Inside the Middle East
May 21, 2012
Posted: 1256 GMT

The United Arab Emirates is sending a woman to compete in weightlifting at the London Games this summer, the first time that a female bodybuilder from the Gulf nation has qualified for the sport.

But the Emirati women's squad is also making history for another reason – they were the first female weightlifters to compete internationally while wearing the hijab, according to a recent report from the National.

The Abu-Dhabi-based newspaper reports on the UAE’s decision to wear the Islamic headscarf while competing:

Until recently, the rules governing the sport stipulated uniforms had to be collarless and could not cover elbows or knees, essentially because judges need to see that a competitor's elbows and knees are locked during a lift.

However, those dress regulations were modified by the International Weightlifting Federation, after being challenged last year by a Muslim American who wanted to wear Islamic dress while competing in US national competitions.

"It was a decision which will help the whole Islamic world," Sheikh Sultan bin Mejren, president of the Emirates Weightlifting Federation, told the National.  "Now there is no difference between Muslims and non-Muslims in events like the Olympics. There is no border to accept them or not. Everybody can participate without breaking rules."

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Filed under: Abu Dhabi •Dubai •Sports •UAE •Women

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May 20, 2012
Posted: 1037 GMT

Would you fly halfway around the world just to order a slice of pizza?

One American recently did just that.

Jon Gabrus, a self-described "Fat American," flew from New York City to Dubai for the sole purpose of ordering and eating a pizza, reported the UAE's National newspaper on Sunday.  Gabrus, 30, traveled a total of 6,850 miles in 13 hours to get the pie.

Why?  Because it wasn't just any pizza – it was Pizza Hut's new Crown Crust cheeseburger pizza, which apparently is not available in the U.S.  Plus, the trip was part of a comedy bit.

Here's the National on Gabrus' rationale:

The answer is that the Crown Crust pizza is unique to the UAE. Pizza Hut Middle East's menu describes it as "grilled mini cheeseburgers nestled in a golden crown crusts. All in a pizza topped with beef, fresh tomato and lettuce, delightfully drizzled with Pizza Hut's special sauce".

Americans cannot buy a pizza whose crust is studded with little cheeseburgers unless they have a passport and an airline ticket, but the country that invented fast food seems mesmerised by it. After numerous incredulous reports in the US media, a website called College Humor commissioned Gabrus to fly to Dubai and taste one.

No word on how many calories in the Crown Crust, but Gabrus did post a video on his "greasy" adventure to Dubai.

Interestingly enough, the other big story in the National on Sunday was on childhood obesity.

Here's what one Twitter user had to say on the new pizza-burger hybrid:

What do you think?

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Filed under: Dubai •UAE

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February 2, 2012
Posted: 1020 GMT

Experience the sights and sounds of Lebanon's "Little Armenia" with filmmaker Nigol Bezijian.

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Filed under: Lebanon

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February 1, 2012
Posted: 1825 GMT

Fashion designer Zeina Abou Chaaban has found inspiration in Jordan's largest Palestinian refugee camp, Baqa'a.

Watch the video below - and follow Inside the Middle East on Facebook to see behind-the-scenes pictures from our shoot in Jordan.

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Filed under: General

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