The UAE is catching up with the rest of the world when it comes to podcasts and there are a growing number of offerings that will help you nurture your body and soul. Check out our list of 14 that are well worth your time.
The Livehealthy Podcast
We’re a bit partial to our own podcasts, which the team launched at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Hosted by livehealthy.ae editor Ann Marie McQueen in English, and Modia Batterjee in Arabic, and produced by multimedia editor Issa Salem, this weekly podcast features interviews with a wide-ranging field of guests from the UAE and broader region – including, so far, a dentist, a vet, a nutritional therapist, a resilience practitioner and a hypnotherapist, as well as a yoga teacher and gym founder. All have a common goal: to help us feel better mentally and physically, no matter what’s going on in the outside world.
B for Better Health
Baraa El Sabbagh is a dietitian, sports nutritionist, personal trainer and cookbook author and in addition to writing for livehealthy.ae, she’s also a prolific podcaster. Launching B for Better Health in November 2018, she’s tackled everything from overcoming gym anxiety to binge eating to exercising during Ramadan to building a morning routine. She’s even had her husband Ali on to talk about how to manage eating with your partner.
The Kelly Lundberg Podcast
Dubai-based entrepreneur Kelly Lundberg launched The Kelly Lundberg Podcast, a series aimed at finding out more about women who trailblaze and cause waves in their industry, in 2021. Within two weeks, the podcast had become one of the top 15 podcasts in the UAE for Entrepreneurship. Guests so far include international love and relationship coach Dr Lurve, founder and CEO of TishTash Marketing and Public Relations, Natasha Hatherall-Shawe, and CEO of L’Couture Lyndsey Doran.
Love Bites comes from journalist Georgie Bradley (who writes for Livehealthy) and PR specialist Fi Wishart, as they dive into the deep end of discussing the state of relationships and what love really means in 2021. The podcast was born out of a continuous flow of voice notes between the Dubai-based friends as they dissected elements of bad dates and text messages. The pair wanted to create a platform to share their and others’ stories and help everyone better understand the complexities of relationships.
Friends and former colleagues Lana Makhzoumi, who is Lebanese-Syrian-American and born in Dallas, Texas, and Maram El Hendy, who is Palestinian-Algerian and grew up in Abu Dhabi, come from completely different backgrounds. But they have chemistry, which partly explains why the two Dubai-based friends shot to the top of the podcast charts when they launched DXBabies in 2019. The pair regularly get real talking about breakups, social media addiction, work troubles and more on their weekly episodes, which they admit can be like therapy as much for them as for their listeners. Kindness and positivity are guiding lights, both as individuals and as a podcasting team. “We want content that is actually going to help people and make them feel they’re not alone,” says El Hendy. “None of us is perfect, we’re all trying to learn here.”
The Goodness Podcast
The Goodness Podcast was launched in January 2020 and, like the website, it focuses on celebrating and supporting women living in the Middle East. Goodness co-founder Noor Tehini tackles tough topics including orthorexia, postpartum anxiety and depression, how to build a stronger marriage and coping with burnout. “Unfortunately I think our culture is very much prone to nurturing body dissatisfaction and eating disorders,” said Carine El Khazen, vice-president of the Middle East Eating Disorders Association, on one episode. “Because there’s a huge pressure on the Middle Eastern woman to be very beautiful, very thin and very perfect in all areas of her life.”
The Dukkan Show
This weekly podcast is all about being a “Neo-bedouin,” a third-culture kid or simply the kind of person who feels as though they can fit in everywhere and nowhere, all at the same time. With slick production values and a generous conversational style between hosts Omar Tom (OT), Reem Hameed and Mohamad Akkaoui, The Dukkan Show opens a window into how much pressure there is on 20- and 30-somethings to accomplish something big and do it fast. While the guys talk about the tactic of imagining worst-case scenarios and then planning for them, Hameed says her defense mechanism of choice is positivity. “When I’m daydreaming, this is a space where I’m not allowed to be negative,” she says. Gratitude, burnout and starting from scratch are some past topics that make this podcast a healthy listen. There are music mixes, too.
The Innerfight Podcast
Marcus Smith, who retired from playing professional rugby in 2010, went on to become a high-performance coach, launch the performance company/gym Innerfight and the food delivery service Smith St Paleo. He’s still a fierce competitor and ran 30 marathons – one a day – during the 2018 Dubai Fitness Challenge. As one might expect from someone who knows how to hustle like Smith, his podcast is not only long-running but consistent.
This semi-regular offering comes from Tatiana Antonelli Abella, founder and managing director of the social enterprise Goumbook. In each episode Forward Talks features an interview with a changemaker in the UAE’s sustainability field. Neutral fuel, food waste and sustainable landscaping have also been covered. Antonelli Abella brings everyone into the conversation: in episode three, for example, she speaks to Alex Malhouf, regional corporate communications manager for Proctor & Gamble, who told her sustainability was a collective responsibility. “We need to make it easier for consumers to do the right thing,” says Malhouf.
The Two Vegans
The Two Vegans is hosted monthly by Chirag Desai, founder of the podcast network, Ameaya FM, and Heetal Bhatia, a marketing manager who runs a vegan store. They interview important players such as Ian Ohan, founder of Freedom Pizza, and Tom Ellis from Plant Power. They talk about their personal preferences (vegan cheese has been a recurring topic) and relay news from the vegan world, including sustainable growing and farming practices. There’s great intro music, good sound and an awesome tagline: “No animals were harmed in the making of this podcast.” Although they sometimes veer off-topic and Bhatia talks very, very quickly (we’d love to tell you the name of her online store, but we couldn’t catch it), this podcast is not only engaging but provides a much-needed local focus to a fast-growing space.
CSR of One
Author and blogger Courtney Brandt, who runs the foodie website A to Zaatar, has a well-established podcast in CSR of One with new episodes every Monday. As the title suggests (CSR stands for corporate social responsibility), this podcast focuses on what drives busy individuals to take on major charitable initiatives. While Brandt wants to draw attention to the various examples of good works by local heroes, she also hopes to inspire listeners to think about how they can make a difference themselves. Have some tissues handy, because these are powerful and heartwarming stories.
Mama Earth Talk
This podcast was launched by the South African artist and environmentalist Mariska Nell, whose exhibition at 2019’s Dubai Design Week included a lamp she made from 913 used Nespresso pods. She also teamed up with Marita Peters, executive director of the non-profit water organization, Surge for Water, for the 30-day Waste Me Not campaign. Peters has featured in the lineup of interesting guests on Mama Earth Talk, which includes eco-warriors, business owners and other local experts in the field. Mama Earth Talk informs, educates and entertains listeners on a variety of topics dealing with sustainability, including the importance of reducing food waste, cutting down on plastic, recycling, plus turtles, electric vehicles and eco-friendly mattresses. Nell always greets her listeners with: “Hello crazy birds.”
When Women Win
If your heart doesn’t soar just hearing that title, then you’ll be sold as soon as you tune in. Hosted by Dubai-based entrepreneur Rana Nawas – one of the best interviewers on this list – When Women Win features twice-monthly inspirational interviews with fascinating, driven and forward-thinking women who have great advice for business and life. Guests have included fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff and Najla Al Midfa, chief executive of Sharjah’s entrepreneurship-building entity Sheraa. After missing out on a job at the global management firm McKinsey & Company in Dubai when she was 21, Nawas tried again years later in New York, after getting an MBA, and got in. “If you take everything personally, your self-worth is going to be hurt every time someone says no or things don’t go your way. Life becomes really difficult,” she says. “But if you actually see this as a challenge and don’t take it so personally, I find that it actually becomes exciting.”
This podcast company is the first in the Middle East to get venture capital funding and has gone on to launch multiple Arabic and English shows. We still love the mind-expanding, sometimes heartbreaking, original podcast Kerning Cultures – occasionally broadcast in Arabic – that offers something rare in this region: long-form narrative over interviews. The result, which is now produced seasonally with twice-a-month episodes, is more like a short radio documentary, with stories from across the Middle East “and the spaces in between” told carefully and responsibly. Expect alternative takes on a wide range of topics, including hijabs, female anti-radicalization movements and a drive to revive the Yemeni coffee industry.
All podcasts available on Apple podcasts and various other podcast providers. Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments, on our social media or by emailing [email protected]
Ann Marie McQueen
Ann Marie McQueen is the founding editor-in-chief of Livehealthy and host of The Livehealthy Podcast. She is a veteran Canadian digital journalist who has worked in North America and the Middle East. Her past roles include features editor for The National, trends writer and columnist for the Canadian newspaper chain Sun Media, and correspondent for CBC Radio.