Remember Tesla and the infinity pool in Dubai’s first inflight magazine? Then. We thought we had already seen luxury. It was just the beginning and the epitome of what luxury means: Burj Al Arab by Jumeirah Group, opened in 1999, a five-star hotel (but known as a seven-star hotel because of its grandeur).
Right in the hall, you will be amazed by the abundance of real gold gilding and Rolex watches, indicating that this is a work where every detail is thought out. And it all started with a bigger idea: “Create something that has never been done before and will never be done again.” was thinking about United Arab Emirates (UAE) Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, with whom the Burj Al Arab was created, according to a guide on a tour of the hotel.
Yes, because such a structure deserves to be seen by everyone, even those who can only pay about 65 euros, and not a night of more than 900 euros for two. Or more. In the case of Ronaldo, the Kardashians, Justin Bieber, Gigi Hadid and Nelson Mandela, who have already settled into the royal suite, on the 25th floor of the 27th, with everything you can’t imagine on two floors: a staircase lined with leopard carpet; a double bedroom with a round bed and a mirror on the ceiling; a royal bedroom with a swivel bed; gilded TV; and an elevator to get in and out of the suite.
After seeing all this, we understand that one of two things: either we are not very impressionable, or it is undeniable that so many details fall into a tasteless spectrum, where we did not even dream of staying. The same cannot be said for the rest of the rooms in the 27-storey hotel, which also includes a panoramic restaurant, the Skyview Bar, which recently opened also for lunch.
Another good option for lunch is SAL, a beach club run by Portuguese Marta Fidalgo, whom we had the chance to meet.
Camões, in this salty sea, in SAL there are no tears for Portugal
SAL was a project conceived by Jumeirah Group CEO José Silva of Portugal and opened in September 2020 by the hands of Marta Fidalgo, a Portuguese woman who traveled to Dubai in 2016. She has already passed through London, where she went 23 years after she completed her studies in marketing and tourism in Portugal, but tired of the always oppressive weather in the United Kingdom, she decided to try the opportunity, where the sun is always high, the heat detoxifies from the body and paradise beaches. inviting you to take a dip.
“I had a friend who said, “Martha, you have to come here. It’s like a holiday all year round. You’ll like it, it’s always sunny here.” Because I’m completely fed up with this weather. let’s try”. I sent my resume and then the trip here began. I worked for several companies, such as the Kempinski Hotel,” he said during lunch, until he got to the point where SAL entered his life and became the 7th pre-open in his career.
The Beach Club combines a dip in the pool, the opportunity for a light and sophisticated Mediterranean-inspired lunch, and a luxurious 360-degree view of the beach or the Burj Al Arab.
We didn’t set foot in the pool, as tempting as it might be, but we did try some of SAL’s specialties served on tableware from the Portuguese brand Vista Alegre. Caviar over tuna tartare (€51) to start with, plus tomato gazpacho (€10.40) to cool to almost 40ºC, followed by an incredible trenette pasta with pesto, tomato and crab (€70.20).
Then, yes, from Dubai we went back to Portugal for a moment on a Portuguese sea bream with fried potatoes (€65), whose sauce on the plate made our gluttony grab another piece of bread to soak up the broth. And since the space was founded by a Portuguese woman, it must have had a bit of what belongs to us. To end.
As for desserts, in addition to the raspberry tart, mango sago (made with vegan tapioca pearls), and creamy tiramisu, there were mini custard tartlets. A piece of Portugal on the table and in the staff, including the friendly Sophia, 21, who served us and Thiago in charge of managing the poolside sunbeds, allowing Portuguese visiting Dubai (and the Dubai Tourism Department expects by the end of 2022 all travelers before the pandemic will return 100%, according to Around the World), even on vacation.
Yes, and on the day spent in the SAL pool (about 208 euros, with half the amount in the account), you must go to the bathroom. Those who stay all day have access to a bathroom with scales, lockers, deodorant, and (what impressed us most) a coffee maker – an attack for those who only hear the name or smell the rhythm.
Video made for Instagram
The morning of the second day in Dubai started at the Dubai Frame. It is better to visit with a not too full stomach, so before visiting, we went to SAL, because here you are invited to walk along a 150-meter-high glass bridge. It starts with what would be a historical explanation, brief and not very explanatory, but from the very point.
However, we learned the biggest details about the Dubai Rama almost immediately after our departure. Perhaps if we had realized earlier that this infrastructure (by and large, like everything else in Dubai) was designed by about 3600 specialists, from engineers to architects, and that the bridge has 116 square meters of smart glass that becomes transparent when a person walks, we would have appreciated the experience on top of the building more.
This experience is not for everyone as you have to be a bit fearless to cross the bridge. While we didn’t even feel butterflies in our stomachs – someone jumping out of a plane might already be immune to some emotions at times (not all, as we’ll cover in future episodes) – there were those around us who were more cautious.
More or less apprehensively, the Dubai frame is the icon of Dubai to visit, which, in addition to the interior looking good in photos, the outside is an Instagram frame without the addition of filters.
A visit to the Dubai Frame starts from 65 euros per person.
Live like a Bedouin for one night
There is an image that we will not forget from this trip to Dubai: James holds the steering wheel of a yellow 1951 Land Rover with one hand, while outside he feels the heat, the dust, the wind that rushes at the speed of a car with the other. (albeit shortened due to the sustainable concept of safari, which we will talk about in a moment). The gaze was attentive on the road, and the smile plunged into thoughts, we believe, about how good it is to feel the desert.
We didn’t get that level of privacy from James, but at least that’s what we felt too, and thanks to him. We went on a desert safari with Platinum Heritage Safaris, the only desert ecotourism company that James worked for for a year and a half. He left Brazil at the age of 20, went to live and work in Australia for five years, then to New Zealand, later went to Dubai and is not going to stay here because he wants to “travel as much as possible”.
Luckily, he hasn’t left the country yet, because this Brazilian’s caipirinha-craving excitement makes up for any alcohol that’s taxed in Dubai at prices that leave us in the mood for a cocktail or even a beer.
Platinum Heritage Safaris feature restored Land Rover vehicles that drive carefully through the Dubai Desert Conservation Area (the oldest and one of the largest national parks in the UAE) without destroying the dunes and vegetation that the animals feed on. Arabian oryx and take tourists to the Dubai Sustainable Tourism Awards 2019 award-winning eco-friendly camps that last all night long.
Before that, James took us to see the waves of the desert, goof, the protected national tree, pass by the desert resort of Al Maha (“beautiful eyes” in Portuguese) and watch a falconry show (one of the national animals). This was the last stop before arriving at the camp for a Bedouin experience, that is, one that shows what the traditions of the nomadic tribes of the Arabian Desert are like.
At the entrance, a short cup of coffee (which, if you paid attention to the previous logbook, is a good sign) and a date, and then a feast with breaks for cultural traditions. Despite the hot night, nothing takes away from the comfort of the soup, especially lentils with aragaki pita, made with just four ingredients – “water, salt, flour and love,” as James explained to us – and which is good in every way: simple, in soup or with hummus in appetizers, next to cheesecake.
To make room for the principals, we watched a performance of traditional Dubai music and Al-Razfa dance (and had it not been for daytime fatigue, we would have teamed up).
For the authorities, something controversial: camel meat, when camels were also near the camp for those who wanted to take a walk. But if we assume that this is ecotourism, then this is just one of the points that protect animals and nature. Forward.
The mutton was boiled as if it were a kind of chowder from the caves, which was traditionally done in the following way: they dug a hole underground, opened the mutton, cleaned the meat and cooked the meat in the hole. . The difference between then and now is that it used to take about 24 hours to cook because the lamb was placed inside a palm leaf, but now it takes 4 to 6 hours because it is covered with aluminum foil.
After a planetary session to learn how to identify the constellations and some hookah, desserts followed, including the famous Arabic lukaymat balls. At the end, Arabic coffee or camel milk, which did not convince us. Those who drink milk at any time, hot or cold, may appreciate it, but for those who, like us, have for several years indulged only in herbal drinks, which are almost impossible to smell, let alone drink.
The desert trip starts at around €155 per adult and includes an adventure package (welcome pack), 60-minute safari, falconry, dinner, camel rides and cultural activities.
From ostentation to luxury, in one word, to sum up the second day of the logbook: intense.
*MAGG traveled at the invitation of Dubai Tourism.