Archive for August, 2007

Big, bigger, biggest

I live at Dubai Marina and yesterday evening drove to Burj Dubai Old Town to meet a group of friends. The journey is less than half an hour.

It occurred to me that in that short distance I saw:

The world’s tallest building, Burj Dubai.

The world’s largest retail shopping project, when it’s finished, Dubai Mall.

The world’s tallest hotel, Burj Al Arab.

The world’s largest man-made island, Palm Jumeirah.

The world’s largest man-made marina, Dubai Marina.

When you live here and see these things being built every day you tend to just accept them without much thought. Pause to think about it and it really is astonishing for a place as small as Dubai.

Burj%20Dubai%20B.jpg

Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building, from Old Town

More eating out

I’ll vouch for Automatic’s good-ness. Many a lunch hour has found me walking into/calling in Automatic.
But, this post is not about Automatic. This is about a cozy place called Stefano’s, in Al Barsha, past teh Mall of Emirates.

Stefano’s is an Italian restaurant. Though, I am not sure if the term restaurant applies to a place like it. Paintings line the wall (and are for sale), the overall ambiance is warm and rustic. And the food. The food is (of what I ate) fantastic. I had pasta (the name of which eludes me right now – but it had aubergines, tomato and something else) and a brilliant Tiramisu. Meal for two came to about 90 dhs. Which, to me, is a spiffy deal.

The chef I hear is an Indian. Which makes this place even better in my eyes.

On a scale of 10, I’d give it a 8.

Dubai more exciting than Monte Carlo…

“I had the same benefits in Monte Carlo, but I prefer Dubai because it is a much more exciting city with much more life”

So says former world number one junior tennis player Kristian Pless from Denmark.

He’s one of a growing number of sports professionals who either have homes here in which they spend some time or have moved here permanently.

They give the weather, the facilities, the geographic location, the lifestyle as other reasons for choosing Dubai.

World tennis number one Roger Federer is reported to spend more time at his home in Dubai Marina than in his country of birth Switzerland.

England footballers David Beckham and Michael Owen have houses here, as do their team mates Joe Cole, Ashley Cole, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville.

Golfers South African Ernie Els, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson & Dane Thomas Bjorn plus British snooker star Peter Ebdon are just some of the sportsmen who are now based in Dubai as is former Indian Davis Cup tennis player Zeeshan Ali.

With the ICC, International Cricket Council, now based in Dubai and Sports City construction well advanced I think more and more sports stars will change their base to Dubai.

There’s an interesting article on the subject in Gulf News just here.

Eating out.

One of the nice things about Dubai is that it’s easy for us to indulge in one of our favourite pastimes – eating out.

We have hundreds, maybe thousands, of cafes, coffee shops, restaurants from horribly expensive signature restaurants in five-star luxury hotels to little neighbourhood street cafes. And cuisine from just about anywhere in the world, so the choice is amazing.

We like to ‘graze’ rather than have a set meal – the Spanish tapas, Chinese dim sum, Arabic mezza style with several small dishes of different items giving a range of textures and flavours.

I’ll talk about mezza another time because I wanted now to highlight something that has always surprised me – the amount of free food that comes with an Arabic meal.

Salad, olives, pickle, bread basket are all normal complimentary items, and not in small amounts either.

For example, here’s what we get in Automatic, which is a small chain of restaurants dotted around the city. We go to the one in Beach Centre Mall at the top of Beach Road in Jumeirah where I took this photo of the free inclusions:

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Rollercoaster Metro

Dubai’s new rail system, known as the Metro, is 60% completed according to a recent announcement from the RTA.

Although unseen, apart from the traffic chaos around the major station sites, the tunneling beneath the city is well advanced. The section going under the Creek is reported to have been completed.

The visible section above ground along the main freeway, Shaikh Zayed Road, running from the city to Jebel Ali is moving at a very fast pace, visibly changing almost daily and small signs indicating where stations will be and their names are in place in many locations. So we’re able to get some visible idea of what it’s going to be like.

Two things that have become apparent intrigue me. They are that the overground section has some quite tight bends and it also has hills and valleys, almost a gentle rollercoaster.
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