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  • Page 9

    and in travel plus: the king of kings, elvis presley

    Be prepared to come across the unexpected in Dubai

    by Muriel bolger

    turn to next page


    pearl desertof the


    D ubai is the city of superlat ives . Pick whichever one you like – the largest, tallest, smartest, swankiest,

    showiest, blingy-est, shoppy- est, well maybe not that,

    but any of the others and you’ll have hit the nail full square on the head. in global terms it’s a baby. The ‘old town’ is

    scarcely 50 years old. before that it was a tiny coastal fish-

    ing village whose menfolk spend months at a time at sea, pearl fishing. They lived in tents or collections of mud houses with wind towers, an innovative way of circulating air inside in the sti- fling summers.

    Now this city, capital of one of the seven states which make up the united arab Emirates, is a beacon in the world, a beacon to commercialism, entertain- ment, pleasure and business.

    Lucky enough to have a modern leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid


  • from previous page

    They offer a choice of 35 desserts... I asked the chef: ‘Who ate the 36th?’

    Now that’s what I call service. By complete contrast the follow-

    ing day we undertook another eat- ing marathon. We did a Frying Pan Adventure. No, that didn’t involve going around with frying pans under our arms, but over four hours we did meet chefs and go into kitchens in the old town, sampling an array of local and imported favourites, Lebanese spices, falafels, a very sweet delicacy called knafeh, which is eaten at breakfast, and ice cream made from the root of the soap plant.

    It was a great way to meet locals and get a glimpse into the authentic life of the citizens, of whom less than 20 per cent are Emiratis. In this melting pot we ate lunch at a local restaurant sitting crossed-leg- ged and bare-footed while we were given a lesson in how to eat a meat and rice dish without cutlery, using the right hand only. We learned the etiquette around accepting coffee, and how this tastes even better with some dates, especially the chocolate-covered ones.

    DIsPLAys of wealth are hard to avoid. On the seven and eight-lane highways Rolls-Royces, Lamborghinis and Maseratis purr by as they overtake, but I was to learn there’s an even more revealing status symbol – the pedigree of your falcon! These feathered creatures are treated like royalty. A well-bred one can cost you a mere €70,000, and there are tales of some fetching six-figure sums. Needless to say they have their own hospital in Dubai too. Well they would, wouldn’t they?

    We got a fashion lesson at the sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cul- tural Learning and a fascinating his- tory at the newly opened Etihad Museum. It’s located on the site where the first UAE flag was raised in December 1971, coincidently the same year as oil was discovered here. That flag pole is dwarfed by the tallest one you’ll ever see. This futuristic building features seven pillars, symbolising the seven pens used to sign the Union Agreement. The country is now a federation of seven emirates, Abu Dhabi, the cap- ital, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, shar- jah, Umm al-Quwain and Ras al-Khaimah.

    The Deira Gold souk was a daz- zling experience. Here a labyrinth of streets comprises nothing but shops filled with gold. Everything from tiaras to solid 22 carat gold golden football boots are designed to tempt. In one window the world’s largest ring, the star of Taiba, is a permanent attraction. It’s esti- mated to have cost more than two and a half million euro.

    From there we walked to the quay- side to cross the Creek in an abra, the traditional ferry boats used by the locals. While waiting we cooled down with some very tasty camel

    milk ice cream. Across the water a walkabout through AL Fahidi, the old part of Dubai and more souks, saw me quickly become quite skilful at dodging the proffered pashminas and spices. Our destination was Al Fahidi Fort Museum for a cultural journey though time.

    The twinkling lights of this city’s ever-growing skyline and the eclec- tic architecture added to the pleas- ure of dinner on our Dhow River cruise.

    If asked to pick what would induce me back it would be the Dubai Fountains. They are worth a visit alone. Here I’m searching for the

    right superlative, because they deserve one! They are truly spec- tacular and can spray 83,000 litres of water in the air at any moment. And, as if that wasn’t showy enough, more than 6,600 lights and 25 colour projectors are synchronised into action in countless combinations and patterns as the waters dance and frolic in glorious choreographed displays every half hour in the evenings.

    Although our hotel has a covered walkway right into the Dubai Mall, whose total area is the equivalent of 200 football pitches, the thoughts of 1,200 retail outlets was enough to

    An oasis in the desert: Our Muriel sits back and enjoys the scenery

    Al Maktoum, whose father was a visionary before him, it’s developing as a monument to modernism.

    He doesn’t stand in the way of progress, but rather embraces it in all its forms. Progress is not held up for years while decisions are made, appealed or reversed. If they need a new road, a metro or a stadium, it gets built, along with the necessary infrastructure. With tourism and not oil as is commonly thought, being its major source of income, the visitor is king and nothing is too good for them.

    service reaches new heights and although I seldom mention hotels I stay in I have to on this occasion. My address was Address Boulevard, right

    in the centre of town. From the deck of the infinity pool, (there were two others), I could crane my neck to take in the awesome sight of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, 828 metres high. (The Eiffel Tower is 300 and the Empire state Building 381). For me Address defines five-star serv- ice and luxury, friendly and unobtru- sive, and I didn’t want to leave.

    Every Friday – their sabbath – they put on a Riviera Chic Brunch which has to be the calorie-est brunch ever. It’s French themed, with live French music and traditional French dishes. Leaving the cheese table aside, it offers a choice of 35 desserts. I asked the chef who ate the thirty-sixth. When I was leaving the restaurant he came after me with a box of other confections – in case I had missed any.

    High-end shopping: But jewellery won’t be cheap

  • WHEN it’s Spring again, I’ll sing again... Tulips &

    Windmills ten-day tour on the River Princess, River Queen or River Duchess 30% off, was €2,799pps, now €1,959pps. It’s just one of the many discounts Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is offering. Call 1 800 98 98 98/www.uniworld.com.

    THERE will be a Munster invasion of Paris this

    summer... be warned. Air France is introducing a new Cork to Paris- Charles de Gaulle route commencing May 26 and running through to October 27. Visit www. airfrance.ie/call 01 6590442.

    Page 15

    by jim murty

    Holiday snaps

    Cyprus gives a Classic twist to a real favourite

    travel facts FLIGHTS Muriel flew with Emirates from Dublin.

    WHERE TO STAY Address Boulevard from £261 (€290) pernight (excluding service charge, tourism fees & tourism dirham). To b o o k : w w w. a d d r e s s hotels.com/en/hotels/ address-boulevard.

    WHAT TO DO Riviera Chic Brunch at The Restau- rant at Address every Friday 12.30pm until 4pm from €73 €113. Frying Pan Adventures fryingpanadventures.com/calen- dar from £82 Etihad Museum etihadmuseum.dubaiculture.ae/ en/pages/default.aspx. Prices €6 for adults (25+) and €3.50 for stu- dents. The Golden City Dubai Tour the gold souk, water taxi, the old part of Dubai to the Al Fahidi Fort Museum €28. 50. localsales@ori- enttours.ae La Perle. Tickets from €86. www.laperle.com.

    they offer a choice of 35 desserts... i asked the chef: ‘Who ate the 36th?’

    m y old student pal and fi lm buff Dave would set up the scene most weekends.

    He’d order a cigar at the bar and they would ask him: Classic? (as in Classic Panatella)and he would burst out into you’ve Lost That Loving Feeling. No matter how often he did it he still found it uproariously funny. Probably still does.

    So what makes a classic? Quality and time. Classic Collection Holi- days and its tailor-made vacations delivers the first in spades. While three years in it is already showing it has stickabil- ity in difficult times and looks like becom- ing a fixture (and l e a d e r ) i n t h e market.

    Classic Collection launched its 2018 brochure this week with a new partner in tow, luxury cruise operator Silversea.

    Its brochure covers luxury four and five-star hotels in mainland Spain, The Balearic Islands, The Canary Islands, Portugal, Italy, Malta, Croatia and Greece.

    And new for this year is an old Irish favourite, Cyrpus, now

    accessible directly from Dublin through both

    Larnaca and Paphos. What marks Classic

    out is that it offers a choice of any depar- ture date for any duration from any Irish airport. And it has more than 1,000

    luxury hotels on offer across its programme. All Classic packages

    include flights, accommoda- tion, private return transfers and

    services of a resort rep. Visit www.classic-collection.ie or