many varied ways. Every sixth or seventh person in the world is an Indian or of Indian origin. I believe India will continue to influence international cuisine; migration has led to migration of culture and cuisine to other countries where fusions are created. In some places such as the UK, the influence is huge. Over here in Oman, the influence is still coming in. It’s not in a structured way, but it’s evident and pervasive.

B&G: So you are a fan of fusion in cooking or like to stick to authenticity?
S.K.: Fusion is a way of life, it’s how we live every day. Each moment is authentic in cooking, no matter what influences you use. No recipe in the world, none, can ever be truly authentic since so many ingredients were brought into different countries by other countries! The Portuguese brought tomatoes to India, before which they were quite unheard of. I think what makes us label food as authentic is the nostalgia associated with it. It may remind us of our mothers, or grandmothers, or childhood. However, there is no actual authenticity in any dish anymore. It’s become a fusion of influences from all over the world; this is an ever changing process that can only grow further. But in answer to your question, I only like to make things that are Sanjeev Kapoor authentic!

B&G: Let’s talk about The Yellow Chilli. We’ve heard there is a cookbook range of the same name.
S.K.: Yes. The Yellow Chilli Cookbook features select recipes from The Yellow Chilli restaurant chain. The Yellow Chilli as a brand is 17 years old, and the first restaurant opened in Ludhiana. Today there are 55 restaurants under it around the world.

B&G: Do the dishes in all of The Yellow Chilli restaurants taste the same? Or are they tweaked to suit local taste?
S.K.: See, each place has its own fervour, its own taste. We keep the base of all our menu dishes the same. The only thing we have to adjust is the spiciness of the dishes, since in many places people prefer milder chilli flavours. This happens even within India! All global brands customise their creations in a way that doesn’t lessen their authenticity but incorporates the taste preference of the audience in the countries they operate.

B&G: From the perspective of weddings, we know couples want their feast to be exceptional. Any advice?
S.K.: Do not take it on yourself, always hand it over to a professional catering company. There are many things that a couple has to look after; it’s better to leave everything related to food in the hands of someone experienced. One thing brides and grooms should remember is that the wedding feast is not about what they like. It’s about hosting your guests, so understanding what they like and would prefer to see on the menu is very important. The menu should be based around your guests; profile them correctly and inform your catering company of the same. Keep in mind the presentation that is best suited to the place where the wedding is taking place; customs related to food should be respected too.

B&G: Lastly, tell us about your association with Mazaya Oman and their famous Omani hospitality.
S.K.: Certainly! I am immensely grateful to have been associated with a company with such professional standards of servicing, right from the word go. Mr. Zaher Al Hosni, the Director of Mazaya, was a great pleasure to talk to and a dynamic personality to interact with; he made sure I had everything I needed, and the entire execution and logistics of bringing in The Yellow Chilli to Muscat were done under his expert expedition. I was very impressed with the precise handling and launching of the project. If companies like Mazaya continue to function with this level of dedication and professionalism, Oman has a very thriving future for itself in the long run!

The Yellow Chilli::Head Chef’s take
Having arrived in the Sultanate only a couple of months ago, Chef Manoj Radi is a name that has trained extensively and passionately in the field of authentic Indian cooking, drawing upon the numerous influences and nuances that go into this lively and colourful cuisine. Now all set to be the Head Chef at Sanjeev Kapoor’s The Yellow Chilli, Bride & Groom decided to interrupt the busy schedule of Chef Radi for just a while to scoop out some information about the restaurant, himself, and the kinds of food to be served!

Tell us about yourself; it must be very rewarding to work under the patronage of Sanjeev Kapoor.
Most definitely! I joined forces with Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor in the June of 2012 and trained with him at headquarters in Mumbai, as well as Pune. I was a part of the corporate team and travelled to various places such as Kanpur, Raipur, Jabalpur and Coimbatore to name a few, all of which have deepened my knowledge and depth of cooking. I was also a part of the kitchen and pre-opening teams at Sanjeev Kapoor Restaurants, as well as at Old World Hospitality, New Delhi.

What is one special element that makes The Yellow Chilli stand out?
Needless to say, it’s the menu which bears Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s stamp of authority! It contains quite a few of his signature dishes; their exclusivity and simplicity is as unique as the name of the restaurant.

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Seven Generations of Grandeur : Gehna Jewellery Boutique Sun, 26 Mar 2017 14:27:53 +0000

Timeless and irrevocable, Indian jewellery is as much admired today as it was in the days of the Mughals and Rajputs who made it a point of reference in the jewellery history of the entire world. Kanan Naheta, the charming owner of the Gehna Jewellery Boutique in Dubai believes that jewellery and beauty go hand in hand, a combination that cannot stand without the strong foundation of tradition, ethnicity, and culture. And when it comes to weddings, what could spell beauty better than the perfect bridal jewellery? Bride & Groom – Oman had an in-depth discussion with this dynamic lady who took us through the roots of Gehna, how it started, what it has to offer for brides, and above all, how it understands and respects the Arab culture of the region.

Take us through the beginnings of Gehna.
My husband Pranit Naheta comes from a family of jewellers who have a long lineage to their name. He is a member of the family’s 7th generation. Counting backwards that is almost 150 years. So about a century and a half ago the journey our company Jaipur Jewels and our ancestors began as being goldsmiths and jewellery artisans somewhere in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, from where we moved to Multan which was part of India before partition. Our ancestors would also supply precious gemstones like Kashmiri Sapphires and rare panjsher emeralds to craftsmen who made jewellery that was worn by the royalty of yesteryears like the Maharaja of Patiala and Jaipur Royalty.

It isn’t common to come across a family who has been involved in one business for this long.
True, especially in today’s modern times and age of machines, its indeed an honor to go back to our tradition and continue to revive what is lost and dying as a craft. The story continues after the partition, Pranit’s grandfather moved back to Rajasthan with the craftsmen we worked with. In those days, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh, the ruler was promoting the craft of enameling and jadau jewellery making. We commissioned many pieces for the royal family descendants of India with our rare gemstones.

From Jaipur we moved to the vibrant Mumbai in late 50’s ,where we ventured into our very first retail set-up in the new and popular a/c market of Tardeo, the first one of its kind in those days. Having contacts with royalties, we often procured exquisite and rare jewellery sold by them after their princely states become democratic after India’s freedom in 1947. We began trading in rare basra pearls, Victorian and antique jewellery as well auction jewellery. This then led on to us adding a lot of jewellery related activities to our portfolio. Our jewellery business gained popularity and flourished when Pranit’s father Subhash Naheta took over the lineage and set up our first flagship store Jaipur Jewels on Nepeansea road, Mumbai in early 70’s. We became a one stop destination for jewellery. All our services made us a jewellery enterprise. The Jaipur Jewels store on Nepeansea road in Mumbai were the preferred choice for business families such as the Ruias and Birlas, and a popular destination for film stars like Kapoors and Bachhans in the early 70’s. We manufacture our handcrafted Jadau creations in our set-up in Jaipur with descendants of the same craftsmen and we further assemble and finish them in our Mumbai workshop as per our clients preferences and suitability. Generations of the same family continue to patronize us for the trousseaus of their women folk.

How did Gehna come into the picture?
Pranit grew up in a jewellery centric environment and reminisces playing with gemstones when other kids around played with marbles. He completed his program in Gemmology and jewellery designing from the Gemological Institute of America. When his generation entered into the mainstream business at the dawn of the new millennium, everyone had a definite role to play and business became more organized. Pranit wanted to expand business internationally, hence he took it upon his shoulders to handle international operations and set up our first office outside India in the fast developing Dubai in 2003. He continued the wholesale trade in diamonds and color stones in Middle East for 12 years, supplying raw material to leading jewellery manufacturers in Middle East. It was Pranit’s father’s dream to have an international retail presence hence we ventured into retail foray with the new brand launching as the Gehna Jewellery Boutique in 2015 in Dubai. It carries the same heritage, culture, values, and authenticity carried from our parent company ‘Jaipur Jewels’ but with a definite international flavor and global outlook connecting the modern women to her traditional roots.

Gehna Jewellery Boutique Gehna Jewellery Boutique Gehna Jewellery Boutique Gehna Jewellery Boutique Gehna Jewellery Boutique

You seem to be catering to a more global audience now.
Absolutely! Lifestyles have changed and are definitely different outside of India; however, the quintessential Indian woman still holds on to her traditional roots dearly even if she follows an international lifestyle. We aim to cross over both ideals of traditionalism and modernity, keeping classic as well as trendy pieces that even cater to young girls whose requirements are very different from those of their mother’s or grandmother’s. The new generation tends to look at more practical usability of their trousseau jewellery. So we provide solutions for the same with expert advice. At Gehna Boutique, we carry the same products and offer them at the same prices as in our India store as we believe in customer satisfaction with regular after sales service across all our platforms, to ensure repeat customers for generations and carry a global value for our brand.

Tell us about the boutique.
Our very first boutique ‘Gehna Jewellery Boutique’ is in the cosmopolitan emirate of Dubai, where we have incorporated the heritage and culture of our roots combined with the brand patronage

and goodwill that is inherited from the parent company back in India.

The 1000 sq ft boutique cum office is in ‘Gold and Diamond Park’, Sheikh Zayed Road, very close to the Mall of the Emirates. It has a royal setting; as though you’ve walked into a modern version of a room from a Rajasthan Palace. There are arches and paintings, and the colour combinations are reflected in the seating. Everything we have used to enhance our décor is handcreated! From kashmiri carpet and marble inlay work tables, to hand-carved wooden seating and hand-painted cushions to rajasthani miniatures and Bundi paintings. The experience is that of being immersed in a bygone era, where you get complete consultancy on what you want to buy. When a client buys jewellery displayed amidst such a setting, it gives them the satisfaction of actually owning a piece of heritage, art and culture which was present in the Mughal era. The entire buying experience itself is unique.

Since your boutique is in the UAE, do you mingle the Middle Eastern heritage in your bridal designs?
Historically our cultures in fact are very close: If you study the art, architecture and the handcrafts, there is a huge similarity and after all jewellery is inspired from art and architecture along with a blend of culture and tradition. Many traditions and culture are common especially in Oman, UAE and India. There are many Arabs who speak decent Hindi and enjoy the Indian cuisine and most definitely our Bollywood movies. At every wedding there is at least one function, where they all dress up in Indian jewellery, play Indian music and partake in the Henna Night, where they wear Indian jewellery. Gehna can offer them the perfect choices for the same. Besides exquisite ‘jadau’ sets, we customize for them elaborate headgear what we call in India as ‘mathapatti’ and hand ornaments, which we call ‘haathphool’ to match their neck-pieces and suit their dresses and culture, since these accessories are most visible in conservative or covered dressing

How do you guide brides in choosing jewellery?
For Brides-to-be, we provide a one-on-one consultation through the whole jewellery selection and purchase process. The key USP being that Pranit, a GIA gemologist and jewellery designer and me being a Fashion and Textile designer trained from SNDT college where the industry’s big names train us, like Wendell Rodrigues, Hemant Trivedi, and Neeta Lulla. Together my husband and I make a unique combination. Whenever a bride comes to us, Pranit understands essentially what she needs and requires in the form of jewellery, be it diamond or color stone designs; how elaborate the look should be, what kind of budgets she is working with, which kind of designs we can make within the said budget; whereas I look at the overall styling in respect to what she is going to wear and what colour combination will best suit her dress, her hairdo, as well as what will work best with her neckline or face shape. The bride can either first choose the jewellery according to her tastes, or we can help her choose it based on the outfit she shall be wearing. We can also guide her which style of bridal dress, fabric or embellishment will make her jewellery stand out; it doesn’t stop there! We can help a bride co-ordinate everything perfectly in a way that will allow her to use the pieces independently as well. After all, Jewellery is the biggest investment that a bride’s family makes for her in any marriage.

There is always a certain hesitation in buying a wedding set since you may never wear it again.
We try to make all of our designs as multifunctional as possible. This is what we focus on. The reason that the 22K polki Jadau jewellery works wonders with brides is that this jewellery is not soldered. It is all connected with links. It’s made with soft 22K gold unlike diamond jewellery, which is 18K gold and relatively hard and cannot be separated once made since there are no detachable components. With our Jadau collection we can assemble together different motifs with links so that if tomorrow you buy a big bridal set and return to us some time later saying this has been sitting unused in your locker, we are here to tell you that the very same jewellery can be converted into a different design and style like a bracelet or a pendant or any other piece for any occasion! With one single necklace we can give you almost three options of reusability.

What are the types of jewellery you deal in?
Ofcourse the most popular is our inhouse brand of 22 carat gold jadau jewellery for which we are famous in the industry. We also do bespoke 18k diamond and precious stone Jewellery customization, fine Jewellery and antiques, as well as ready-to-wear diamond Jewellery. There are many jewellery manufacturers based in Hong Kong and Turkey to whom we supply diamonds. They send us their collections time to time to propose to our clients. We provide a platform of sorts for them. These are usually displayed on an exhibition or event basis. We also deal in solitaire jewellery, wedding rings, wedding bands, engagement rings etc. My husband has good business networking within his family to procure diamonds from their Belgium or New York office at the best prices. He also has a local tie-up with a Russian partner to cut solitaires from Russian rough diamonds using best equipment and Russian expertise, which we certify at GIA for clients. Pranit also provides in-depth consultation in GIA certified solitaires stones, which he deals in, and can customize into classic rings, earrings, eternity bracelets, tennis bracelets, bangles in designs we can create as per the clients preferences. Clients usually look for such services for special occasions like weddings, or milestones like 25th anniversaries, 50th birthdays, etc. He has a facebook page dedicated to the same called ‘Diamonds by PranitNaheta’ where he offers really great deals on solitaire diamonds.

Gehna Jewellery Boutique
Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai
M: +971 50 3423690


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Say ‘I Do’ with Zahrat Al Rose Sun, 26 Mar 2017 11:21:20 +0000 Come forth the big day, and nothing could spell stress more than wedding planning! As a soon to be bride or groom, you would want your function to be an unforgettable experience that passes through smoothly from start to finish without any unnecessary jitters or mishaps. To ensure such an experience, why not take on the services of Zahrat Al Rose? Being one of Oman’s popular wedding and event organizing companies that have garnered recognition in the industry over the years, we decided to talk to Mr. Ahmed the owner of Zahrat Al Rose to get an insight into
the company’s services for weddings.

What services do you provide?

At Zahrat Al Rose, we are dedicated to family occasions with utmost professionalism and proficiency. We have extensive experience with weddings, and have special management for corporate functions and events as well. We believe in creating events that are consistent with the wishes of our clients through our limitless service and distinct style of work. When it comes to weddings, our main goal is to convert the couple’s dream into reality.

Do you handle only indoor weddings?

No. We have implemented a number of outdoor weddings in several well-known venues such as Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, the Muscat Intercontinental, and a number of farms and private villas. All of these were very distinct events.

Event Management Companies usually provide logistic services.

We do too! We offer everything from decorative lighting for halls, floral arrangements and stage décor, to tent setups in various sizes. We also advice to clients on the most suitable venues and locations for organizing their events in terms of photography and buffet services. Focusing attention on the minute details is what enhances the function and makes our efforts successful!

How many times should the couple meet with their planner?

This is debatable. What is important is that the company wins the confidence of the couple. There is no specific number of times that you should meet with your planner or coordinator, but you must definitely start early so that the company understands your ideas and the way you want them implemented. At Zahrat Al Rose, we focus not only on the emotional value of the wedding, but also on new visions for bringing together the ceremony.

How do you work around a limited budget?

Our most important duty as wedding organizers is to create a couple’s dream wedding without compromising on the quality of details that go into the event, even if the budget is a limited one.

Any tips for couples who are seeking the perfect wedding planner?

Start a minimum of six months before the wedding. Leaving it to the last minute is complete chaos, and brides especially feel more comfortable when they see their ideas being translated on paper. Couples should focus on delegating different duties such as the invitations, settings, and décor, and coordinate them accordingly to have a picture perfect wedding.

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The Dried Lemon: the Centre Piece Sun, 26 Mar 2017 10:47:50 +0000

Passion and a flair for being unique are the two mantras that went into creating Chef Salim Al Kalbani’s the Dried Lemon, partnered by his zealous wife, Amal Al Khaburi. Having kick started their culinary dream in 2012 with the inception of this innovative business, both husband and wife ventured into the field of baking when they began receiving orders for wedding cakes, and by that, we mean cakes of the highest stature and grandeur!

‘We started the Dried Lemon as a carry through from Cinderella Sweets, which was run by my mother-in-law, Mrs. Habiba Al Khaburi’, says Salim. ‘It’s been three years since we opened the Dried Lemon, and we started off with doing savoury dishes from home. Once we gained recognition from referrals, we entered the business in full-fledged fashion and advanced on my mother-in-law’s experience. We approach our craft with extreme care and artistry, and take pride in creating strikingly beautiful gourmet food, cakes and confections that are innovative and bold.’

Of course, being eccentrically named, we couldn’t help but wonder what brought about the title of the Dried Lemon. ‘We wanted to embrace something that the Sultanate of Oman is renowned for in the world of food when it came to naming ourselves’, says Amal Al Khaburi. ‘We decided on the simple dried lemon, also known in the culinary industry as the black lemon (Loomi Omani) and infused it in all of our trademark dishes to create our signature flavour!’

‘It’s a secret!’ laughs Salim when asked how the signature Dried Lemon flavour is prepared. ‘After many failed attempts to include the dried lemon taste in our desserts, it took us over 40 days to enhance the flavor of the Loomi Omani and remove the bitter element from it. We are the first to have succeeded in incorporating it in sweet dishes.’

How did they start making wedding cakes? ‘We began with making birthday cakes, and cakes for privately held weddings (not the ones held in hotels). Since couples usually get the cake done from the venue they are hosting their wedding in, the demand for wedding cakes wasn’t very high, but it grew at a slow yet steady pace. What turned our cards was when we designed the chandelier cake at Ritz Carlton’s Al Bustan Palace Hotel. It paved a whole new path and outlook into the world of wedding cakes for us!’

‘Salim was also featured as a Guest Chef at the Six Senses Zighy Bay in Dibba’, adds Amal. ‘That was another factor for changing the dynamics of the Dried Lemon. We now make signature couture cakes, and never repeat any of them!’ Indeed, having achieved great popularity for their incredibly designed wedding cakes that don’t miss out on the nip of the Loomi Omani, the entire process is considerable hard work. ‘We have a small, hardworking team’, says Amal. ‘It isn’t easy because when we first launched the Dried Lemon, I was pregnant, and then when Noah, my son, arrived, balancing parenthood and the business was a very hard task.’

‘Nothing is more disastrous than food that looks spectacular but tastes uninspired’, says Salim. ‘We have committed ourselves to creating classic flavour profiles with lovely textures for all of our creations, be it food, cakes, or confections.’Cake Tower

Both husband and wife agree that they would not have been where they are today, had it not been for Amal’s parents, Tariq and Habiba Al Khaburi. ‘Their dedication and utmost support in what we do is immeasurable. Without them and their help as grandparents, it would have taken us much longer to reach the level we operate on today.’

In recent years, cakes have seen an upsurge when it comes to weddings in the Arab world. Salim admits that though not a tradition in the Middle East, wedding cakes have always been a part of the celebration, but not with the gusto that we see today. ‘Ever since the advent of western themes in weddings, cakes have become a part and parcel of the whole package’, he says. ‘We have towering cakes now, with each trying to outdo the other in different weddings! The newer generation has taken to grand cakes with very specific designs.’

What was the most remarkable cake that they have done? ‘All of our cakes are unique’, says Salim. ‘However, if I had to pick one, I’d say it was the chandelier cake. We received great recognition with that cake. It was literally an upside down cake hanging from a 6.5 meter metal beam! In itself it was about three meters tall with 4,722 Austrian Crystals hanging from it along with 24 meters of diamantes wrapped all around. Over 350 handmade petals were done for its sugar flowers. The structure was fabricated in merely five days!’

Recently The Dried Lemon made news about having made the tallest wedding cake in Oman at the Al Bustan Palace that stands a whopping 3.62 meters tall. ‘It was an enormous task!’ says Salim. ‘I think it’s safe to say that is definitely one of the tallest cakes in the Sultanate.’

‘You won’t notice any specific trend when it comes to wedding cakes’, says Amal when questioned about the international designs that have entered the world of baking. ‘The wedding cake is dependent on the theme of the wedding. Embellishments such as hand crafted sugar flowers and decorations detailing are the demands in the Omani market.’

‘In striving to create the best food, cakes, and confections that make our customers say ‘Wow!’, we continue to expand our business purely through word of mouth referrals’, conclude the couple together. ‘Our wonderful Loomies, as we like to call them, are great evangelists, and we are very proud to be able to provide them with something worth sharing. The ultimate goal is to create decadent memories for all of our clients, by marrying together the most elemental ingredients to make creations that taste just as beautiful as they look!’

All in all, the Dried Lemon is certainly a hot card when it comes to wedding cakes! With personal consultancy that looks to develop an intimate relationship with their clients, Salim Al Kalbani and Amal Al Khaburi take great pride in what they create. Don’t forget to visit and their Facebook page for further information and contact details!


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ZAFFAA MARRIAGE FINANCE Sun, 26 Mar 2017 10:36:20 +0000 Having the wedding you’ve always dreamt of is now easier than ever before! Thanks to Bank Muscat’s Zaffaa Marriage Finance programme, you and your loved one can avail complete monetary support and discounts on vendor services to host your big day. Sporting a logo of a couple holding hands to reflect the start of marital life, the Zaffaa Marriage Finance reiterates the assistance extended by Bank Muscat to the Omani youth. Mr. Amjad Iqbal Al Lawati, the head of Bank Muscat’s Product and Services Management, addresses some of the more frequently asked questions regarding Zaffaa.

What is Zaffaa Marriage Finance?
Targeted at unmarried Omani youth, the first-of-its-kind Zaffaa Marriage Finance offered by Bank Muscat fulfills a long felt social need in extending a helping hand to the Omani youth requiring financial support to conduct their marriage.

Who can apply for Zaffaa Marriage Finance?
Omani nationals above 18 years, both men and women, are eligible to apply for Zaffaa.

How can this loan be availed?
Customers can approach any of the 139 branches of Bank Muscat’s network across the Sultanate to apply for Zaffa finance.

What is the eligibility criteria in applying for the Zaffaa Marriage Finance loan?
For Zaffa finance eligibility, the minimum monthly salary requirement is RO/- 250 for Government and Quasi Government employees, and RO/- 500 for employees of Tier 1/ 2 companies.

What is its tenure?
The maximum Zaffa finance is RO/- 20,000 with a 5 year tenure for repayment.

Can a couple apply for Zaffaa Marriage Finance jointly?
No they cannot, however they can have a shared account.

What has been the general feedback regarding Zaffa finance facilities?
The unique Zaffaa Marriage Finance has evoked a good response across the Sultanate. The bank is focused on continuous endeavors to further strengthen relations and lend a helping hand to valued customers, especially the youth, as a part of which Zaffaa reaches out to them for planning their marriage. As the nation’s leading banking partner, Bank Muscat attaches great importance to social responsibility and initiatives aimed at sustaining the country’s progress and development. Zaffaa reiterates Bank Muscat’s commitment to the country’s future generations.

Are there special services facilitated by the bank when one applies for Zaffaa Marriage Finance?
In order to make wedding a memorable experience for customers, Zaffaa facilitates value added services wherein customers can avail special offers and discounts from a host of service providers ranging from suppliers of wedding invitation cards, flowers, catering and wedding venues across Oman. This complements the financial support extended to customers, facilitating a hassle-free marriage.

Can the loan be repaid before maturity?

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