It’s been far too long since my last post. The real world of content writing, subbing shifts and features pitches got on top of me in the last week and I was in writing hibernation, slowly digging myself out of my pit of emails, reviews and scribblings.
Now I’m back and can’t wait to finish writing about my jaunt around Dubai. I’ve already posted some images in Part One: Dubai in Pictures, so, as a condensed-down, easily-digestible whistle-stop tour of the what, when, how and where before I immerse myself in the nitty gritty, here’s my bonkers and beautiful Dubai in five snapshots.
“Who’s going first?” Asked the IFLY expert who, while wearing a leotard so tight it was verging on indecent, had just been flipping in a perspex tube a moment before. We glanced at each other, each trying and failing to blend into the wall behind us, before pointing out our Dubai guide as a designated lamb to the slaughter.
Sun, Sea and…Snow? Ski Chalet at The Kempinski Mall of the Emirates Hotel
Apparently the glass, while obscured, isn’t totally peep proof as Elodie, who was showing me around, recounted. There was the time everyone on the slope got quite the eyeful through the chalet windows and an emergency staff member had to sprint up to the room to warn the occupants that they were on display.
Weird? Embarrassingly opulent? Magnificent or just plain bonkers, its just another amazing suite in the Dubai wonderland.
Bookings, prices and chalet information can be found on The Kempinski Mall of the Emirates Hotel website here.
Sticks at Dawn: Camel Polo at the Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club
Hit it! Hit it!” My jockey, Riaz, pleaded with me as I swung my arms backwards, shoulder screaming in protest and biceps like malnourished grapes straining to bring the leaden stick downwards onto the demon of a ball that had eluded me all morning.
The hammer connected with a thunk, shunting the ball all of two spectacular feet across the pitch. The thunk was followed by a crunch as I thwacked my mount, Moussiah, around the ankles. She swivelled her regal head towards me.
“Idiot.” Her liquid brown eyes said. “Bugger.” I said, aloud. Who knew a game of camel polo could be so difficult to master?
Very, as it turned out. Polo with ponies? Bah! Frankly you haven’t lived until you’ve lurched from side to side while swiping at an inflatable practice ball with a reinforced, six-foot broomstick.
That was from my diary and was written just after a tension-filled, gruelling (read: relaxed, mildly strenuous) couple of rounds of camel polo, Dubai’s ultimate grass roots sport. These beautiful, preened and pampered beasts are available for brave tourists and corporate away days and a morning spent learning how to play this most elite of sports was honestly the most fun I had in Dubai.
Gulf Ventures can organise city transfers, half day city tours and a camel polo experience like the one I tried. Visit www.desertadventures.com to book or for more information.
Brunch at Spectrum on One starts from £58 per person, or £76 including unlimited alcohol. See their website for details here.
Entering the seven-starred Burj Al Arab is like walking into a modern-day Disney palace. The doormen have IPads, there’s 24 carat gold paved on the mosaic floors and there’re suites so elaborate and discreet that they’re stored on security access only floors.
Through the glass doors, the concept of a ceiling is suddenly ripped away as you find yourself in a vast, echoing space and, as your eyes go up and up and up and UP, you soon realise that this hotel is possibly one of the most staggering and terrifying places that you’ve ever set foot in.
I managed to scrape my jaw off the floor and nod weakly as our guide, the impossibly pretty Nazila, explained that the inner atrium could fit two Eiffel Towers inside and the fountain used to spit all the way to the top floor, before it had to be tamed to save guests from death by drenching. I continued to be lost for words during an afternoon tea that started with shortcake as light as air and a waiter with the world’s most flamboyant champagne pouring style and ended with a cappuccino topped with 24 carat gold dust, which I prompted scattered into the air with one excited exhalation.
Then Nazila walked us on a never-ending display of the delights of Burj’s inner sanctum. There were glass lifts that moved so fast your ears popped, rooftop restaurants with panoramic views of the man-made world islands, an underwater restaurant with its very own famous resident fish – George – and a Royal Suite with a revolving velvet bed and a shower covered in gold leaf.
There were stomach-churning peeks over the ledge on the 25th floor, there were squeals of disbelief, of wonder, of sheer horror that anyone could afford to travel and live like this and of childish abandon in a place that disarms you with pomp and privilege, shocks you with opulence and ostentatiousness and galls you with riches and ritual. It’s gorgeous and garish, its mental and marvellous, it’s…it’s…It’s the Burj Al Arab, which says it all really.
Traditional afternoon tea at the Burj costs £75. Book on their website, here.