Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I spent all of last week in Dubai in meetings with bankers and other business partners. Although, the place looks like it sprung up mushroom like out of the dessert I am overall extremely impressed with the quality of what I found. I stayed at the Emirates Towers which is just about the nicest “business” hotel I’ve ever stayed at. The only hotels I’ve visited that beat the Emirates Towers on comfort and service are old style Grand Hotels such as the Oriental Bangkok and Plaza Athene in Paris. In addition to great quality the place has a buzz about it as does all of Dubai that you get in dynamic places.

There is also a huge amount of kitsch going on. Dubai is the sort of place that would really have liked the ’80 and the ’80 would have liked it back. The buildings are not built for practicality they are built to show up one neighbour. And since you and your neighbour are likely oil sheiks there are some magnificently pointless buildings going up. Same goes for the malls, which are magnificent, they are massive and every conceivable luxury brand is present as is every conceivable trendy seller of jeans and T shirts. There is simply no way that the relatively small population of Dubai shops enough to keep all of these shops going. I suspect that a lot of shops have been set up by franchisees that can afford to loose $$$ on the venture.

I also vent to the most massively kitsch ’80 party ever held. It was the launch of the Pallazzo Versage Dubai i.e. the developers where inviting potential investors for a party to draw attention to the latest luxury development in Dubai. Nothing special about that except that the MC was Cindy Crawford (still absolutely yummy although she’s a big girl) and the DJ was Boy George (also a big girl). The decorations where a mixture of commercial material for the Pallazzo and displays of Versage’s most outrageous designs in dresses. Tell me, what could possibly be more ’80 than, Versage dresses, a supermodel made rich and famous for being pretty and a coke snorting cross dresser!

In any case this is my food blog. The food in Dubai was uniformly good and in some cases great. The best meal I had was actually at a private house. We where invited to dinner at the house of some wealthy Iranians who put up a traditional Iranian meal all made in house. Unfortunately they also served copious quantities of wine so there will be no lengthy descriptions of the grub as I don’t really remember in sufficient detail. Basically, traditional Iranian food but unusually good.

I also went to a chop house, a Chinese dim sum place, a Japanese yakitory place, an Indian curry house, an Iranian restaurant and the Buddha Bar Dubai. The chop house was called The Chop House and served a perfect veal chop with some lovely pinot noir. What I call a perfect veal chop basically means caramelised on the outside and pink in the centre. They did that. All of the rest where good but not fab except the food at Buddha Bar which was much better than what you get at the original in Paris. The Buddha Bar Dubai is also much, much bigger than its Parisian parent.

I’m staying at the Mina A' Salam hotel when I go back to Dubai on Friday. It is from the same Jumeirah chain as the Emirates Towers but apparently more of a tourist destination. The hotel describes itself thus:

“Nestled on the shores of the Arabian Gulf, Mina A' Salam is the 'harbour of peace' - and gateway to Madinat Jumeirah, The Arabian Resort of Dubai. Offering a unique escape into a world rich in culture and faithful to time honoured values, Mina A' Salam is a grand boutique hotel of exquisite style”.
I am rather looking forward to this!


gledwood said...

Hi you've been in my linxx list for some weeks actually but I've not been by very much. You got mixed up with everything else. So now I've given you your own section... I thought I'd say hi as you came to mind tonight... I've been reorganizing my sidebar and you've now got your own section under "Cookery Blogs". I've also opened 2 new video blogs. You really must see my sneezing panda clip. It's really entertaining!! See you there maybe... All the best to you
"Gledwood Vol 2"

Mark said...

Thanks for the post. I reckon you captured the vibe of Dubai pretty nicely. It's a very unusual city. There are many, many fine dining experiences to be had in the many, many Dubai 5, 6 and 7 star hotels - no doubt about it. One of the things I really enjoyed when I lived there was getting off the beaten track and checking out the back street curry houses, chinese and other sub continental restaurants. There is some incredible food to be had in these hidden gems. Thanks again for the post! Mark