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Britney Spears teases Oprah interview in Instagram post thanking fans

Britney Spears teased an upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey in an Instagram post thanking her fans for their support in ending her father’s legal control over her affairs.

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The pop singer said her fans “saved [her] life in a way” by campaigning to end the conservatorship that was introduced in 2007 after a highly-publicized mental health breakdown.

“I’m not here to be a victim,” Spears said in an Instagram video. “I’m here to be an advocate for people with real disabilities and real illnesses.

“I’m a very strong woman, so I can only imagine what the system has done to those people.”

Spears wrote in a caption that she wanted to share a “hint” of her thoughts before going to “set things square on Oprah.”

A legal battle culminated in the conservatorship being dropped on Friday November 12.

Despite having generated a $60 million fortune over her career, Spears was limited to a weekly allowance of $2,000, according to court documents.

She was also not allowed to drive her own car.

All the while, Spears kept touring and performing to sold-out arenas across the world.

Diehard fans had campaigned online in the ‘Free Britney’ movement to bring awareness to her situation, trawling through her social media posts for supposed cryptic messages signaling her distress.

“The Free Britney movement, you guys rock,” she said in the video. “My voice was muted and threatened for so long… delivering that news to the public for so long, you gave an awareness to all of them.”

Britney’s father Jamie Spears has said through attorneys that he helped his daughter rehabilitate her career and always acted in her best interest.

The “Baby One More Time” singer is engaged to her personal trainer Sam Asghari.

With Reuters

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Climate change, unemployment, healthcare costs ‘top concerns’ among consumers in UAE


The primary concerns among UAE consumers include global climate change or global warming, recession and unemployment, and the cost of healthcare.
These concerns, preferences, and habits of consumers in the UAE were revealed in a Consumer Life Study recently undertaken by GfK, a global leader in the market and consumer intelligence.
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GfK’s study sheds light on the top concerns of UAE consumers, their shifting lifestyle priorities, and their expectations from brands and companies. These findings carry significant implications for businesses operating in the region.
According to Rahul Dixit, Head of Marketing and Consumer Intelligence – MENA, GfK, “By incorporating these actionable recommendations into their strategies, brands and leaders can better align their offerings with the evolving needs and expectations of UAE consumers. This will enable them to differentiate themselves in the market, build stronger connections with their target audience, and drive long-term success.”

Rahul Dixit, Head of Marketing and Consumer Intelligence – MENA, GfK. (Supplied)

Rahul Dixit, Head of Marketing and Consumer Intelligence – MENA, GfK. (Supplied)

GfK will unveil the Consumer Life Study 2023 at its upcoming Insights Summit in Dubai taking place on May 31 wherein industry stalwarts like Hatem Dowidar, Group CEO at e& Group, Gonzalo Garcia Villanueva, Global CMO at GfK, Shashank Sharma, Executive Director & GM at Lenovo, Omar Saheb, CMO at Samsung MENA, Mohamed Dhedhi, Partner at AT Kearney and many more will be speaking at the event.

Top concerns of UAE Consumers

According to the study, the primary concerns among UAE consumers include global climate change or global warming, recession and unemployment, and the cost of healthcare.
Approximately 27 percent of respondents expressed worry about the impact of global climate change, underlining the growing significance of environmental issues in the minds of UAE consumers.
Additionally, 25 percent of respondents cited recession and unemployment as major concerns, reflecting the need for economic stability and job security.
Furthermore, 22 percent of consumers identified the cost of healthcare as a pressing issue, emphasizing the importance of accessible and affordable healthcare services.

Shifting priorities

The study also revealed intriguing insights into the lifestyle choices of UAE consumers. A significant 47 percent of respondents reported engaging in daily or frequent exercise to maintain their fitness. This finding suggests a strong emphasis on health and well-being among UAE consumers, presenting opportunities for brands in the fitness and wellness industries.
Furthermore, 51 percent of respondents indicated engaging in non-grocery shopping at least once a week, underscoring the significance of retail experiences beyond essential purchases.

Noteworthy consumer behaviors

The Consumer Life Study highlighted several consumer behaviors that hold notable implications for brands and companies in the UAE.
For instance, 33 percent of respondents reported viewing live sports events on TV or through various streaming services, apps, or online platforms on a daily or frequent basis. This presents an opportunity for businesses in the sports and entertainment sectors to engage with consumers through digital platforms.
Additionally, 31 percent of respondents expressed a preference for purchasing second-hand items instead of new ones, while 38 percent reported switching from name brands to less expensive alternatives. These findings suggest a growing trend of cost-consciousness and sustainability awareness among UAE consumers, encouraging companies to consider alternative business models and eco-friendly practices.

Read more: Despite inflation concerns, Saudi and UAE consumer spending power remains high: Poll

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Documenting RAK’s heritage: University’s novel experiment sparks interest


The deteriorating state of Ras Al Khaimah’s old buildings — that stand out because of their architectural heritage and use of different building materials — has propelled a group of researchers and architecture students from the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) to engage in a novel project to highlight the importance of heritage conservation.

Deteriorating traditional buildings dot the Ras Al Khaimah’s Old Corniche coastline area. They were constructed more than 60 years ago, typically from traditional materials – coral stone, and sea sand, mixed with seashells.

Traditional buildings that were built more than 60 years ago dot the Ras Al Khaimah’s Old Corniche coastline area. (Supplied)

Traditional buildings that were built more than 60 years ago dot the Ras Al Khaimah’s Old Corniche coastline area. (Supplied)

Today, most of them are in a state of disrepair and some are even used for storage purposes. There is a Royal Decree that prohibits any demolitions of those structures.
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These buildings have been generally seen as undesirable because their economic value has diminished, while the land value in that area has increased exponentially. In addition, the cultural significance of the buildings is not understood or appreciated by their owners or by the public.

These old buildings were constructed typically from traditional materials – coral stone, and sea sand, mixed with seashells. (Supplied)

These old buildings were constructed typically from traditional materials – coral stone, and sea sand, mixed with seashells. (Supplied)

A research team from AURAK decided to take some concrete action to address this situation. The team — comprising Dr Eman Al Assi, Eng. Abeer Abu Ra’ed, and project leader Tawfiq Abuhantash — prepared a policy paper on preserving cultural heritage and launched a pilot experiential learning project engaging architecture students in documenting select historic houses in the Old Town area. The project was funded by Al Qasimi Foundation.
Six historical houses were identified according to pre-established criteria before the students began their fieldwork. The process spanned six months, during which the students took photographs of all the components, both external and internal. They also measured and recorded the ornamentation on the walls and ceilings. To verify the accuracy of their measurements, a professional surveyor was employed.

The data and documentation were then brought to the AURAK architectural studios, where the measurements and sketches were converted into technical drawings using specialized software, such as AutoCAD and Revit. Students were able to produce precise two-dimensional and three-dimensional drawings. Additionally, the students produced colored renderings which were exhibited to the public.

Forgotten ‘majlises’ and courtyards hold the key to studying the culture and lifestyle of past generations. (Supplied)

Forgotten ‘majlises’ and courtyards hold the key to studying the culture and lifestyle of past generations. (Supplied)

Dr. Mohamed Al Zarooni, AURAK’s Associate Provost for Research and Community Service, says: “Educating young generations about the value of heritage and the influence it has on their current lives is just as important as preserving it. One strategy is to incorporate historical building documentation into the teaching curricula of some educational programs, such as architecture. By creating teaching modules with specific learning outcomes, students will be encouraged to have a direct encounter with their heritage and, accordingly, learn about its importance in the context of understanding modern society and culture.”
With this goal in mind, two courses from the architectural curriculum at the American University of Ras Al Khaimah — Urban Design and Conservation of Historic Architecture — have been tailored to study the urban context of Ras Al Khaimah Old Town and consider conservation strategies.

Studying about traditional houses gives us an idea of how people went about their daily live in those days. (Supplied)

Studying about traditional houses gives us an idea of how people went about their daily live in those days. (Supplied)

The project had a profound impact on students’ relationship with and understanding of Ras Al Khaimah’s cultural heritage.
Lama Al Qady, one of the students involved, said: “The hidden gems in the rubble of the past are visible in the traditional patterns in wall motifs, cornices, and niches. Forgotten ‘majlises’ and courtyards hold the key to studying the culture and lifestyle of past generations.”

The cultural significance of the buildings is not understood or appreciated by their owners or by the public. (Supplied)

The cultural significance of the buildings is not understood or appreciated by their owners or by the public. (Supplied)

Another student, Mohab Hamada, said: “Working on documenting old houses opened my eyes to a different direction in architecture and taught me a lot about the traditional and cultural elements of the old houses and gave me an idea of how people used to live their daily lives.”
Research team leader Tawfiq Abu Hantash, Associate Professor of Architecture, Design, History and Theory, said: “It is crucial to preserve these important artefacts of cultural heritage before they disappear. They represent the rich traditions and culture of past days. Therefore, documentation is an essential tool to keep a record of the historic buildings and make them available for future reference. The American University of Ras Al Khaimah is proud to have undertaken this unique project that could contribute significantly to conservation efforts.”

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Mercedes boss Wolff ‘never in doubt’ over Lewis Hamilton contract renewal


Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said he never had any concern about media speculation linking Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari because of a long-standing “pact” with the seven-times Formula One world champion.
The Briton will be out of contract at the end of the season but has denied talks with Ferrari and said he is close to signing a new deal with Mercedes, the team he joined from McLaren in 2013.

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Ferrari have also said they did not make any approach.
“We are in a super-happy position with Lewis. There weren’t any stumbling blocks in the contract negotiations,” Wolff told reporters at the Monaco Grand Prix.
“We have a pact, and we’ve had that since many, many years, that we wouldn’t talk to any other driver before we have taken a decision to stay together or not.
“So I was never a millimeter in doubt that there was any discus-sion (with Ferrari). Someone just felt to place that, maybe to in a way play a role in what seemed to be a negotiation but it is not negotiating.”
Wolff said contract talks with Hamilton, who has a team sorting out the fine details for him, consisted of sitting down together and discussing what needed to be changed from the previous wording.
“The contract was ready in 2013. We’ve never really changed a lot of words in there. The dates, the marketing days…,” said the Austrian.
Hamilton has not won a race since 2021, with George Russell a rising talent within the team, but the 38-year-old is Formula One’s most successful driver of all time with 103 wins and a profile that transcends the sport.
Formula One’s only Black driver, he has been an active campaigner on diversity and human rights as well as pursuing interests in fashion and music.

Read more: Motor racing: Lewis Hamilton wins big at virtual FIA prizegiving

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