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Get off the beaten track and find a tucked-away treasure UAE DHS15

Also inside: A sneak peek inside Expo 2020, Valentine’s Day special, Lit Fest and more.

Asil is a balance of modern innovation, elegance and tradition in the Oriental realms of food, decor and musical style, located at the most stylish urban hotspot, Rixos Premium Dubai, in the heart of Dubai, Jumeirah Beach Residence. An authentic fusion of Arabesque cuisine, blending Turkish senses, Lebanese flavors and Moroccan taste, presented with a twist. R. +971 4 520 0055 Rixos Premium Dubai, Jumeirah Beach Residence, P.O.Box 643660, Dubai, UAE Dine@asilrestaurant.com, www.asilrestaurant.com A Concept by SWOT Hospitality • swothospitality.com



28 EXPO 2020 DUBAI What’s inside Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion?


32 VIP DUBAI If money was no object, here’s how to be downright daring with the dirhams

Page 32

28 What’s On_3


REGULARS 10 Yalla! Quick fix of news

74 Last-minute staycation Dome home living in the mangroves at Pura Eco Retreat


Cover: Sheila Deocareza

Stay in touch

37 CONSUME 38 EAT Gourmet desert dining at Sonara, Spanish cuisine at Lola’s Taberna, and TikTok famous chef opens CZNBurak. Plus, cooking classes to try



WhatsOn.ae Our stunning website is packed with news, restaurants, culture, shopping, sport and spas. It’s your online destination for stuff to do in the UAE. Get clicking.

Soho Beer Garden in Meydan is our Bar Of The Month Page 50


49 CULTURE 50 AGENDA Six unmissable art events to attend in the UAE this month

53 THEATRE Barmy Britain at the QE2

56 54 LIT FEST How to navigate the awardwinning Emirates Airline Festival of Literature like a seasoned pro


53 4_What’s On

Who to meet at this month’s Xposure Photography & Film Festival 2021 in Sharjah


What’s On Digital Your essential guide to what’s happening in Dubai is also available on the App Store.

A new virtual reality park opens in DIFC

64 WELL-BEING From reiki to tuning forks, here’s our guide to the best alternative therapies in the city

68 TRAVEL Bucket list adventures: The world’s most romantic holidays

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FROM TO YOU Dine divine at the Mekong brunch at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort

Discover the wonderful sights, sounds and exotic scents of Asia every Friday at Mekong’s beloved brunch. Located in the stunning surrounds of Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, you’ll find tropical Thailand vibes without even having to leave the UAE. Guests enjoy sleek Asian beats while exploring a Friday brunch that includes plates piled high with Thai salads and authentic dim sum, plus a range of sharing dishes that combine flavours and spices of Thailand, China and Vietnam. Highlights include spring rolls, bao buns and dainty dumplings, while mains run

the gamut of pungent Penang curries, crispy steamed seabass and the What’s On favourite prawn Thai curry, rounding off the festivities with exotic fruit, mango and passionfruit crème brulee and tea-ramisu. So take a seat at rickshaw tables on the terrace or party inside the colourful main dining area and get ready for a truly exotic feast for the senses. Mekong’s new From Asia To You brunch takes place every Friday from 12pm to 3pm for Dhs295 with soft drinks, Dhs395 with house drinks, Dhs495 with sparkling, and Dhs199 for guests between 12 to 18 years. T&Cs apply.


02.21 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Obaid Humaid Al Tayer MANAGING PARTNER & GROUP EDITOR Ian Fairservice

HEAD OF CONTENT – WHAT’S ON Laura Coughlin laura.coughlin@motivate.ae DIGITAL EDITOR - WHAT’S ON Sarah Gamboni sarah.gamboni@motivate.ae ONLINE REPORTER Elise Kerr elise.kerr@motivate.ae ONLINE REPORTER Miles Buckeridge miles.buckeridge@motivate.ae ONLINE REPORTER Lauren Fletcher lauren.fletcher@motivate.ae JUNIOR ONLINE REPORTER Aarti Saundalkar aarti@motivate.ae SENIOR VIDEO EDITOR Surajit Dutta surajit@motivate.ae VIDEOGRAPHER Steve Eraña steve.erana@motivate.ae CONTENT CREATIVE ARTIST Joachim Guay joachim.guay@motivate.ae WEB DEVELOPER Firoz Kaladi firoz@motivate.ae

ART DIRECTOR Sheila Deocareza sheila@motivate.ae JUNIOR DESIGNER Remy Thokchom thokchom.remy@motivate.ae

GENERAL MANAGER – PRODUCTION Sunil Kumar sunil@motivate.ae ASSISTANT PRODUCTION MANAGER Binu Purandaran binu@motivate.ae PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR Venita Pinto venita@motivate.ae

CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER Anthony Milne anthony@motivate.ae PUBLISHER David Burke davidb@motivate.ae GROUP SALES MANAGER Varsha Bhatia varsha@motivate.ae SENIOR SALES MANAGER Taran Singh taran.singh@motivate.ae SENIOR SALES MANAGER Violeta Popescu violeta.popescu@motivate.ae DIGITAL SALES DIRECTOR Sabir Khodabux sabir.khodabux@motivate.ae

Annual Subscription UAE Dhs180 • GCC and International US$130 (inclusive of postal charges) Head Office: Media One Tower, Dubai Media City, PO Box 2331, Dubai, UAE, Tel +971 4 427 3000; Fax +971 4 428 2270 Dubai Media City: SD 2-94, 2nd Floor, Building 2, Dubai, UAE, Tel: +971 4 390 3550, Fax: +971 4 390 4845 Abu Dhabi: PO Box 43072, UAE, Tel: +971 2 677 2005, Fax: +971 2 677 0124, E-mail: editor-wo@motivate.ae London: Acre House, 11/15 William Road, London NW1 3ER, UK, Email: motivateuk@motivate.ae

Printed by Emirates Printing Press, Dubai

What’s On_7



...the What’s On Zoom calls have sounded like we were making maps, not magazines. “You know that café with the blue chairs? Turn left there, go past that shop that sells saucepans, and it’s on the right. Behind the car park. Next to the tree.” The reason for these descriptions of Dubai’s geography has been our quest to find the city’s hidden gems. In my 10 years here, I’ve tried to see the best of what the emirates has to offer. Yet we all know that Dubai moves at an incredible rate, and while it’s easy to be caught up in the bright lights and bling, you need to scratch below the surface to discover the real treasure. Turn to page 22 for hidden places to eat, relax, learn and play. Also this month we’ve been doing a spot of daydreaming, imagining what life could really be like if money were no object *sigh*. Check out p32 for our VIP in Dubai story. Elsewhere, find out which new brunches are starting this month, plus, read our interview with the first Arab pitmaster Hattem Mattar. Finally, we have lots of alternative therapies for you to try this spring. Be warned, there are no quick fixes here – sorry people, some of these methods may just make you have a good night’s sleep, which might not be such a bad thing. Enjoy the issue.

Get in touch twitter.com/ WhatsOnDubai facebook.com/ WhatsOnDubai instagram.com/ WhatsOnDubai youtube.com/ WhatsOnDubai

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NEW ITEMS. NEW LOVE. level c, liberty house, difc 04 359 6900 | 050 686 7122


check out our new menu!


PHASE ONE OF BLA BLA BEACH CLUB OPENS When: From Feb 1 The first phase of the enormous new party place Bla Bla is open on JBR. You’ll find three bars, each with its own theme, a separate beach bar, plus restaurants and a beach club with much more to come in phase two. q blablabeachclub.ae


When: February 2 Colin Clague, Nick Alvis and Scott Price will join forces for an exclusive six-course dinner, inspired by their time in Dubai. a Folly by Nick & Scott, Souk Madinat, 7pm, Dhs650. Tel: (04) 430 8535. @follydubai 10_What’s On

MALALA YOUSAFZAI IN CONVERSATION When: February 6 Youngest Nobel laureate and Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai headlines this year’s Emirates Lit Fest. Find out who else is attending on p54. q emirateslitfest.com


When: February 11 and 12 Prepare for raucous bingo antics with special pop guests Dane Bowers, Shane Lynch, Abz and Ben Ofoedu. Ticket cost Dhs100. q @bongosbingodubai


When: Every Saturday Choose from Roast beef, lamb or chicken with Yorkshire pudding, roasted veggies and potatoes for just Dhs145 at the legendary Hatta Fort Hotel. The perfect feast post hike. a Hatta Fort Hotel, Sat noon to 6pm. Tel: (0)4 8099333. @jaresorts


When: Until February 10 There are nine new rides, an authentic Bollywood themed shopping experience and new restaurants to try. To celebrate its reopening, tickets are buy-one-get-one-free until Feb 10. q dubaiparksandresorts.com


When: February 19 The UAE’s first adventure obstacle course moves to The Arch Dubai. Expect over 22 obstacles over 10km or 12 obstacles over 5km. q @desertwarriorchallenge


When: February 20 The UAE-based NSO Symphony Orchestra brings the best scores from Hollywood’s most iconic movies to life at Dubai Opera. q dubaiopera.com


When: February 25 to March 13 The city-wide gastronomic extravaganza returns with masterclasses, special menus, tours and a beachside food hall. q visitdubai.com What’s On_11

took a life of its own. I’d be at my oil and gas job and my phone would be ringing with people ordering brisket. Now our menu offers everything from wagyu brisket, smoked turkey, chicken, lamb leg, beef ribs and sausages.




What’s life like as the world’s first Arab Pitmaster? Life is fantastic. We’re preaching the gospel of home cooked food to anyone that’ll hear us, and our followers are preaching it too, which is wonderful. We’re living in a time where food is the focus for the way people connect.

ubai Famous is a What’s On page focusing on people out there in the city making the scene. They’re out there around town, shaping Dubai into what it is, creating the culture, food and life around us. We asked them what’s good in Dubai. We asked them what’s bad in Dubai. We asked them to tell us more, more, more about their wonderful selves…

So The Mattar Farm – home of Dubai’s smoked brisket. How did all this happen? [Laughs] The Mattar Farm saved me from a broken heart. I’d just got divorced and needed a new purpose. At the same time, I’m raising daughters here and I wanted to ensure they lived analogue lives. You know, dirt under their fingernails, morning chores, that stuff. Without that, you can become entitled. I wanted my children to have chores, to collect the eggs outside from the hen house, pick tomatoes for our breakfast, and not be frightened of animals.

Photo: Tamer Gahed

I have two goats [who’ll be donated to the Dubai labour force in the summer], a large pen of chickens for my morning shakshuka and much more. I love to grow what I eat, and I eat what I grow. Tell us about the path to becoming the world’s first Arab Pitmaster… At first it was just about barbecuing kebabs for friends. It wasn’t until I went to Texas and had smoked brisket that everything changed. In 2014, I started learning how to do it on my own, but it was a

What annoys you about Dubai? Dubai isn’t known for longevity. Everyone’s here to make a quick buck and then leave. And then everyone’s gripe is that it’s artificial, but we can make it real by putting in the time and effort.

“WE’RE PREACHING THE GOSPEL OF HOME COOKED FOOD TO ANYONE THAT’LL HEAR US” ridiculous process. There was several hundred kilos of bad meat until I figured out how to make it. I would sleep next to The Sentinel (his original smoker), trying to figure out the vents, how much wood to use, and how much charcoal it needed. It’s an 18-hour process, I was getting disheartened, and I’d give up. But I was obsessed, so I’d try again until I finally got it.

And that’s you? Well, one of us has to start putting down roots here. There is nowhere else like Dubai. I can leave my door open, the girls can play outside past midnight and I could sleep without a worry. There’s no other place on the planet that’s like that. If they don’t force me out, I’m dying here... q themattarfarm.com

And you grow your own produce? Oh I have lots of stuff. I grow the freshest, sweetest tomatoes you’ll find in Dubai; I grow mint, basil, and jasmine. 12_What’s On

How did The Mattar Farm take off? I still can’t answer that question. My inner circle told their outer circle, who told their outer circle. After that it


MARKS & SPENCER DOES ACTIVEWEAR FOR ALL? THAT’S A GOODMOVE If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get healthier for 2021, then you’ll want to look good whilst you’re doing it. Thankfully, the cherished British high street store is now the spot to snag a solid sports kit that doesn’t break the bank.


arks & Spencer has announced its latest Goodmove collection for Spring 2021, and in celebration of Goodmove’s first anniversary, it has also released a men’s and kids collection to help the whole family stay fit. Built to last, and is resistant to scuffs and tear, Goodmove is made with breathable, moisture wicking fabrics, which are ideal for indoor activities, or layered under coats and jackets for venturing outside.


Here’s a look at what’s new in store… FOR WOMEN Hero styles, refreshed for Spring with a bold new aesthetic FOR KIDS A focus on wellbeing and having fun, however they like to move GOODMOVE Cotton Zip Hoody Dhs175

FOR MEN A new, innovative collection with a strong focus on versatile performance and leisurewear

GOODMOVE Graphic Tee Dhs140

GOODMOVE Knot T-shirt Dhs85

GOODMOVE Basic Tee Dhs110

GOODMOVE Textured SS Tee Dhs120

GOODMOVE Overhead Quarter Zip Dhs95

GOODMOVE GO Move Legging Dhs175

GOODMOVE Layered Short Dhs140

GOODMOVE Leggings Dhs95

GOODMOVE Jogger Dhs175 GOODMOVE Shorts Dhs95

GOODMOVE 2 layer shorts Dhs175


Looking to treat someone special in your life to dinner on February 14? Here’s our pick of the restaurants to visit in Dubai What’s On_15


Bla Bla Dubai


Trust Dubai’s biggest new beach club to go bananas on Valentine’s Day. The chefs are preparing a 23-course sharing menu available in its Japanese venue Nami and Italian restaurant Onda. They’ll get burrata and grilled asparagus, California rolls, tuna pizza, 48hour short rib, apple crumble and more. a The Beach opposite JBR, from 6pm, Dhs499 including a bottle of sparkling. Tel: (058) 6063535. @blabladubai

Perfect beachside locations

Aprons & Hammers Beach House

Masti Expect inventive contemporary Indian by the sea at the lively Masti in La Mer, where a three-course menu awaits. a La Mer, from 8pm, Dhs400 per couple with soft drinks, Dhs550 per couple with house drinks. Tel: (0)43444384. mastidubai.com Ammos

Samakjé Restaurant & Lounge


Samakjé Restaurant & Lounge

The beachside Greek restaurant launches a limitedtime Valentine’s Day menu offering a selection of dishes for two. There’s a seafood platter, mixed meat platter, and a Greek-style whole lobster spaghetti among others. a Rixos Premium Dubai, Sun Feb 14 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (052) 7779473. @ammosgreekdubai

The Selfish Bull

Aprons & Hammers Beach House Make romance fun by sharing buckets of succulent, saucy, seafood that is both delicious and messy at Aprons & Hammers Beach House on Palm West Beach. Couples receive a complimentary cocktail when dining on Valentine’s Day at the Beach House location. a Palm West Beach, 5pm onwards. Tel: (0)4 5895444. @apronsandhammers 16_What’s On

Enjoy an evening of seafood and sea views with a complimentary welcome cocktail and a heart-shaped cake at this friendly Levantine restaurant at The Pointe. a East Marina, The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, 5pm onwards. Tel: (0)4 5846777. samakje.com

Azure Beach The pretty beach club at Rixos Premium Dubai, JBR is offering a special couples deal on Valentine’s Day for Dhs395. That gets you a couple of sunbeds and a selection of mixed sushi paired with a bottle of rose. a Rixos Premium Dubai, JBR. Tel: (0) 43421924. @azurebeachdubai

On Valentine’s Day, The Selfish Bull’s tagline is ‘bromance over romance’. Lads are welcome to 25 per cent off steak, whiskey and red wine, as well as buy one get one free offers on select house drinks. a Bluewaters, noon to closing. Tel: (0)4 3993638. @theselfishbulldxb


Celebrate Love

Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites has the perfect views to enjoy a dream date with your loved one. Craft your perfect Valentine’s Day celebrations with a choice of unique experiences: 12th February: Valentine’s Day brunch at Observatory Bar & Grill Anti-Valentine’s brunch at The Croft 14th February: Romantic set menu at Observatory Bar & Grill Dinner under the stars at The Croft




LEGENDARY FAVOURITES Cosy, cool romantic spots


Atelier M Enjoy a delicious three-course meal (including a welcome drink) overlooking superb view of the marina, while sampling some of Atelier M’s best dishes. a Pier 7, Dubai Marina, from 7pm, Dhs599 per couple. Tel: (0)44507766. atelierm.ae


BiCE Head Chef Davide Gardini has prepared a Valentine-themed four-course set menu featuring calamari stuffed with capers, home-made tortelli, fillets of rainbow trout and more. Choose between a candlelit setting indoors or dine under the stars on the terrace. a Hilton Dubai Jumeirah & Hilton Dubai The Walk, Dhs599 per couple with a glass of bubbly. Tel: (0)4 3182319. restaurant.JBR@hilton.com

Pure Sky Lounge & Dining

8pm to 11pm. Tel: (0)4 6021234. @noepedxb

Pure Sky Lounge & Dining

Coco Lounge Enjoy a platter, bottle of champagne and shisha under the stars at one of Media City’s most loved terraces. a Media One Hotel, from 7pm, Dhs299 per couple. Tel: (0)4 4271000. @cocoloungedxb

Larte Couples can enjoy a romantic dinner at Studio One’s Larte for Dhs399, with a choice of starter, main and dessert and a glass of bubbly on arrival. a Studio One Hotel, from 18_What’s On

LPM RESTAURANT & BAR - DUBAI Arguably the city’s number one go-to for date night, LPM presents its regular a la carte menu with one special addition – an indulgent Tiramisu with white chocolate and strawberries (Dhs55) . a LPM Dubai, Gate Village No 8, Tel: 4390505. lpmrestaurants.com/ dubai


6pm, Dhs399 per person. Tel: (0)45816870. @larte.dubai

Noépe The beautiful Cape Codinspired restaurant at Park Hyatt Dubai is offering a fourcourse menu served with a selection of Valentine-themed cocktails and mocktails. a Park Hyatt Dubai, from

Dubai Marina’s highest rooftop bar venue at JBR is celebrating Valentine’s Day a day early on February 13 with a five-course menu. Highlights include lobster and asparagus salad with miso mustard vinaigrette, seared scallop and grilled beef tenderloin with a side of a pumpkin puree. a Hilton Dubai Jumeirah & Hilton Dubai The Walk, Dhs499 per couple with a glass of bubbly. Tel: (0)4 3182319. restaurant.JBR@hilton.com

COYA Coya creates a new collection of sweets every Valentine’s Day, and this year’s platter combines its signature pastries, including a heart shaped cheesecake with strawberry sorbet. a Four Seasons, 7pm onwards, Dhs128 (dessert platter). @coyadubai


GO BIG OR GO HOME (ALONE) The top tickets




SECRET VALENTINE’S BRUNCH AT CAFÉ BELGE Fri February 12 Enjoy a day out with your friends or loved one at this party brunch and celebrate love at Café Belge. With incredible entertainment, smashing tunes and delicious dishes including oysters – this is the perfect party brunch to enjoy with your favourite people. a The Ritz Carlton, DIFC, 1pm to 4pm, Dhs295 with soft drinks, Dhs395 with house drinks. Secret-parties. com

Torno Subito


Anantara The Palm

Address Beach Resort The brand new hotel is hosting a variety of Valentine’s Day offers, including a three-course seafood dinner inside a cabana at The Beach Grill. a Address beach Resort, 6.30pm to 11.30pm, Dhs1,776 per couple. Tel: (0)4879866. @addressbeachresort

Akira Back Sit indoors or on the neon terrace with a six-course, sharing-style Asian menu. a W Dubai – The Palm, 6.30pm to 9pm and 9.30pm to midnight, Dhs1,250 per couple, Dhs1,500 ( for a window table). Tel: (0)4 2455800. @akirabackdubai 20_What’s On

The Westin Mina Seyahi

Anantara The Palm For an experience that’s close to dining on the pristine beaches of south east Asia, try Anantara’s special sunset dinner option. Choose from a lantern-lit table heaped with seafood to share, or hire a private gazebo decorated for the occasion. a Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, from Dhs1,999. Tel: (0)45678304. anantara.com

Fri February 12 This award-winning brunch has something for everyone. With amazing live music from the talented percussionist and a magician to make you gasp, it’s the perfect Valentine’s brunch. Plus, pick your wristband: green for single, red for taken, or orange for it’s complicated. a The Ritz Carlton, DIFC, 1pm to 4pm, Dhs299 with soft drinks, Dhs399 with house drinks. Secret-parties. com

Dine under the stars on the Tuscan-style terrace as Chef Francesco serves a specially crafted ‘San Valentino’ menu. Featuring poached oysters, seafood saffron risotto, beef tenderloin and more. a The Ritz-Carlton-Dubai, Feb 12, 13 and 14, 7pm to 11pm, Dhs795 per couple with soft drinks and one glass of bubbly, Dhs1,295 per couple with bubbly. Tel: (0)4 3186150. ritzcarlton.com/dubai

Torno Subito Chef Massimo has lovingly whipped up a five-course meal where signature dishes celebrate the 1950s Italian Riviera. Diners in the restaurant receive a welcome sparkling drink, or you can level up with your own private beach cabana and dine there with a bottle of Prosecco. a W Dubai – The Palm, from 7pm, Dhs949 per couple or Dhs2,400 on a private beach cabana. Tel: (0)4 2455800. @tornosubito

The Westin Mina Seyahi If private beach dining is your idea of an ideal romantic night out then The Westin should be right up your street. Choose from an Italian menu (Dhs1,000 to Dhs2,000 per person), an Aegean menu (Dhs1,500 to Dhs2,000 per person), or an Arabic menu (Dhs1,000 to Dhs1,500 per person) served right on the shoreline. a The Westin Mina Seyahi, Tel: (0)4 5117373. @westindubai

Nestled between the extraordinary backdrop of the Hajar Mountains and the glistening Indian Ocean, Le Méridien Al Aqah is a family friendly resort in Fujairah providing a scenic setting for a fun filled holiday. Your all-inclusive package includes daily breakfast, lunch and dinner at the resort’s all-day dining restaurant, Views, as well as free flowing soft and house beverages. Book your staycation and unwind in your guaranteed sea-facing room, indulge in gourmet cuisine or fuel your adrenalin with exciting watersports. Guests looking to book their ultimate beach getaway can call +971 9 244 9000 or visit our website www.lemeridien-alaqah.com


Coffee shops and cafes

Well-being & Hobbies

Cutting through malls and bypassing hotels in search of Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s best kept secrets



22_What’s On



t’s not easy stumbling upon hidden gems in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The thought of trekking into the dusty back alleys of Al Quoz, or streets before the corniche, when you’re nursing a very frothy cappuccino in your favourite café can be a tough sell for even the most hardy explorer. But persevere and you might just stumble upon something special. Here are a few of our favourites to get you started.

Well-being & Hobbies OKA Ceramics

Illustration: Sheila Deocareza

Where: Dubai Ever watched Patrick Swayze make a mess with all that wet clay and think ‘I could do way better than that’? Well now is your chance to shine. OKA Ceramics in Al Quoz not only sells its wares, the team also puts on pottery classes, so you can have your very own Ghost moment. a Al Quoz, Dubai, Mon to Sat 10am to 9pm, Fri 10am to 6pm. Tel: (0)4 882 5802. okaceramics.com

Art House Café Where: Abu Dhabi Eating in Abu Dhabi is not just a necessity – it’s an art. Everything from the upcycled furniture to the food on your plate is steeped in creativity at this quirky café. Dip your own brush and paint a plate while you’re waiting for your edible masterpiece to be served. a Villa 15, Al Huwelat Street, Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi, daily 9am to 11pm. Tel: (0)2 666 0175. arthousecafead.com

What’s On_23


Well-being & Hobbies

SEVA Where: Dubai This haven of tranquility was formerly Life N One café, and while it’s been given a spruce up, you’ll still find all of the super-healthy vegan dishes served in the blooming secret garden. Head to the meditation zone or yoga studio to chill out or enjoy a bit of responsible retail therapy in the consciously-sourced shop. a Beach Road, 27B Street, Jumeirah 1, Dubai, daily 8.30am to 8.30pm. Tel: (056) 534 2899. sevaexperience.com

Musician’s Warehouse Dubai

Seven Wellness Where: Abu Dhabi Men and women love Seven Wellness’ welcoming space, which is full of natural light, warm colours and a comfortable lounge area. The lovely – and lively – cafe makes smoothies, mushroom coffee, kombucha and made-to-order healthy bowls, which can be hard to come by in Abu Dhabi. More than just a yoga studio, Seven Wellness prides itself as a space that welcomes healing, self-love and community. q sevenwellness.ae 24_What’s On

Know your Levinson’s from your G&L’s? This music lover’s emporium located just opposite Bounce in Al Quoz is stocked to the ceiling with guitars (electric and acoustic), drums, amps, and accessories. Budding Hendrixes can also take guitar lessons inside the store for Dhs200 an hour. a 4B Street Al Quoz, Dubai, daily 10am to 8pm. Tel: (04) 3806761. musicianswarehousedubai.com

Coffee shops and cafes Project Chaiwala Cinema Akil Where: Dubai This homegrown tea shop started life snuggled away in independent film hub Cinema Akil, and despite a newer opening in Media City, the original is the true gem in our eyes. The authentic karak chai is brewed for two hours and poured with a real sense of ceremony, or if you’re peckish be sure to try the chilli-cheese toast. a Warehouse 68, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Dubai, daily 1pm to 9pm. Tel: (0)4 223. projectchaiwala.com

Unicorn Café Where: Abu Dhabi Trot on down to Unicorn Café in Abu Dhabi for a speciality latte complete with its own magical mane (whipped cream) and statuesque horn (cone wafer). The whimsical beverages, which come in flavours including saffron and rose, can be enjoyed in even more enchanting surroundings. Expect pretty flowers and lots of pink. a Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Street, Abu Dhabi. Tel: 0(2) 445 6069. instagram.com/ unicorncafe.ad

Shay Madhboot

Starbucks Al Seef Where: Dubai We’ll have a venti no-foam soy latte with a shot of heritage, please. Starbucks in Al Seef is a million miles away from your average coffee shop chain, and we’re big fans of the rustic charm. While away an afternoon sipping on your beverage of choice while looking out over the Creek. You’re welcome. a Al Seef, Dubai Creek, Dubai, Sun to Thur 6pm to 11pm, Fri and Sat 7am to 11pm. Tel: (0)4 419 0014. starbucks.com

Where: Abu Dhabi This family-run cafe goes back to basics with homely Middle Eastern dishes and traditional karak chai, but what it lacks in bells and whistles it makes up for in local charm – and smashing food. Housed in a residential area in Abu Dhabi with just four tables inside, Shay Madhboot is the definition of a hidden gem. a Dihan Street Muroor Road, Al Muroor, Abu Dhabi. Tel: (0)2 621 7323. @shaymadhboot

What’s On_25



Geek Kitchen Where: Abu Dhabi Geek Kitchen is more like a toy shop than an eatery, with wall-to-wall pop art, 500 Funko Pop figures on display and all manner of other nerdy paraphernalia. If you are hungry, however, you’ll be able to take on the Hulk Avo Smashed or indulge a weakness for Kryptonite Stuffed Chicken – though you might not be able to fit into your superhero suit afterwards. a Hamad Al Mubarak Building, Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi, daily 7.30pm to 11pm. Tel: (0) 2449 3330. geekkitchenuae.wixsite. com/restaurant

Dubai Offshore Sailing Clubhouse GOOD

DEAL Where: Dubai Unless you own a boat or happen to be an avid sailor chances are you haven’t been inside Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, but not doing so means you have missed out on one of Dubai’s best hidden treasures. You’ll have to make friends with a member or blag your way into the club, but when you do, you’ll get to relax in its gorgeous clubhouse overlooking the private marina. a Umm Suqeim 1, Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai. Tel: (04) 3941669. dosc.ae

Hanon Feras

Casa Della Pasta Where: Dubai For our next hidden gem, we’re going to take you away from the skyscrapers and city lights and transport you to the humble food hall. That’s right, so often synonymous with cheap and greasy fast-food chains, we’ve found a diamond in the rough. Depachika Food Hall at Nakheel Mall is home to a host of culinary delights, and Casa Della Pasta takes the crown. The team makes its fresh pasta daily with everything from tagliatelle to fusilli and macaroni. You can also order fresh pasta dishes served with homemade sauces and dine in. a Depachika, Nakheel Mall, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, Satu to Wed 10am to 10pm, Thur and Fri 10am to midnight. Tel: (0)4 570 7361. @casadellapasta_dxb 26_What’s On

Where: Abu Dhabi and Dubai For those in the know, Hanon Feras is the number one place to buy Arabic sweets and desserts. It’s known for its sensational kunafa – crispy shredded pastry, ooey and gooey stretchy cheese, and a rose water scented creamy semolina pudding. Order a slice at this retro dessert parlour or you can order a huge platter of kunafa kheshna cheese (approximately 4kg) for around Dhs300. It trumps a cheeseboard any day. a Various locations across the UAE. firassweets.net


Napo Pizzeria Abu Dhabi Where: Abu Dhabi This might be the coolest restaurant we’ve stumbled on in a while – an independent Italian restaurant – owned by Italians – serving food inspired by the city of Napoli. Sit outside among the foliage, and try to narrow down your order from the beautiful menu options. The crispy truffle pizza, lightly fried squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta and Parmesan, and that banoffee pie topped with honeycomb chocolate are must-haves. a Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi, 1pm to 11pm. Tel: (0)2 5544614. @napo. ristorante

Up and Below Where: Abu Dhabi Perched on the rooftop by one of Abu Dhabi’s busiest roads, this is an unlikely spot for one of the UAE’s best hidden gems – but Up & Below is hidden in plain sight. With top views, poolside vibes and handcrafted mixed drinks, it’s got all of the ingredients of a tourist hotspot, without the annoying crowds. a Courtyard by Marriott, World Trade Center Abu Dhabi, Tel: (0) 2 698 2222. @courtyardabudhabi


Xiao Wei Yang Hotpot Where: Dubai Surrounded by the highrises and lights of Dubai Marina, this unsuspecting hotpot spot might not be the most obvious place to eat – but for authentic Chinese fare and no-frills fun you needn’t look any further. Select a broth to share at the table and heap up your ingredients, before cooking them yourself in the bubbling cauldron of fragrant soup. a Royal Oceanic, Dubai Marina, Dubai. facebook. com/xiaoweiyangdubai

Where: Dubai This is one of the city’s closest kept secrets for Keralan cuisine – and best of all, you’re encouraged to play with your food. Head here at lunchtime for rice and parippu (spiced lentils) on a banana leaf, down tools and get stuck in fist-first. Dishes are authentic and flavourpacked, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. a Sheikh Hamdan Colony, Karama, Sat to Wed 6am to midnight, Thur and Fri 6am to 2am. Tel: (0)4 397 8139. aaraamamrestaurant.com

Flashback Where: Dubai Flashback is located behind a hidden door at Paramount Hotel in Downtown Dubai, and to gain access you’ll have to do a bit of detective work (or just ask staff at the front desk). The theme is 1920s prohibition era, complete with furry barstools and a retro gramophone. Pull up a chesterfield and let the smooth jazz take you away. a Flashback Speakeasy Bar & Lounge, behind a secret door, Paramount Hotel, Business Bay, Dubai, Sat to Thur 6pm to 2am, Fri to Sat 4pm to 2am. (0)4 246 6666. @flashbackspeakeasy

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Visitors are invited to check out Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion inside Expo 2020 Dubai. But what exactly is inside?

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isitors eagerly awaiting the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai are being given the opportunity to check out the exhibitions’ Thematic Pavilions ,starting with Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion. The other two Thematic Pavilions, Alif – The Mobility Pavilion and Mission Possible – The Opportunity Pavilion will open later in the first quarter, while the country pavilions will be open at the official launch on October 1, 2021. What’s On joined a special walk-thru run by John Bull, the Director of Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion, ahead of the official premiere opening to see exactly what is inside.

01 01 Expo Sustainability Pavilion Under the Ocean 02 Outer Core 03 Sea of Consumption 04 Laboratory of Future Values




Built to be net-zero for both energy and water, Terra features over 1,000 photovoltaic panels arranged both on the enormous roof canopy and on top of its series of ‘Energy Trees’ scattered around the pavilion. Terra’s interactive experience tells the story of humankind’s relationship with the planet. The beginning sees visitors walking around the outside of the pavilion, past greenery, and wild animal sculptures. It signifies the beginning of a timeline of change, starting with the lush

verdant forests, and beautiful clean oceans that covered the plane. As visitors progress through the immersive science centre, we’re faced with how humankind has affected the natural world. We’re encouraged to reconsider some of our everyday choices in light of the things we’ll see in an attempt to persuade everyone to be an active participant in making the world a better place.

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08 05 Sustainability Pavilion Would You Rather exhibit 06 Hall of Consumption 07 Editor Laura heads underwater 08 Beneath the ‘Energy Trees’ 09 Exterior of The Sustainability Pavilion

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Keen to check out Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion for yourselves? Visitor entry costs Dhs25 and pre-bookings must be made at expo2020dubai. com/en/pavilions-premiere. The experience is open from 3pm to 9pm on Tuesdays to Thursdays, and 4pm to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, until 10 April, 2021. a Expo 2020 Pavilions Premiere, Until Apr 10, Dhs25 per person, Tue to Thur 3pm to 9pm, Fri and Sat 4pm to 10pm. expo2020dubai.com/en/ pavilions-premiere

Photo: Dany Eid/Expo 2020

At the end of the experience, there’s a sustainably-focused café, which champions locallysourced produce, serving everything from Dibba Bay oysters, organic meats and fruit and vegetables sourced from Umm Al Qwain and Ras Al Khaimah. There’s also a large gift shop that has sourced most of its products from local sustainably-focused SMEs; including Wild Wood, a sunglasses brand made from reclaimed wood, and The Botanist, which produces earth-friendly, toxic-free cleaning supplies.


To pals back home, everyone in Dubai is constantly swigging bubbly, swanking around in G wagons, and mopping our sweaty brows in Dhs500 notes. And for the lucky few, life in the emirates is all that and more. But for us regular folks our week involves work, maybe the gym, the odd movie, a bargain brunch, the beach and more work. We scratched the shiny surface of the city to find out how to be downright daring with the dirhams * 32_What’s On


*GET READY TO MEET THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER. HOUSE So you’ll need somewhere nice to lay your head. How about a six-bed, ninebath villa in Jumeirah Golf Estates on a 18,400 sq ft plot, currently on the market for Dhs24.8million? It boasts landscaped gardens, an outdoor pool, two kitchens, cinema, and a massive basement to fit five of your cars. Check out our YouTube channel for a full Selling Sunset-style tour. q youtube.com/whatsondubai


CAR One of the most coveted cars on the UAE highways right now, the Lykan Hypersport supercar by W Motors (with a starting price of Dhs12.4million), is just the (speeding) ticket for millionaires, with sleek lines, quality safety spec and exciting performance guaranteed to make that drive to and from home much more interesting. q wmotors.ae

Cook? And ruin these nails? No way buddy. Luckily for those rumbling tummies, luxury catering company Dish can arrange for professionals to come into your kitchen with all the ingredients, equipment, plates and expertise to whip up a fine dining feast for you and your friends. Prices start from around Dhs300 for a basic package, including wait staff, chefs, and a three-course meal and bar package. But if you want, say, caviar, lobster, and wagyu, prices begin around Dhs600 and up per person. q dish.ae

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PERSONAL TRAINING The going rate for an exercise expert to yell at, sorry, encourage you, is Dhs300 an hour, but ‘rich and famous’ fitness fans are going crazy for surly New Yorker Amir Siddiqui, the owner of Symmetry Gym, who charges a whopping Dhs750 for 6o minutes of his time. Appropriately located in Dubai’s Gold and Diamond Park, the gym holds PT sessions, with a start-up fee of Dhs1,500 and promises money back if you’re not satisfied after a month. He’s a confident chap, that Amir, although after seeing his huge bulk we wouldn’t fancy your chances if you did want to complain. q symmetrygymdubai.com

BEACH CLUB MEMBERSHIP Day access to a pool and beach is for plebians. VIPs need annual memberships to the best sandy spots in Dubai. Enter Four Season Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach. For many, the annual single beach club membership price (a whopping Dhs57,500) is enough to make your eyes water. For that you get priority booking, 20 per cent off spa treatments, PTs sessions, restaurant reservations and dry cleaning services. Got a family? That’ll be Dhs99,300, thanks. q fourseasons.com/dubaijb/services-andamenities/fitness/memberships 34_What’s On


Amir Siddiqui

Exclusivity: something that rich folk all over the world chase. It’s not enough to go to the city’s coolest and newest bars; they need somewhere that gives them, an edge, a place that they feel at home and can call their own. Thankfully, The Arts Club in DIFC provides. Everything about this place is luxurious and exclusive and it’s a hubbub of activity for anyone from the arts world looking for a place to eat, drink, chat and dance. Want in? Pay a Dhs15,750 joining fee, then Dhs15,750 annually thereafter. Easy. q theartsclub.ae


How to spend the equivalent of your monthly/ annual grocery budget in a weekend…

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Ice cream at Scoopi Café It wouldn’t be Dubai without a little gold, and Scoopi’s pricey dessert is packed with it. The black diamond ice cream proudly claims to be the most expensive dessert in Dubai, made with Madagascan ice cream, Iraninan saffron, rare Italian black truffle and 23 carat gold. Served in the most extra gold plated bowl you’ve ever seen (which you can keep). a Jumeirah Beach Road. Tel: (050) 113 8497. scoopicafe.com

Caviar sushi at Netsu

Steak at Nusr-et


Dh ice tag s2, : 999

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For a cool Dhs1,250, you can feast ,25 0 on 400 grams of golden sirloin at Nusr-et’s infamous Dubai restaurant. Many have tried it, but usually it’s those famous faces (e.g. famous footballers, actors and reality stars). a Four Seasons, Jumeirah. Tel: (0) 44074100. nusr-et.com

Every meal should start with a bite of caviar, are we right? At Netsu by Ross Shonshan in the Mandarin Oriental, stop by two bite-sized pieces of Oscietra Russian caviar topped with nori crisp and fresh wasabi for a mere Dhs600. a Mandarin Oriental, Jumeirah. Tel: (0)47772232. @netsudubai

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Caviar at Ossiano It’s no surprise that this luxurious Atlantis restaurant comes top on our most expensive list. While most of the dishes on the menu cost more than a monthly food shop, the royal beluga caviar is the one at the top of the list, coming in at Dhs4,959 for a 50g portion. Chances are you’ll need more than that to fill you up for dinner, so for a full meal you’re looking at dropping the cost of a five-star holiday. a Atlantis the Palm, Palm Jumeirah. Tel: (04) 426 2626. atlantisthepalm.com

Set menu at Hoseki

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Intimate nine-seater restaurant, Hoseki, has limited menu options. The Ruri menu consists of an appetiser, sashimi, grilled fish, sushi, miso soup and an omelette, all for the grand total of Dhs1,400. a Bulgari Resort Dubai, Jumeirah Bay Island. Tel: (0)4777 5433. bulgarihotels.com What’s On_35

For reservations, please call +971 4 275 2555 or email reservations@ilborrotuscanbistro.ae

EAT + DRINK + SHOP RATING FOOD A+ to CVIBE Family Friendly Party Casual Romantic Fancy PRICE (FOR TWO) Up to Dhs249 Dhs250 to Dhs749 Dhs750+

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Oodles of noodles

Why you’ll want to dine at Goldfish this month SONARA p38 LOLA TABERNA p40 CZNBURAK p41 What’s On_37




A desert safari but with gourmet cuisine. Why this is the best desert experience we’ve ever been to ubai desert experiences are normally reserved as something to fill the time while you have visitors over. They usually involve a bit of dune bashing, followed by basic henna art and a belly dancing performance while you fight your way to the buffet table. Sonara Camp offers none of these things, but in our opinion, this ultimately makes it the best Dubai desert experience. Upon arrival at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, we park up and switch over to a 4×4, where our driver takes us softly over the dunes toward the campsite. The camp is stunning, especially as we arrive just before sunset, with Instagrammable opportunities everywhere you look. The upper level has a large round bar, where people can order drinks and shisha, as well individual areas for groups or intimate parties to sit on bean bags and sofas to relax on before dinner. Activity stations are set up around the camp, in case you wish to get involved. There’s everything from volleyball and archery to sand boarding, an interactive falcon show, and camel riding at your own leisure. Otherwise, you can grab a hammock and enjoy the stunning sunset beyond the dunes. Dinner takes place on a lower level, under a marquee of fairy lights, as Mykonos-style beats reverberate around the desert. An impressive fire show kicks off a little later, with an exciting finale that we’ll keep as a surprise. Onto the food. Well, the meal is more like something you’d find in a five-star hotel than a desert camp. With proper


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plates and cutlery and not a plastic cup in sight, we sit down and are treated to three incredible courses from the new-season sharing menu. Starters arrive in many creative forms. For example the sea bream Tahitian ceviche comes in a tiny crispy cone topped with an avocado puree and offers two juicy mouthfuls with perfectly blended flavours. We can’t fault the pulled lamb shoulder with ras el hanout, which Chef tells us he created while at home during lockdown. We embark on a DIY process reminiscent of duck pancakes, only this version uses

slow-cooked pulled lamb that instantly melts in the mouth. Black Angus picanha arrives sizzling on the grill, and is cooked beautifully along with a refreshing side dish of rocket chimichurri. Thankfully, the dessert is lovely and light, with a fresh fruit salad, and indulgent bitesized pie with chocolate ganache topping. While Sonara Camp is by no means the cheapest desert camp out there, it’s the most memorable. If you’re a regular bruncher, consider swapping out a couple of them for a night under the stars with good friends, great food and a brilliant overall experience. a Sonara Camp, Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Dinner and Sunset experience from Dhs860 adults or Dhs380 children. nara.ae/sonara RATING Food ���������������������������������������������������������������� A Atmosphere ������������������������������������������������ Price ���������������������������������������������������


It’s carnival time at Amazonico, the uber-hip restaurant in DIFC, which launches its Tropicália Friday brunch from February 12. You’ll find a tropical sushi station, unlimited hot and cold appetisers, a choice of mains, caipirinhas and more. At Dhs650 with house drinks, it’s one of the pricier options in town. Is it worth the price tag? Check out our review on WhatsOn.ae. Gate Village, Pavillion DIFC, Fri 1pm to 4pm, Dhs450 with soft drinks, Dhs650 with house drinks, Dhs750 with champagne. Tel: (0)4 5713999. @amazonicodubai C O N S U M E



Chef Akmal Anuar is back at the pans… ans of 3Fils in Jumeirah Fishing Harbour have been waiting to see where chef Akmal Anuar popped up next. Not too far away, as it turns out. The modern Asian master has stepped up to the pass at Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori, a sleek new eatery in the Galeria Mall, Al Safa. And it seems like half of Dubai was awaiting his next move. Within a week of opening, diners are jockeying for a table within the industrial-chic space. tables, instead entrusting the kitchen to Goldfish’s Japanese menu doesn’t give apply the right amount of seasoning. much away, with the handful of Akmal does just that to a pair of appetisers, sushi, yakitori and chutoro nigiri (Dhs70), with a carbs referenced by just one delicate swipe of soy across or two words. Fortunately, the rose-pink tuna. the attentive waitstaff are From the yakitori grill, happy to talk us through we’re steered towards the the combinations. tsukune (Dhs20), a plump, To start, we order a smoky chicken meatball sashimi dish simply labelled that we swipe through a ‘salmon – orange’ (Dhs55). Akmal Anuar soupy onsen egg. For a final The thin slices of impeccably savoury course, we order spicy fresh fish are dressed in a light noodles with shrimp (Dhs40), which citrus-soy, garnished with orange wedges, deliver the umami buzz of Indomie, with torn shiso leaves, shichimi pepper, and none of the MSG hangover. crunchy curls of fried salmon skin. For those who follow Akmal on In proper Japanese fashion, Goldfish Instagram, you’ll have seen him perfecting has eschewed bottles of soy sauce on the


his chocolate-peanut tart during lockdown. That quest for perfection is evident here, with a rich chocolatey base and salty-sweet filling offset by a quenelle of choc-orange ice cream. Gauging by the quality of this meal, the tart isn’t the only thing Akmal was perfecting… And if that’s the only silver lining to the madness of 2020, we’ll take it. a Galeria Mall, 403 Al Wasl Rd, Al Safa, daily noon to midnight. Tel: (04) 8864966. @goldfishdubai RATING Food ���������������������������������������������������������������� A Atmosphere ���������������������������������������������������� Price ���������������������������������������������������������

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A real slice of relaxed Spanish taberna life in Dubai ola amigos. Don’t be intimidated by our fluent Spanish, we just wanted to whet your appetite for news of a very exciting Spanish restaurant that’s opened in Tecom (Barsha Heights). Lola Taberna (named after the country’s most famous Flamenco dancer), is a sweet neighbourhood eatery that opened at the tail-end of last year, having replaced Barbary in the Tryp by Wyndham. The main dining area is accented with wooden shutters while a large painting of Lola adorns one wall as proper ham hunks hang on the other. It’s a first for the city to be able to display this in prime view, and certainly adds to the authenticity. The focus here is on serving simple, genuine tapas that should satisfy any and all cravings for crispy burnt rice, sangria, and ham that tastes like acorns. Large green olives, a plate of glistening slivers of Montaraz jamon (Dhs89), four perfectly plump Iberico croquettes (Dhs57), and a basket of bread were delicious nibbles with a cold glass of vermouth.


The tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette, Dhs49) was the epitome of comfort food par excellence, transforming a couple of humble ingredients (potatoes, eggs, olive oil) into a dish fit for Lola herself. Part warm and gooey, part fluffy and crisp – this would make a perfect breakfast on its own, but a worthy tapas addition, too. Hankering for more, we ordered a paella. There are several versions to choose from (chicken, seafood, shellfree, and negra). We opted for the negra (Dhs169), a black paella with baby squid and licks of aioli. It arrived in a large skillet and required some elbow grease to scrape the sticky rice from the bottom of the pan, which is always tell-tale sign of a good paella.

Finally, a plate of churros was brought out with a cup full of rich chocolate sauce. Taste-wise it’s all there: golden, crispy, chewy things of deliciousness, but they don’t look like the real deal to us. We’re used to the ones that are piped through a star-shaped funnel tip, while these seem more like a plumper cousin. But we don’t want to obsess about this too much, because the food really is as good as it gets for tapas. Go now, then sit back with another chilled vermouth, and buen provecho. a Tryp by Wyndham, Barsha Height, Sun to Thur 5pm to 1am, Fri and Sat 1pm to 2am. Tel: (0)4 2476688. @lolataberna RATING Food ���������������������������������������������������������������AAtmosphere ������������������������������������������������ Price ���������������������������������������������������������

Chinese New Year at Shanghai ME Dragon dance, drummers and a curated menu On Thursday 11 February, Shanghai Me welcomes the Year of the Ox with live entertainment (Covid restrictions permitting), blessings and tradition. Expect a curated menu of special dishes, including dim sum, noodles, seafood, and the now famous Shanghai Me Fortune Cookie as a dragon dance adds dramatic flair. a Podium Level, Gate Village 11, DIFC, Thur Feb 11, noon to 11pm. Tel: (0) 4 5640505. @shangaimedxb

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Is CZNBurak’s popularity just a flash in the pan? e’s been known to stop traffic when he walks around Downtown Dubai, and to create the kind of weak-atthe-knees hysteria usually reserved for rock stars. And yet, if you’d asked us who CZNBurak was two months ago, we would have said: Not a clue. We may well have been in the minority… At the time we went to print, Burak Özdemir, who goes by the moniker CZNBurak, had 20 million followers on Instagram and 33 million on TikTok. He’s known for his slightly madcap cooking videos in which he smiles directly down the camera lens while chopping 30 onions and whipping up massive Turkish feasts. It makes sense that CZNBurak chose Dubai for his first foray outside Turkey. We can’t think of anywhere else that would reward the audacity of building a 600-seat restaurant in the heart of Downtown, and installing the largest oven in the GCC. It’s a


bold move that, initially at least, appears to be paying off. In the opening week over Christmas, CZNBurak instantly became the place to dine in Dubai. HH Sheikh Hamdan and Cristiano Ronaldo were snapped posing with the chef, and its no-bookings policy saw queues snake around the block, as people clambered to witness CZNBurak’s particular brand of culinary theatre. For this is no simple a la carte experience – dining here is about appearances as much as taste, with dishes designed for maximum Instagram impact. Meats are dipped into flaming vats of oil, fiery mounds of salt are tossed into the air, and clay urns are ceremoniously cracked open to reveal steaming casseroles. The Turkish menu rewards larger groups, with the most interesting-sounding dishes designed for four or more people. We settle on a couple of cold mezze to start, including eggplant shakshuka (Dhs37) and baba ghannouge (Dhs35), which get tastier the longer they sit out of the fridge. The fried icli kofte (Dhs13 per piece) are one of the night’s best morsels, the Turkish kibbeh flavoured with red pepper paste and toasted walnuts.

The mixed grill for one (Dhs104) is a familiar, satisfying assembly of minced meat kebab, shish tawouk and cubed beef that’s easily shared between two. We also try lamb shanks on a bed of spiced rice (Dhs245), and while the meat is perfectly fork-tender, the flavour is fairly subdued. Desserts are stock-standard renditions of kunafa (Dhs55) and baklawa (Dhs65) – the standout for us being the stretchy dondurma-style ice cream that accompanies the baklava. CZNBurak is unlicensed, so the strongest thing you’re going to drink is the thick Turkish coffee. There is shisha, however, and some cracking views of the Burj Khalifa from the terrace. And, if entertainment and celeb cred are high on your dining agenda, you’re in the right place. Whether that will be enough in the fickle Dubai dining world remains to be seen. a Boulevard Point, Downtown Dubai, open daily 12pm to 3am. Tel: (0)58 108 1800. @cznburakdubai Burak Özdemir

RATING Food �������������������������������������������������������������� BAtmosphere ���������������������������������������������������� Price ��������������������������������������������������������

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What’s cooking?

Dubai’s aspiring chefs can brush up on their culinary skills at the Chef’s Palette cooking studio


n a city obsessed with food, Chef ’s Palette cooking studio in Fairmont The Palm puts a unique spin on the dining experience, offering a collection of immersive, interactive sessions. The menu of master classes ranges from an introduction to basic culinary techniques, through to seasonal menus and dinner party entertaining, 42_What’s On

with chefs from Fairmont The Palm’s kitchen team providing expert hands-on support and access to top-of-the-line equipment and appliances. There’s a choice of cooking classes on offer. The twohour Premium Cooking Class (Dhs395 per person) includes hands-on cooking fun with a chef, branded apron, water and soft drinks, take-home

recipe card and a certificate of attendance. Meanwhile, the four-hour Master Class (Dhs555 per person) focuses on specialist produce such as foie gras, Wagyu beef, forested mushrooms, and chocolate, plus all of the other benefits including your branded apron. For the little chefs, there are dedicated ‘no adults allowed’ sessions (Dhs250 per class)

at the studio. They’ll learn about nutrition, international cuisine, and will also be allowed to have some messy fun in the kitchen with their pals. And yes, kids, you get to eat your masterpiece – and more importantly, lick the spoon. a Fairmont The Palm, Dubai, Tel:(0)4 4573457 or email palm.dining@fairmont.com



A step-up from the beginner’s classes, the Culinary Art class promises a gourmet menu and culinary flair. You’ll be handed the lofty goals of pumping out a three-course menu – full of concepts we can’t pronounce – in twoand-a-half-hours. On our trip, we made mushroom veloute with truffle essence, foie gras and croutons. For mains, a ricotta tortellini, and an apple tatin for dessert. Everything here is made by hand. a Villa 196, Beach Road, Dubai, Dhs475, Tel: (04) 3855781. topchefdubai.com


Predominantly a quaint little cafe in the heart of Jumeira, Culinary Boutique offers a range of cake creations and light bites. But it also has over 100 culinary courses for you to try. They’re masters of cuisines from across the world, from Japan, Thailand, Italy or the Middle East. a Villa 56, Jumeira 1, Dubai. Tel: (0)4 345 0023. culinaryboutique.com




The School of Culinary and Finishing Arts or SCAFA as its known, takes a more serious approach to cooking classes, with a school dedicated to the skill. It has both professional and amateur programmes, so there’s no reason to feel intimidated by the idea of a ‘school’. Amateur programmes include fundamentals of cuisine, mini master chef, world cuisine and cake decorating – so you’re bound to find something to try your hand at. a Unit 16, Promenade Level, Cluster I, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Near Almas Tower, Dubai. Tel: (0)4 379 4044. facebook.com/scafa.dubai

Join bubbly chef Lama Jammal Houssami for hands-on cooking classes in a beautifully-designed dedicated kitchen space. Book it for parties, couple workshops, or for nannies and housekeepers, and learn how to make simple but healthy and delicious meals for your family. q instagram.com/ mamalukitchen

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STEVEN NGUYEN Head chef at Indochine A family friend suggested that I should be a chef. It was 2008, I had just graduated and my first sales job was making me miserable. I had always cooked at home for family and was fascinated with cooking. After our conversation, I immediately enrolled in culinary school. I definitely felt pressure when I joined Indochine Dubai. The brand has such a legacy. But I tried not to think about its past, as we were very much focused on building something new that could stand on its own. Indochine is such a fun arena where we get to create. There are endless possibilities of where we can take Vietnamese food to. There are some exciting homegrown initiatives here. Dubai should really focus on these, because they will shape the city’s identity. The advice a chef gave to me was a quote from DaVinci: ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’. As I get older, I just want to strip away the frills and just get down to what makes food deeply delicious. I’ve been obsessing over duck. I want to know how to get crispy skin and perfectly cooked meat. I’ve used maltose; I’ve hang dried it for 14 days; and I’ve tried blowing air into it to separate the skin. So before I die, I just want that perfect piece of Peking duck. a Gate Precinct Building 3, DIFC, daily noon to 10pm (closed for lunch Fri and Sat). Tel: (0) 4289333. @indochinedxb

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LookUp Rooftop Bar Intimate, relaxed vibes at the FridayFeels brunch Most poolside brunches are rowdy affairs, with larger than life characters, loud beats, and maybe even the odd roaming saxophonist. If you fancy something a little more subdued for your Friday pool and brunch session, try the new FridayFeels brunch at LookUp Rooftop Bar in City Walk. The sun-dappled terrace and pool at La Ville Hotel & Suites is small but intimate. It also has a surprisingly incredible view of the Burj Khalifa, making us feel like we’re in on a well-kept secret. Following some refreshing rum ice lollies on arrival, starters comprise salmon sushi, tuna ribbons and Vietnamese lobster spring rolls, but we love the softly whipped goats cheese mousse, served with moreish parmesan straws. Mains are hit and miss, with some more adventurous pairings falling short. Broccoli and preserved lemon on a pizza as a combo didn’t work for us, though we thoroughly enjoyed the pepperoni pizzetta. The beef and short rib donuts are another head-scratcher. The beef filling is tender and the truffle sauce

delightful, but an extra donut seems a bit over the top. We hit that sweet spot with cute bite-sized chocolate fondants and lemon meringues, which are equal parts crunchy and gooey. With a chilled music setting the tone and an extensive drinks menu on hand, it’s a Friday wellspent in our book. And that sunset really is beautiful. a LookUp Rooftop Bar, La Ville Hotel & Suites, City Walk, Fri 2pm to 6pm, Dhs350 including pool access, food and house drinks. Tel: (0)4 403 3111. @lavilledubai

ABOUT CAFÉ DÉLICES Fresh ingredients, smoking hot grills, coffee lovers culture, variety of hubble bubble, delectable flavours and fantastic views in one of the best cafes in Business Bay. Featuring an indoor and outdoor seating with free WiFi, it is perfect for a hangout with friends, spending quality time for a family day out or even if you feel like switching up your work space away from the office, Café Delices is your go-to hot spot in town. Discover a range of lip-smacking Bahraini and Turkish flavours paired with cold creative beverages or a choice of your favourite caffeine as you soak in the fantastic panoramic views of the Dubai Water Canal.

Al Abraj Street, Business Bay P.O Box 32300, Dubai UAE Tel: +971 4 247 3333 Email: info@gulfcourthotelbusinessbay.com gulfcourthotelbusinessbay.com #GULFCOURTHOTELDXB




PAUL BRIAN DUMPA Bartender at Mood Rooftop Lounge My first bartending job was in a small pub near my hometown in the Philippines. I was very excited because I got to mix drinks for customers and to also learn some skills that I have perfected and still use today. A perfect bar is all about ambiance. A bar is where friends, colleagues and even business partners go and meet to relax and enjoy, so a bar must create the best ambiance for customers and its employees must love what they do. Being a bartender has taught me to be hard working. It’s built my confidence up. I love it when customers appreciate the drinks that I have created for them. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction, which motivates me to excel. My favourite bartending gadget? Easy, the Boston Shaker. My favourite cocktail to serve is Footloose. It’s Japanese whisky, apricot brandy and Aperol, which is one of our signature cocktails at Mood Rooftop Lounge. It’s an amazing drink and also easy to make. The most overrated cocktail is the Old Fashioned. It’s a very simple cocktail to make but most bartenders don’t do it right. Which celebrity would I most love to serve at Mood? Robert de Niro. a Meydan Hotel, Nad Al Sheba, daily 7pm to 3am. Tel: (054) 400227. @moodrooftopdubai

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Soho Beer Garden

Over a dozen drafts on tap, and 60 bottled beers – finally a legit beer garden is here At first blush, Soho Beer Garden might seem like one of those Instagram-bait bars that have become ubiquitous over the past few years. But beyond the retro lamp lights and wooden swing benches, there are legitimately great things happening here, particularly in terms of the beer selection. The suds are as ample as the patio space: 13 draft lines and more than 60 bottled beers, ciders and speciality brews like Laguinitas, Brooklyn IPA, Hobgoblin, and Delirium Tremens all grace the menu. The backyard is large enough that there’s a strong chance you’ll actually be able to grab a seat without having to jostle for space. The food menu also elevates typical beer-garden fare. There are two enormous menus to look through: the one specifically for Soho Beer Garden, and another from Foxglove restaurant, which is the new indoor space right next to the beer garden. Highlights from the Beer Garden menu include wood

fired pizzas (from Dhs60), the sausage selection, which features veal bratwurst (Dhs75), and beef chorizo (Dhs75), among others. German pretzels (Dhs55), poutine (Dhs55) and chicken sausage rolls (Dhs55) top the bar snacks. We particularly liked the wood-fired Margherita, which was slightly smaller than most pizzas around town, but arrived with a deliciously charred crust. Time your trip right to Soho Beer Garden and you might catch one of its live music sessions. Once the Covid restrictions ease, Monday nights will see resident band Talk of The Town perform at the Garden’s huge stage while you tuck into the burger and pint deal for Dhs99. On Wednesdays it’s ‘80s and ‘90s music, and there’s a brand new Friday brunch from 1pm to 5pm for only Dhs299 with food, beer garden games and more. Well worth a visit any night, we think. a Soho Beer Garden, Soho Garden Dubai, Meydan, daily 12pm to 3am. @sohogardendxb

Fridays & Saturdays, 1pm - 4pm AED395 includes soft beverages AED495 includes house beverages AED595 includes premium Italian sparkling Alici on Bluewaters Island is breezing onto Dubai’s brunch scene with a distinct weekend brunch experience. The acclaimed seafood restaurant offers Beautiful Brunch on Friday and Saturday featuring a specially-curated à la carte menu as well as a crudo (raw seafood), antipasti (starters), grilled meats, main courses, desserts, Italian grapes and more.

For reservations, please call +971 4 275 2577 or email reservations@alici.com

Thalassa © France 3/Thalassa - Bulle © RTS - Les pays d’en haut © Société Radio Canada - 100 ans à table © Coco.TV Créations Inc. - Gaspard va au mariage © 2017 Agat Films & Cie/ Artemis Productions - Quelle Histoire © TV5MONDE / Quelle Histoire Éditions 2019 - Maghreb-Orient Express © TV5MONDE - Sauf le respect que je vous dois © Christophe Henry/Le Bureau - Championnat du monde d’endurance WEC © FIA WEC 2019 - Molinard, comme un parfumeur en France © Esperanza productions

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PA G E 56

Learn from the best

The Xposure International Photography Festival returns EMIRATES AIRLINE FESTIVAL OF LITERATURE p54

THE AGENDA Our pick of the top art-related events this month around the UAE

For more cultural plans happening in the UAE, visit whatson.ae


Take a tour of Qasr Al Muwaiji Qasr Al Muwaiji is an impressive structure and a key component of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Al Ain. The iconic North-West Tower is open to visitors and provides a glimpse into the childhood home and life of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, President of the UAE. Throughout February a Qasr Al Muwaiji, Khalifa Bin Zayed Street, Al Muwaiji, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Thur 10am to 6pm, Fri 2pm to 6pm. Tel: (0)3 767 4444. qasralmuwaiji.ae 50_What’s On


Float: Stephanie Comilang Float presents two films by Berlin-based Stephanie Comilang that narrate overseas Filipino workers’ lives. Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso (Come to Me, Paradise) follows domestic workers on their day off narrated by a drone named Paraiso. The second film is Comilang’s Diaspora Ad Astra, which tells

the story of the plight of Filipino seafarers quarantined offshore due to the pandemic and unable to communicate with their families, tantalisingly close but ultimately unable to return home. Throughout February a Warehouse421, Mina Zayed, Abu Dhabi, Tue to Sun 10am to 8pm, closed Mon. Tel: (0)2 676 8803. warehouse421.ae



The World Is Too Much With Us Named after a famous William Wordsworth poem, this exhibition brings together six artists who express concerns for our planet and our collective consciousness. These artists champion the natural world, speak out against climate change and call for activism. The show is curated by independent art writer and curator Anna Seaman. From Feb 22 to March 7 a La Galerie, Alliance Francaise, Sun to Weds, 9am to 8pm, Thur and Fri 9am to 5pm. Tel: (0)4 335 8712 afdubai.org


Tabari Artspace Iranian artist Peyman Shaafi’s exhibition, ‘Presence of The Future’, spans pen and ink sketches and three-dimensional canvases to investigate the relationships shared between geometry, astrology and materiality. Using patterns and structures of strict mathematical precision, the artist proposes a sense of order and positivity away from chaotic reality. Until February 18 a Tabari Artspace, Gate Village, Building 3, DIFC, Dubai, Tel: (0)4) 323 0820. tabariartspace.com


Short+Sweet Dubai Now in it’s ninth edition, the Short+Sweet festival is over-flowing with local talent of all ages who will be performing 10-minute plays for a spot in the spectacular finals as voted for by the judges and the audience members. The 125 short (and exciting) plays take place at The Junction at Alserkal Avenue until March 20 during the weekends. Short+Sweet Dubai, The Junction, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, ticket prices start from Dhs100. Tel: (0)4 338 8525. @shortnsweetdxb @junctiondubai

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Not so great Britain The history of the UK – told with farts, wigs and laughter


ased on the hit books by Terry Deary, Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain tells the story of 2,000 years of British history. Neal Foster (right) is the show’s production manager, and plays Queen Victoria and Guy Fawkes. It comes to Dubai in February. How much of Barmy Britain is entertainment, and how much is education? We always want to make our shows really entertaining, and for our audience to learn the facts by accident. I was taught by John Cleese that the best way to make someone understand something is to make them laugh, because you can only find something funny if you know what’s going on. How exactly have you guys managed to make history fun? Are there farts? [Laughs] Oh, our secret weapons are the marvelous sound effects created by our sound designer Nick Sagar and together we have created one of the longest farts in theatre history. We have

yet to win an award for this fart effect but I’m sure they’ll come soon enough. We also have fabulous songs, a lot of audience participation and as many jokes as we can squeeze into the hour-long show. What’s the storyline involving one of your characters Guy Fawkes? We meet Guy Fawkes on the famous television programme, Who Wants To Blow Up Parliament, where he has to answer three questions to win the chance to kill everyone inside and outside the building. The audience get involved in helping Guy choose the right answers and it’s a nail biting ending. What’s your favourite one-liner from the show? My favourite scene is about the murderers Burke and Hare who ran a hotel in Edinburgh and started killing their guests. They sold the dead bodies to a local surgeon so he could practice on them. It’s always fun playing a charming psychopath and they don’t get more deliciously dangerous than Burke and Hare.

What do you remember about your history lessons at school? I had a fabulous teacher of European history and a devastatingly boring teacher of British history. So it amazes me to think we’ve enjoyed so much success from Barmy Britain, when I found British history so boring at school. It’s astonishing just how much effect a good teacher can have on a pupil’s life. What have you learnt about British history from doing Barmy Britain? I’ve learnt that it’s impossible to say history is boring when you come face to face with some of the most surprising people ever to inhabit the country. When people say they find history is boring, what they mean is they find people boring, because history is the stories of the people who have populated Britain since the dawn of time. And there are an awful lot of fascinating people to meet.

February 12 to 14 a Theatre by QE2, Fri to Sun 1pm, Dhs120, Tel: (0)4 5268888. theatrebyqe2.com

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Write on

For book lovers, spring can mean only one thing: the Emirates Airline Festival Of Literature. The celebration of the written word returns with author talks and workshops ACTIVIST ICON

Malala Yousafzai

Inspiring activist and author, Malala Yousafzai, will be at the festival telling the audience about her story, her mission and her vision for the future. Malala was just 17 when she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. This year, she completed her philosophy, politics and economics three-year degree at the University of Oxford. Malala even launched a book club called Fearless this year thinking about the millions of girls who are at the risk of losing their education due to the pandemic. The books have been curated by Malala herself.

BEHAVE YOURSELF Human behaviour is complex and when people do things that seem to you irrational it can be tempting to believe you are surrounded by Thomas Erikson idiots. But what Thomas Erikson’s book, which has sold more than three million copies, leads us to understand is that we always feel like this around certain types of people because we are all wired differently, and the sooner we understand someone’s pattern of behaviour, the sooner you’ll achieve successful communication. 54_What’s On

In 2012, when she was just 15, Malala was the target of an assassination attempt for fighting for the rights for girls to receive an education in her native Pakistan. She continues to advocate for the 130 million girls around the world who aren’t in school.

Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who has supported Malala from the start, will also be at the literature festival speaking about his determination to ensure girls attain a better life by receiving an education, despite those violently trying to prevent it. He is the co-founder and chairman of the Malala Fund that champions girls’ rights to education all over the world. WHERE TO HEAR HER: February 6, 5pm to 6pm at InterContinental Dubai, Festival City. Event number 63. Tickets start at Dhs60. emirateslitfest.com





Very goaloriented and competitive. Achieving results is their number one game. They have no problem with ‘telling the truth’. Some people might describe them as bullish or even aggressive.

Open, happy, positive, and see opportunities where others see problems. They enjoy life and are always looking for a good time. Others might see them as too talkative and as not taking things seriously.

Friendly, calm, and sharing. The best listeners. They will always take care of others and strive for good team co-operation. Others, mostly reds and yellows, see them as imprecise and too conflictavert.

Detail-oriented, and need a lot of facts and proof in dealing with any topic. They strive for perfection and high quality. Some people consider them too dry, stonefaced, always stuck in their excel sheets.

WHERE TO HEAR HIM: February 5, 12.30pm to 1.30pm at InterContinental Dubai, Festival City. Event number 24. Tickets start at Dhs60. emirateslitfest.com

LOTS OF LOVE London-based writer Bolu Babalola is a self-proclaimed “lover of love”. At just 30 years old, her impressive resume includes penning TV and film scripts, and refers to herself as a romcomoisseur. It makes sense, then, that her literary debut, Love In Colour, is an anthology of brilliantly and beautifully reimagined love stories from history and mythology – including Greek legends, Nigerian folk tales and ancient stories from South Asia.

On being taught love by her parents: My parents have a really deep friendship. They met when they were young. They were romantic but mostly they built a solid friendship comprising of open communication. They are partners and support each other as a team, but mainly their friendship and humour has driven it.

On her notion of what love is: It’s somebody who really sees you and wants to be with you, support and empower you. I read a quote somewhere that described love as friendship on fire. It’s a connection that is really visceral, spiritual and empowering.

Bolu Babalola

On being a hopeful romantic: I’m not a hopeless romantic, I’m more of a hopeful and pragmatic romantic. I’m really Nigerian and progressive in so many ways. I want a man to cherish me and be in awe of me, and also be empowered by my power.

WHERE TO HEAR HER: February 5, 12.30pm to 1.30pm at InterContinental Dubai, Festival City. Event number 25. Tickets start at Dhs60. Book your spot via emirateslitfest.com

Other literary greats to watch out for include awardwinning novelist and women’s rights activist Elif Shafak, and Lebanese-born French novelist Amin Maalouf.


Virtually: Psychologist, philosopher, sailor and navigator David Barrie will be joining the festival hosting an educational session with Major Ali al Suwaidi – the UAE’s last pearl diver.

The coming festival will be spread across three weekends with talks and sessions taking place at three fantastic venues, with some activities and exhibitions remaining open during the week: Jameel Arts Centre: Art meets literature for a fun weekend packed with workshops and talks suitable for all ages. January 29 and 30 InterContinental Dubai, Festival City: The Festival returns home for three days filled with talks, workshops, and live performances. February 4 to 6 Alserkal Avenue: A community celebration of film, food, creativity and all the good things that stem from literature. February 12 and 13

a Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, various locations across Dubai, from January 29 to February 13, 2021

(weekends), Dhs60 adults, Dhs40 for children, Dhs100 for the virtual pass. emirateslitfest.com

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Capture that

Four days of exhibitions, demos, and workshops from a stellar line-up of photographers are set to take place at Xposure International Photography Festival 2021 this month. We get the lowdown on some of the stars… PHOTOGRAPHY

Aaron Gekoski How would you categorise your work? I’m an environmental photojournalist. I investigate the impact that mankind is having on our planet. Our wildlife is in turmoil. As photographers we have an opportunity to broadcast the truth. How did you get into photography? I left behind the corporate world a decade ago to study wildlife photography in Africa. My goal was the document the natural world. However, I soon saw that

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wildlife was under threat. Documenting these stories became my focus. What are you driven by? Exposing cruelty and

suffering, and creating change. There is nothing more satisfying as a photojournalist than having a tangible impact. What has been the proudest moment in your career? Holding the first copy of Animosity, my new book, and being a winner at Wildlife Photographer of the Year are highlights, but the smaller victories are just as important. Shark finning communities in Mozambique stopped eating toxic shark meat as a result of a documentary I worked on. I’m proud of that.

What’s the most inspiring photograph you’ve seen? Brent Stirton’s image of a murdered gorilla in Conga helped to inspire a generation of conservationists. The fact that one image can do so much for a cause should be a source of inspiration to us all. What advice would you give to aspiring photographers? Absorb, never stop learning. Volunteer. Persevere. Don’t get too hung up on gear; it’s the storytelling that matters. Enter competitions. Be creative and prepare to break the rules.

Brent Stirton How do you feel about participating in Xposure 2021? I’m grateful to be asked. It’s a good festival and an opportunity to see people I haven’t seen for a while. We are very well treated there and that’s always very nice. Anytime a credible festival wants to show my work, I’m grateful.

How would you categorise your work? I spend most of my time focused on the intersection between man and the environment. How did you get into photography? I was a journalist and I needed to illustrate my work. I couldn’t find a photographer to work with so I bought a used camera and taught myself. What are you driven by? I’m driven by the need to support the good work being done by so many of the people I meet. Most of them are fighting huge odds and I have found I can make a difference in that fight if I commit to good photography on that theme. What has been the proudest moment in your career?

Being voted National Geographic Magazine’s Photographer’s Photographer in 2015. What kind of photography do you get the most pleasure from? If I am able to make images that move people, that create an emotional response, that is always the best for me. What’s the most inspiring photograph you’ve seen? James Nachtwey’s image from the Rwandan genocide of the Tutsi victim in profile with scars on his face is right up there for me. What advice would you give to aspiring photographers? Hard work and discipline will take you further than just talent alone.



Elia Locardi How do you feel about participating in Xposure 2021? There has never been an event quite like this that is able to bring so many talented artists together in one place. Xposure focuses on the work, on the stories, and on the people who are out there helping to amplify the voices of others. How would you categorise your work? Though my work easily falls under the umbrella of travel photography, it’s more destination based. I’m drawn to the unique, the breathtaking, the places that have the power to inspire all of us. How did you get into photography? Through a series of difficult years in the US economic crash of 2008, my wife and I had an important decision to make. How do we rebuild our lives? After soul-searching, we decided to prioritise experiences instead of professions. Neither of us had ever really travelled before. I knew that if we were going to travel, I most definitely wanted to take photos along the way. It all grew from there. What are you driven by? The desire for knowledge,

evolution, and growth – that’s the foundation of what continues to drive me forward. And coffee. What has been the proudest moment in your career? August, 2019, when my daughter Liana was born. When my wife Naomi and I started on this photography adventure in 2009, we didn’t have any resources behind us. For five years, we abandoned the idea of home and instead embraced a more non-traditional approach to life. That all came full circle when we wanted children. This seems like an odd career milestone but it taught me something so important. Life

KM Asad What inspired you to take up photojournalism, in particular humanity and social rights? In 2007, Bangladesh was hit by Cyclone Sidr. I went directly to the affected places to report about the tragic situation and the difficult conditions of the local people. These pictures were published in local newspapers and hundreds of people received humanitarian aid. I realised that some people have been helped because

can evolve to accommodate what is most important to you. It doesn’t have to be one way or the other. For us, that means it doesn’t have to be either children or travel, home or no-home, career or family. It can be a harmony of everything as long as you try.

of my work. That’s when I realised it was my duty. Do you remember the first ever photograph you captured? I was 18 years old and my father gave me a film camera. The Yashica MF-2. I was so excited to take pictures. My first ever picture was my father and mother pictured together. You won the “UNICEF photo of the year” in 2017 and the Siena International Photographer of the Year 2018. How important are these accolades to you?

What advice would you give to aspiring photographers? The most important thing is to have fun. Loosen up, experiment, make mistakes. The best photographer out there is the one who is having the most fun.

As a photographer, yes, I feel honored to get these awards. Through these photo competitions. I show my important work to many audiences in the world. What advice would you give to aspiring photographers? You have to be able to be at the right moment at the right place. I try to put myself in the middle of the situation to capture the most authentic and real moments possible – that would be my advice to any aspiring photographer.

February 10 to 13 a Xposure Photography & Film Festival, Al Taawun Street, Sharjah, Wed 9am to Sat 10pm, free entry. xposure.ae

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One of the most important books of this year, Sons of Abraham offers a candid look at the issues that frequently unite Jews and Muslims. AVA I L A B L E I N A L L M A J O R B O O K S T O R E S A N D AT B O O K S A R A B I A . C O M


w w w.motivatemedia.com




PA G E 64

Heal me

A guide to alternative therapies in Dubai ARENA GAMES p62 ROMANTIC HOLIDAYS p68 What’s On_61





Zombie Survival Test your zombie survival skills as you and your team fight wave after wave of zombie attacks.


Let’s get virtual

Undead Arena Be the star of a postapocalyptic game show in an ‘80s retro world.

Re-invented VR gaming is here at Arena Games


irtual reality is no longer something out of sci-fi. Soon, every household hoping to keep up with the times will probably need a VR device, tapped for bingewatching and news updates. In the meantime, you can experience VR at Dubai’s latest gaming destination, Arena Games. ‘The virtual reality gaming market has been poorly served so far’, says Doran Davies, CEO or Arena Games. “Concepts have tried and failed. Arena Games is the future of gaming entertainment. We understand that the experience has to be 62_What’s On

physical as well as virtual. People have to feel that they are fully immersed in the game… we get your heart racing; your friends become allies or rivals, and you become the hero of a limitless world. This is cutting edge gaming.” Brought to Dubai by the minds behind Bounce trampoline parks, Arena Games offers 13 virtual reality games, where up to eight players can play simultaneously inside a huge 128m2 gaming space. Once you’ve chosen your game, it’s time to suit up with headsets, ultra-performance computer backpacks, and high-tech controllers.


Singularity Fight to the death against killer robots as you navigate through narrow corridors and a zerogravity environment. a Gate Avenue, Zone D, Ground Level, DIFC, daily noon to 9pm, Dhs90 (over 12s only). thearenagames.com



Alternative health and wellbeing treatments The What’s On team gets some TLC with these left-field restorative therapies


e’ve come a long way since getting freaked out by Bikram yoga. That said, there are still some pretty kookysounding health and wellbeing treatments out there – but do any of them really work magic on the mind and body? We head in to investigate…

REIKI SESSION BY WELLNESS WITH DINA THE PATIENT DIGITAL EDITOR SARAH GAMBONI THE CONCEPT Reiki is a form of energy healing that has been practiced since the 1800s. The term ‘reiki’ comes from the Japanese words ‘rei’, meaning universal, and ‘ki’, or life force energy. During a hands-on healing session, the practitioner acts as a conduit for this energy, transferring the universe’s energy through their palms to certain areas of your body. It is said to have a detoxifying effect, to help people feel more balanced in a physical, emotional and spiritual sense. THE EXPERIENCE The session takes place within 64_What’s On

Dina Ghandour

a chic treatment room in The Greens. Dappled sunlight filters through the window and candles and soothing ambient music instantly put us at ease. After a quick chat with Dina about our general well-being, we’re invited to lie down under a blanket on the massage table. Dina then begins by placing her hands on the crown of our head. Over the next hour, we slip into a semi-conscious state, as Dina slowly applies gentle pressure down the length of our body – generating warmth wherever she places her palms. THE WELL-BEING FACTOR This was a super-relaxing experience that enhanced our sense of mental clarity in the days that followed. a Wellness with Dina, Dhs350 for one session (60-75 minutes). @wellnesswithdina

PETER HESS SOUND MASSAGE AT THE HUNDRED WELLNESS CENTRE THE PATIENT HEAD OF CONTENT LAURA COUGHLIN THE CONCEPT While lying down, ‘singing bowls’ are placed on different parts of your body, then tapped gently with a felt mallet to create relaxing sound waves and a sense of inner harmony. This particular therapy, called Peter Hess sound-massage, is a modern method based on the ancient knowledge of the positive effects of sound. It follows that as modern day humans we operate on a high level frequency, where stressors and busy lives restrict healing. Sound massage helps to lower our frequency, therefore allowing our bodies to heal. THE EXPERIENCE The therapy is conducted in a cosy room inside health sanctuary The Hundred Wellness Centre. During the next 60 minutes our experienced instructor, Antje

Hosseinzadeh, places the bowls on our feet, lower back and in between our shoulder blades, and taps the bowls gently allowing the sound vibrations to wash over us like a wave. The process is repeated on our tummies, chest, and next to our ears. Almost instantly, we’re in a deep sleep, waking only from quick body jerks that jolt us back into consciousness. Whether it’s unblocked energy, or simply the effects of a deep sleep, your guess is as good as ours. THE WELL-BEING FACTOR It was a very effective method to relax quickly and deeply and we felt very calm and peaceful all day. a The Hundred Wellness Centre, Dhs500 for one session. Tel: (0)4 3447333. thehundred. ae/peter-hess-sound-massage

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TUNING FORK VIBRATIONAL THERAPY AT LEE WELLNESS THE PATIENT ONLINE REPORTER ELISE KERR THE CONCEPT Lee Whyberd, a Welsh clairvoyant and tuning fork expert, channels vibrations by applying sound waves to the body. Two steel prongs are struck to provide sounds of varying pitch and hovered on either side of the head to restore a more-balanced, harmonious state of being. Lee can also open your chakra, redirect your internal energy, and read your aura to determine what is happening and will happen in your life. THE EXPERIENCE After 10 minutes of the fork tuning, we begin to feel vibrations in our face. Shortly after the vibrations turn to huge waves whooshing from head to toe and back again. As a semi-sceptic beforehand this was an unexpected reaction. Lee additionally used his gift to accurately pinpoint things about our life that no one could’ve guessed, and predicted events


that we’ll have to see if they come true. Following the session we felt energised, perhaps from the shock of what we were told. THE WELL-BEING FACTOR As we didn’t have anything specific to ‘heal’, we were promised that we would feel less sluggish after the session – so far, so good! a Lee Wellness, Barsha Heights, starts from Dhs367.50 for 30 mins. Tel: (0)4 572 5732. leewellness.ae

THE CONCEPT The quest for a healthy mind is leading some people to turn to an unusual tool: a deck of tarot cards. They seem magical and mystical but they’re also a means to help people explore what’s going on in their lives. The tarot is a deck of 78 playing cards, each featuring pictures and symbols, which are said to reveal hidden truths and meanings. THE EXPERIENCE Are the cards going to tell us our future? Will we walk away enlightened or dazed and confused? It’s soon clear that this isn’t about fortune-telling, but rather a way to help identify areas that may be troubling us. We placed our palms either side of the deck to ‘capture energy’, then shuffled the cards whilst asking an open-ended question. We chose ‘how can I find happiness?’. We placed the deck on the table, split them, fanned them, and then picked cards that we were drawn to. Then our guide talked to us about them, interpreting the cards and explaining how they’re relevant to our life. It’s very collaborative. THE WELL-BEING FACTOR Tarot cards have deeply spiritual meanings to some. To others, they are pieces of paper with images on them. And to others, they’re pieces of paper with images on them that can be used to better understand yourself, which it kind of what it did for us, if only a little bit. a 409, Fortune Executive Towers, Cluster T, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai, Dhs350 (30 minutes). illuminations.ae

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AT TCM SHANGHAI MEDICAL CENTRE THE PATIENT ONLINE REPORTER MILES BUCKERIDGE THE CONCEPT A practitioner heats the rim of a series of small glass jars and places them onto a patient’s back, a vacuum is created and the cups clamp to the skin. The glass pods are positioned over ‘qi’ points on the body, to unblock troublesome

VIBROACOUSTIC BODYWORK AT SEVA EXPERIENCE THE PATIENT JUNIOR ONLINE REPORTER AARTI SAUNDALKAR THE CONCEPT This healing treatment combines tuning forks, singing bowls, crystals, massage and other tools into one one-hour session. The aim is to reduce stress and help return the body to a balanced state by applying vibroacoustic frequencies of 136.1 (AKA the frequency of Om) and 432 hertz, to the different meridian points of the body.

meridians. The idea is that the suction draws toxic fluids to the surface, allowing fresh, oxygenated blood to replace it. THE EXPERIENCE The session begins following a brief consultation with TCM expert, Dr Xuqin Li. After establishing what ails us, it’s off to the treatment room for 30 minutes of face-down suction cupping. The sensation isn’t painful

but it’s little a like somebody playing an aggressive round of speed chess on our back. The treatment can be used to combat a long list of conditions, but we’re here for a complaint that’s increasingly common, scroll-neck (from craning over our phone too much) and migraine. After the session, the tell-tale suction marks (the ladybird bruises you’ve probably seen on celebrity Instagram feeds) are immediately visible, but fade within a few days. THE WELL-BEING FACTOR We’ll let you know if we stay headache-free, but there was a pretty much instant impact on neck pain and tension. a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) centre, Dhs300 for cupping session, Dhs400 for initial doctor consultation. Tel: (0)4 886 2862, @tcmshanghaidxb

THE EXPERIENCE You’re enveloped in calming smells and soothing sounds of nature inside Seva’s treatment room. As we lay down, our therapist played the monochord (single-stringed instrument). She put it on our stomach and began plucking the zither, its vibrations flowing through our body. She then moved tools, switching to singing bowls then tuning forks. The treatment ended with a massage. THE WELL-BEING FACTOR An all-in-one treatment that combined many alternative therapies. Whatever stress we had prior, melted away. a Seva Experience, Dhs600 (one hour). Tel: (0)56 534 2899. sevaexperience.com

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Valentine vacations

Let’s take a few moments to daydream of escaping to one of these more unusual romantic breaks



Joshua Tree, and it’s glorious National Park, serve as a haven for the artistically-inclined, UFOlogists, solitude seekers, and otherwise offbeat creatives drawn to the power of the desert. The motels located in town are all ramshackle, so your best lodging options are through Airbnb, which has a glut of impeccably designed listings that could have easily been plucked straight from the pages of Dwell. We’ve particularly obsessed by this two-person only dome in the desert.


If you and your beloved are the kind that can’t keep still, take a trip to one of the world’s most magical and mysterious destinations: the Galapagos Islands. Hang with the locals for three nights in Ecuador before jumping on board a boat for a four-day trip around the famous islands, where you’ll be taken to Cero Brujo, a rarely-visited spot, to swim and snorkel with brown pelicans, sea lions and blue-footed boobies.


If you feel a flutter in your heart and a spring in your step, head to the hometown of St Valentine himself: Terni. On February 14, the town throws a decadent feast of delicious Italian food, set against the backdrop of the swooningly beautiful Basilica di San Valentino, where the matchmaking saint’s remains are buried. A Year of Loving Award is presented to the couple who have shown true devotion and kindness to each other.


There’s nothing romantic about frostbite and sore muscles, which is why the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch is the perfect place for piste partners. Hit the slopes with minimum effort at this ski-on ski-off resort, complete with boot butlers, roaring fires, an outdoor pit for toasting marshmallows under a starry sky, and an award-winning spa offering a package of massages and champagne for two, plus a long, hot soak together in a copper tub. What’sOn_69




Tetiaroa, French Polynesia


The Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, tucked away in 57 unspoiled acres of desert wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo foothills, is offering couples the chance to indulge in private yoga classes for two at sunrise in the Rio Grande River Valley, with the peaks of the Jemez Mountains and the wilds of New Mexico on the horizon. Then you can partake in the spa’s purification ritual at sunset, which begins with a smudging of sage, followed by a clay body mask. Then, after a restful scalp and foot massage that connects both of your energies to heaven and earth, melt away with a juniper-sage massage using hot stones.


Thirty miles north of Tahiti sits a collection of islets surrounded by warm ocean and not much else. This is about as deserted a tropical paradise as you can get. The beauty spot is so beautiful it was once reserved for the Polynesian royal family, and since then Hollywood royalty has taken a shine to it too. Marlon Brando filmed Mutiny On The Bounty here in the 1960s, fell in love with the powdery beaches and bought every last grain of sand. The Brando Resort (thebrando.com), in keeping with the actor’s wishes, is an eco-chic hideaway that’s perfect for couples.

Seoul, Korea

This massive megalopolis has something for everyone. Skyscrapers tower over ancient temples, supermalls make way for traditional fish markets. And although Seoul never sleeps, when you need to grab 40 winks head to the historical district, which houses the legendary Shilla Seoul hotel, the only place to head after a day of non-stop sightseeing and shopping a deux. Take your date up to the roof for a romantic dinner at one of the quiet restaurants, then head to the library lounge to contemplate your next day’s hustle and bustle. 70_What’s On

BOHEMIANS LOOKING FOR A BREAK: Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

If your idea of couple’s therapy is a lazy day swinging in a hammock made for two, a short stroll on the beach, stopping off at a shack for grilled lobster caught fresh that day, then this is the place for you. At just over one square mile the blissfully slow and small island is easily bikeable and its new hotel – the low key Yemaya Island Hideaway and Spa – offers swimming, snorkelling and the perfect atmosphere to reconnect.

NATIVE MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE ON EMIRATES - Attractions & Activities - Health & Wellness - Entertainment - Dining - Hotels & Resorts - Golfing The ‘Enjoy Dubai & UAE’ channels on Emirates’ awardwinning ice platform provide affordable access to one of the largest, captivated and affluent audiences in the world, creating a unique opportunity to showcase your business.

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Do you have what it takes to take on the Desert Warrior Challenge? If so, we dare you to enter this giveaway. The Desert Warrior Challenge is a homegrown adventure obstacle race, with the most adrenaline

pumping, physically demanding obstacles to date. ‘Warriors’ must run through a 5km course, while completing all the obstacles they encounter on the way, and then crawl, jump, carry, climb or slide their way to the finish line.

qq For your chance to win, go to whatson.ae/win



Ski Dubai and VOX Cinemas have combined to create a stunning one-of-a-kind cinematic experience set in snow. This prize, worth Dhs1,500, invites you and three mates to enjoy food and hot chocolates while wrapped in blankets as you watch a blockbuster movie in Ski Dubai.

This thrill and chill combo prize includes two tickets to ride the rollercoasters at Dubai Parks & Resort, and brunch for two at the relaxed brunch at Pullman Dubai JLT.

qq For your chance to win, go to whatson.ae/win

qq For your chance to win, go to whatson.ae/win


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L A S TMINUTE TRIP Dine near flamingoes and sleep in an ecodome next to the mangroves at Pura Eco Retreat. It’s a getaway in every sense of the word The location The retreat is a 10-minute buggy ride from the entrance of Jubail Mangrove Park in Abu Dhabi. Hit the Saadiyat Island Expressway and follow the signs for the park on the right – you’ll park at the public parking, then wait for a buggy to take you on the meandering route through the mangroves. On the plus side, the ride will afford some beautiful views.

The look and feel Imagine if The Beach commune was set in the Abu Dhabi mangroves, with a splash of Costa Rican vibes thrown in. Head to the main deck behind the big reception villa for the best views – you can enjoy afternoon tea on the patio whilst admiring the odd flock of flamingoes in the shallow waters, or slump in an open-air tepee with a cocktail.

The facilities A big white villa is the centrepiece of the retreat where guests check-in. Over the next few months, the team will add an indoor relaxation area and a small spa/ treatment room upstairs. Then there are the five domes to the left, and the outdoor restaurant area to the right. If you’re looking for more activities, you can borrow a fatbike to cycle around, stand up paddleboard around the mangroves, or walk the boardwalk at Jubail Park.

The rooms There are only five geodesic domes, which are fitted out simply but beautifully, with 74_What’s On

“IMAGINE IF THE BEACH WAS SET IN THE MANGROVES, WITH A SPLASH OF COSTA RICAN VIBES” two deck chairs facing out through the opaque windows and a telescope for star/ animal gazing. Each dome has an en suite, there’s a big comfy bed, a cabinet with a Marshall stereo, books, and tea and coffee. Outside each room there’s a cabana and a firepit where you can roast marshmallows or barbecue.

The food and drinks Breakfast and afternoon tea (p35) are served on the patio, while the colourful majlis area and teepees to the right of the

property serve dinner. Cocktails, mocktails and are also served.

The room rates The hotel is very much a retreat first and a restaurant second, so booking an overnight stay is highly-recommended. Dome rates with breakfast is approximately Dhs2,000 per night and is adults-only, making it a perfect romantic getaway. q @staypura

DESERT ROMANCE Treat your loved one to something unique and memorable this month at Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa. Providing privacy and tranquility in equal measure, the Desert Romance Package includes two-night stay in a luxurious, secluded suite with your own private temperature-controlled swimming pool, exclusive VIP amenities, premium sparkling beverage upon arrival, gastronomic dining experience at Al Diwaan, romantic deck dinner and a 60-minute spa treatment for both guests. T&Cs apply FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO BOOK YOUR STAY, PLEASE CALL +971 4 832 9900 OR VISIT AL-MAHA.COM

Sweep your loved one off their feet at the Destination of Exceptional Taste. Select from an array of romantic settings for a memorable evening as you savor a range of specially crafted menus full of distinguished flavors. Join us on Friday, 12th February for brunch and on Sunday, 14th February for our signature restaurants. Wanderlust Brunch Bridgewater’s Backyard Brunch Prime68 Tong Thai Izakaya Positano

JW Marriott® Marquis® Hotel Dubai Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, PO Box 121000 T + 971 4 414 3000 | jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com jwmarriottmarquisdubai |

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What's On Dubai - Feb 2021