It was snowing when I left my house this morning. Now I’m enjoying a balmy evening from the comfort of my balcony at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. Looking across the Arabian Gulf to Dubai’s Manhattan-style skyline, the city’s modern glamour is impossible to ignore.
Next morning I’m up at 6am, keen to kick off my first day in Dubai with an early start. After watching the sun rise above the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach and numerous other grand hotels that grace the marina shoreline, I head downstairs for breakfast.
Imperium International Buffet is Jumeirah Zabeel Saray’s all-day restaurant, specialising in French-inspired dishes in an opulent setting. Its lavish, Jazz-band-accompanied weekend brunches are famous, but I’m (just a tad) too early for this so go straight to the breakfast options. Through a kaleidoscope of colour – all tropical fruits, cured meats, fresh pastries and juices – I manage to remain focused and locate the omelette station.
The chef plies his trade from the open kitchen, taking the plate I’ve loaded with my chosen ingredients and adding it to the pan, deftly mixing and turning to perfection. In the meantime I feed a granary slice through the roller grill and pour a glass of pineapple juice.
I grab a couple of miniature Tabasco bottles and make my way out to the terrace, noting the birdsong as I choose a table beneath a grove of date palms. The omelette’s light, fluffy texture, soft cheesy centre and subtle flavours picked out by the hot sauce are exactly what I need, and bode well for the culinary journey I intend my Dubai holiday to be.
Modern Dubai is from every point of view a spectacle. It exists as the manifestation of human endeavour and ambition. In its unashamed bravado lies its charm, the mitigation for its financial muscle.
Behind the glass facades, the marble and money, there’s a spirit of enterprise that’s easy to admire. A thriving ex-pat community was seduced by Dubai’s American Dream-style promise of prosperity in return for hard work, and it seems to be a promise well kept.
If there’s one place that provides real-time evidence of all this, it has to be the Burj Khalifa – the ‘city in the sky’. Seen from At The Top, the observation deck on floor 124 of the world’s tallest building, the vast metropolis of Dubai starts to make sense.
Down there, somewhere, is the next stop on my itinerary: the Sheikh Muhammad Centre for Cultural Understanding, where the old-new juxtaposition that defines this emirate will be brought sharply into focus.
Join us for more of Dubai’s culinary & cultural treasures in Part Two.
Many thanks to DTCM, Qantas and Jumeirah Group for organising a wonderful trip.