Remember the Tesla and the panoramic pool in the first Dubai logbook? Then. We thought we had already seen luxury. It was just the beginning and a sample of the ultimate exponent of what luxury means: the Burj Al Arab, by the Jumeirah Group, opened in 1999, a five-star hotel (but known as a seven-star hotel for its grandeur).
Right in the lobby, you will be amazed by the abundance of gilding made of real gold and the Rolex indicating that this is a work where every detail has been thought out in detail. And it all started with a bigger idea: “Create something that has never been done before and will never be done again”, thought of the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, with which the Burj Al Arab was created, according to the guide on the guided tour of the hotel.
Yes, because a structure like this deserves to be seen by everyone, even those who can only pay around €65 and not a night over €900 for two people. Or more. In the case of Ronaldo, the Kardashians, Justin Bieber, Gigi Hadid and Nelson Mandela, who have already stayed in the royal suite, on the 25th floor of the 27th, with everything you can’t imagine on two floors: a staircase lined with leopard rug; queen bedroom with round bed and mirror on the ceiling; king bedroom with swivel bed; a gold-plated television; and an elevator to access and leave the suite.
After seeing all this, we realize that one of two things: either we are not very impressionable or there is no denying that so much detail falls into the tacky spectrum where we did not dream of staying. The same cannot be said of the remaining rooms of the 27-storey hotel, which also includes a panoramic restaurant, the Skyview bar, which recently also opened for lunch.
Another good option for lunch is at SAL, a beach club managed by a Portuguese woman, Marta Fidalgo, who we had the opportunity to meet.
Camões, in this salty sea, in SAL there are no tears for Portugal
SAL was a project conceived by the CEO of the Jumeirah Group, the Portuguese José Silva, and opened in September 2020 by the hands of Marta Fidalgo, a Portuguese woman who went to Dubai in 2016. She has already visited London, where she went 23 years after to finish her studies in Marketing and Tourism in Portugal, but tired of the always depressing weather in the United Kingdom, she decided to try an opportunity where the sun is always high, the heat releasing toxins from the body and the paradisiacal beaches inviting for a dip.
“I had a friend who used to say, ‘Marta, you have to come here. This is like a year-round vacation. You’ll love it, it’s always sunny’. Because I was completely fed up with that weather. , let’s try’. I sent my resume and that’s when the trip here started. I worked for several companies, like the Kempinski Hotel”, he said during lunch, until reaching the moment when SAL entered his life and became the 7th pre-open in his career.
The beach club is a mix between diving in the pool, being able to have a light and refined lunch with Mediterranean influences and a luxurious 360º view of either the beach or the Burj Al Arab.
We didn’t set foot in the pool, as tempting as it was, but we did put our hand and fork in some of SAL’s signature dishes — served on tableware by the Portuguese brand Vista Alegre. Caviar on top of tuna tartare (51€) to start, as well as tomato gazpacho (10.40€) to cool down from almost 40ºC, followed by an incredible trenette pasta, with pesto, tomato and crab (70.20€). ).
Then, yes, from Dubai we returned for a moment to Portugal in a Portuguese sea bream with roasted potatoes (65€), whose sauce on the plate led our gluttony to take another piece of bread to soak in the broth. And being a space founded by a Portuguese woman, it had to have a little of what is ours. Until the end.
When it came to desserts, in addition to a raspberry tart, mango sago (made with vegan tapioca pearls) and a creamy tiramisu, there were mini custard tarts. A piece of Portugal on the table and in the staff — which includes the friendly Sofia, 21, who served us, and Tiago, responsible for managing the pool beds —, which allows the Portuguese who visit Dubai (and the Dubai Tourism expects that by the end of 2022, all travelers before the pandemic will be back to 100%, according to “Around the World”) to miss you, even on vacation.
Oh, and on a day spent at the SAL pool (about €208, with half the amount in credit) it is mandatory to go to the bathroom. Those who stay all day have access to a bathroom with scales, lockers, deodorant and (what impressed us the most) a coffee machine — an attack for those who just hear the name or smell the rhythm. accelerated.
The spot made for Instagram
The morning of the second day in Dubai started at Dubai Frame. It is best to visit with a not too full stomach, which is why we went before the visit to SAL, because here you are invited to walk on a glass bridge, 150 meters high. It starts with what would be a historical explanation, short and not very explanatory, but with the essentials.
However, the biggest details about the Dubai Frame we found out almost as soon as we left. Perhaps if we had realized earlier that this infrastructure (on a grand scale, like everything else in Dubai) was designed by around 3,600 specialists, from engineers to architects, and that the bridge has 116 square meters of smart glass that becomes transparent when a person walks, we would have valued the experience at the top of the building more.
This experience is not for everyone, as you have to be a bit fearless to go over the bridge. Although we didn’t even feel butterflies in our stomachs — whoever jumped out of a plane, perhaps is already immune to some emotions at times (not all, as we’ll tell in the next episodes) — around us there were those who were more cautious.
With more or less fears, Dubai Frame is an icon of Dubai to visit that, in addition to the interior looking good in the photographs, the exterior is an Instagram frame without needing filters added.
The visit to Dubai Frame costs from around €65 per person.
Live like a Bedouin for one night
There is an image that we will not forget from this trip to Dubai: James with one hand on the steering wheel of the yellow 1951 Land Rover and the other outside feeling the heat, the dust, the wind that ran at the speed of the car (albeit reduced due to the sustainable concept of safari, which we will talk about in a moment). The look was attentive on the road, while the smile was lost in thoughts, we believe, of how good it is to feel the desert.
We didn’t get that level into James’ privacy, but at least that’s what we were feeling too and thanks to him. We embarked on a desert safari with Platinum Heritage Safaris, the only desert ecotourism company that James has worked for for a year and a half. He left Brazil at the age of 20, went to live and work in Australia for five years, then New Zealand, went to Dubai later and is not going to stay here because he wants to “travel as much as possible”.
Fortunately, he hasn’t left the country yet, because the excitement of this Brazilian, who misses his caipirinhas, makes up for any alcohol that in Dubai is taxed at prices that make us not want a cocktail or even beer.
Platinum Heritage Safaris are distinguished by the restored Land Rover cars, which cautiously drive through the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (the oldest and one of the largest national parks in the UAE) without destroying the dunes and vegetation that feed the animals. , such as the Arabian oryx, and take tourists to the camps awarded as the most sustainable in the Dubai Sustainable Tourism Awards 2019, where the experience continues overnight.
Before this, James took us to see the desert waves, the ghuf, a protected national tree, pass by the desert resort Al Maha (“beautiful eyes”, in Portuguese) and watch a falconry show ( one of the national animals). This was the last point before arriving at the camp for a Bedouin experience, that is, one that shows what the traditions of the nomadic tribes of the Arabian desert are like.
At the entrance, a short cup of coffee (which, if you paid attention to the previous logbook, is a good sign) and a date and then a feast with breaks for cultural traditions. Despite the hot night, nothing takes away the comfort of a soup, especially lentils with Aragaki pita bread, made with just four ingredients — “water, salt, flour and love”, James explained to us — and which goes well in every way: simple, in the soup or with the hummus in the starters, next to the cheese cake.
To create space for the main ones, we watched the performance of Dubai’s traditional music and dance, Al-Razfa (and if it weren’t for the tiredness of the day, we would have joined together).
For principals, something controversial: camel meat, when the camels were also close to the camp for those who wanted to walk. But assuming that this is an ecotourism, it is just one point among others that protect animals and nature. Forward.
There was also lamb cooked as if it were a kind of stew from the caves, which was traditionally done in the following way: a hole was dug under the ground, the mutton was opened and the meat was cleaned and the meat was cooked in the hole. . The difference between then and now is that before it took about 24 hours to cook because the lamb was placed inside a palm leaf and now it takes between 4 to 6 hours because it is covered in aluminum foil.
After a planetary session to learn to identify the constellations and some shisha, desserts followed, including the famous Arabic balls luqaimat. To finish off, an Arabic coffee or camel milk, which did not convince us. Anyone who drinks milk at all hours, hot or cold, will perhaps be able to appreciate it, but for those who, like us, have been addicted to plant-based drinks for some years, it is almost impossible to smell, let alone drink.
The desert experience starts at around €155 per adult, which includes an adventure package (welcome kit), 60-minute safari, falconry, dinner, camel rides and cultural entertainment.
From ostentation to luxury, one word to sum up the second day of the logbook: intense.
*MAGG traveled at the invitation of Dubai Tourism.