A few Dubai habits you pick up as time goes by

I’m nearing the end of my fourth year in Dubai and here a few observations about what the city does to you, or more accurately, what it has done to me.

In my first year, I was mostly at home freelancing and had not entered into life in the city as yet. But now, a few years into a steady job, Alhamdulillah, as they say here, I’ve fallen into the rhythms and pace of Dubai.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed:

  • Your appearance becomes much more important, especially if you’re already careful about it. It becomes next to impossible to step out of the home without some makeup on. I never owned a hair iron and fussed much less about chipped nails when I lived in India. Salon blow drys and Gelish appointments are still not routine as far as I’m concerned but I will plump for them if I’ve got an event coming up. However, if I start using false eyelashes, I know I will need an intervention.

 

  • You’ll order in a lot more. Maybe this is just me and from working with significantly younger people, who generally don’t seem to cook. And also because I get lazy every now and then.

 

  • Everyone owns an iPhone. About 10.5 people own an android device of some sort. You were once one of those people, and you now think of the old you with distant affection.

 

  • Your wardrobe will become 70% black or 70% white, depending on which way you lean.

 

  • You’ll start to suffer from serious weekend FOMO. Come Wednesday and everyone starts throwing out ridiculously exotic plans, one fancier than the other. Staycation! Champagne brunch! Skydiving! Sorry, lunch at the mall just won’t cut it.

 

  • Talking of which, everyone will moan about how much they hate going to the mall. This, after spending a whole day at the mall.

 

  • If you socialize, you’ll scour Groupon or Beam or Entertainer or just about anything that offers you deals. You’ll take great pride in whatever discounts you score there.

 

  • You’ll get to sample cuisines from different cultures, not just from restaurants but if you’re lucky, your colleagues’ lunch boxes.

 

  • And when it comes to restaurants yes, Dubai has one for every cuisine, but quite a few of these do still feel generic and blah.

 

  • You’ll start to pepper your conversation with Yalla, Inshallah, Alhamdulillah (see above) and habibi even though you know no Arabic whatsoever.

 

  • You’ll hear people around you moan about culture, lack thereof, and wonder why they don’t do their research and make an effort to look beyond the gloss.

 

  • As a woman, you’ll appreciate that men don’t lech at you the way they do in parts of India. I’m afraid to jinx it but I have to say you’ll feel safer here as a woman than in many other places.

 

  • At some point, you’ll go on a yacht cruise around the Marina and even a stretch limo ride at midnight.

 

  • You’ll be amused by friends raised in the city who scream at the sight of a moth or fly.

 

  • You won’t be able to deal with dirty bathrooms or broken pavements ever again. Nope. Nuh huh.

 

As you can see, this is quite a silly little list, and quite a few things are missing from it – the ubiquitous Friday brunches and Tuesday’s ladies’ nights for instance as I’m not qualified to talk about those at all. Nor can I speak to the coffee habits or exercise fads that grip the city. A friend once likened Dubai to Disneyland and that comparison is quite apt as life runs so smoothly here. While we’re constantly reminded of how ephemeral it all is, we tend to suspend thought and simply go with the flow.

 

 

Around the open-air markets in Dubai

With temperatures hovering just below 50 degrees centigrade, this is an odd time to talk about the various open-air markets in Dubai – unless you’re shopping around for sunstroke.

But to misquote, if summer comes, can winter be far behind? From October to March, the sun still shines (on most days, hello cloud-seeding), temperature stays in the cool early 20s and there’s a pleasant breeze. It’s when everyone is outdoors 24/7, and naturally that means eating, drinking, shopping and strolling outdoors too – all the things you take for granted in other parts of the world.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen many different markets pop up on my Facebook feed. Do they live up to the hype? Here’s a quick look at a few I’ve been lucky enough to go to, a few of my finds and hauls, and my thoughts on what experiences and memories are worth bagging and which ones you should trash.

And oh, one thing to remember is that none of these markets – except the flea market – is especially cheap, so definitely go after payday!

Ripe Market

This is arguably the most famous and nicest of the markets, hosted by Ripe, an organization that sources and sells fresh organic produce. The market itself is built around its vegetable and produce shop, however there’s a lot more than just carrots and greens on offer.

The edition I visited (admittedly a couple of years ago) was the outdoor, morning one usually held in Zabeel Park on Fridays. There’s also a Night Market at the Pond Park in Barsha and an indoor version in summer.

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Vibe:

Laidback glam. Pretty white marquees, bunting and trestle tables, all arranged around a path in the park. Folks lounging on blankets under trees, while littler folks throw Frisbees around.

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Go for:

An abundance of food stalls, a couple of food trucks, kiosks selling interesting merchandise, music and plenty of winter sunshine. Things to buy ranged from jewellery to clothing, accessories and tchotchkes.

You won’t miss:

Ripe is on the pricier side, with most of the food stalls organised by the trendier cafés in town. A lot of the merchandise is expensive.

Truckers DXB – Food Truck JAM 

As the name suggests, this a food truck market. Truckers travels across the emirates and pops up in different venues, but I went to the one where the festival is parked more often than not – The Emirates Golf Club.

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Vibe:

Slumming it, champagne-set style. Think pretty sunsets, expansive green lawns, fairy lights, well-dressed folk, colourful trucks, stalls of knick-knacks and magic in the air.

Go for:

A host of food trucks covering a range of cuisines. There were Indian, Italian, Asian, Mexican, Arabic and Fast Food choices when I went. Plus shisha and beer for those who were so inclined. The food was all mostly affordable and well-made, whatever we tasted at least. The ambience was amazing, with several musical acts stepping on the makeshift stage that evening, as the crowd sat on upturned packing crates arranged in rows.

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You won’t miss:

Truckers is not easily accessible by public transport, especially when it’s deep in the heart of the Golf Club. You’ll need to drive in for sure.  Also it can get a bit chilly, so don’t forget to wrap up.

Arte Market

An indoor crafts fair, Arte is the place to be if you’re looking for something unique for yourself or your home. Dubai is a great place to shop but unfortunately, most of the wares are either high street or designer. There really isn’t a whole lot of mom-and-pop stores or independent labels of the sort you’ll find elsewhere. Arte is really the best way to fix that.

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Vibe:

Boho and crafty, with the effect unfortunately being a little diluted by the event’s location within a mall.

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Go for:

Tons and tons! There are stalls dedicated to scarves, clothing, art, handmade curios, preserves, baked goods and even, cloth sanitary napkins. My favourite seller was Audrey’s Cat, which stocks vintage jewellery, especially brooches.

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At the end of an hour at the Arte Market, I was poorer by a few hundred dirhams and weighed down by a hand-painted tray, homemade granola, a box of blondies (white chocolate brownies), one bottle of an amazingly yummy sun-dried tomato spread, and a stunning Lucite brooch. It’s a hard life, that’s for sure.

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You won’t miss:

It’s not strictly outdoors, and you’ll find yourself buying a lot more than you need!

Fashion Swap Shop

This seemed to be an interesting concept when I saw it online, so a friend and I decided to check it out. We went when the fair was right next to us at Media One, at one of its open air restobars. To explain the concept, there is a swap rail where you can leave the clothes you want to donate. You’ll then be given tokens, one for each piece you give. You can use a token to pick up an item of clothing that someone else has left on the rail.

Vibe:

A chic but rather generic affair. Overhyped.

Go for:

Other than the swap rail, there are a few sellers of handmade items and clothing. I got a pretty collar from a Turkish lady whose wares were made by her sister. There was a beauty salon that does your hair for free as well.

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You won’t miss:

Maybe it was just that particular night, but the swap rail was more of a flop rail. For one thing, people trickle in, which means that at any given time the rail is rather bare. Once you’ve handed in your items, you’ll need to hang around on the sidelines as people come in with their products. You will also need to be pretty quick to jump in, go through the 3 or 4 new additions that each person brings and take your pick. I wasn’t unhappy with the things I got, but unlike the flea market, there really isn’t that much to choose from. There’s a lot of waiting time, which you can kill with a little tipple and finger food like we did, but it’s still not really my glass of wine cup of tea.

Other than these four fairs, I’ve already written about the Dubai Fleamarket here. Box Park is a great open air venue too, in winter. There are a few that I haven’t seen, and by next winter, there’s sure to be more. Until then, I’ll just sit here in the AC and plan away…

 

Afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason, Dubai

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A view of the tea room.

As my daughter and I walked into Fortnum and Mason Dubai, I worried a little that it would be one of those snobby Dubai places where you’d be judged by your clothes and designer togs (or lack thereof). Considering we were walking in carrying a large plastic bag from Daiso’s, I assumed we had every right to be worried. Add in the fact that the original store in London counts the Queen as one of its regular patrons, we clearly had no business there.

Or so I thought, and was proven pleasantly wrong. For one thing, the kindly English hostess patiently explained the whole menu to me, an absolute afternoon tea virgin. I thought I’d be expected to order two afternoon teas, one for each of us, or at the very least place a second order of a little something, but she said it was unnecessary.

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A sunny corner. You can also choose to sit outdoors.

She seated us at our table with a pristine white table cloth in a pretty corner of the sunlit tea room (well duh, this is, after all, Dubai in April!) The interiors reminded me that my daughter and I were at Fortnum as much for the atmosphere as for the food. There was pretty china in their signature green, silverware that was clearly aged but in the nicest way, glass jars and more. The menus were gorgeous and I wish I had taken a picture, but I was far too conscious of the waiter hovering.

As part of the tea, you get served a pot of tea, five finger sandwiches, some mini desserts and cakes, scones and a full-sized wedge of cake.

To begin with, we selected our tea (Assam) and moved to the cake display to choose our full-sized cake slice. There was a Victoria sponge, a Battenburg cake (which I was forced to reject as it contains marzipan, which my daughter hates) and a chocolate cake. There might have been a fourth choice but at this point my eyes glazed over. We went with the Victoria as it seemed to be the safest bet.

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Clotted cream, preserves and my cup of tea. 

Back at our table, our clotted cream and preserves had arrived as a precursor to the main dishes. Our server poured out the Assam tea using a wee strainer, and then placed a three tier cake tray in front of us.

As a vegetarian, I could eat only one of the five finger sandwiches – mint and cucumber. In retrospect, I should have saved it to leaven the sugar overdose that was to follow. My daughter ate the rest; salmon, beef and egg among others.

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The entire service in all its glory with my daughter caught in mid-chomp.

The two scones were plain and raisin respectively; we tried them with the clotted cream, raspberry preserve and strawberry preserve as was recommended.

By now, the rest of the dessert offerings were beginning to look at me with a menacing eye. I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but my daughter polished off a mini macaroon, a little red velvet thingy, and an itty-bitty chocolate cake. She also ate half of the massive Victoria sponge while I marveled at her dessert-eating abilities. I picked at a little of the cake, ate the apple crumble, demolished most of both the scones and swore not to eat anything sweet ever again in this lifetime. However, I did absolutely love the fruity pannacotta. It was sweet yet tart and just perfect!

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All the mini-desserts, plus more chomping in the background. 

Now that I’m done with my first afternoon tea experience, I believe that the whole experience is better suited for a long and leisurely afternoon with friends, delicately nibbling on sandwiches, popping down a mini-dessert or two (but not more!), drinking copious cups of tea while debating the state of the world (or botox, as the lovely women at the next table were doing). For the two of us, it was a bit of a struggle (in the nicest way) to finish everything laid out before us, but ah well, first-world problems!

 

These are a few of my favourite things

I wrote a while back about my grandmother’s filigree brooch, which is one of my most treasured pieces. Very few of my other pieces have that pedigree – although I do have some antique gold tucked away in a locker across the seas, and loads and loads of the of-the-moment pieces that Aldo, Claire’s or Accessorise see fit to churn out.

But what of the pieces that have some personal history, carry interesting associations or are linked irrevocably to friends and memories?

I’ve always had a fascination for precious stones – rubies, diamonds and emeralds especially. So the first of my modest collection of what I’ll call interesting jewellery, is this, a small pair of ruby earrings belonging, once again, to my grandmother. It was in the very same glass bottle that I mentioned in the post on the brooch. IMG_9061

I wore these for my wedding, attached to a longer, more traditional pair and I remember asking her what stones they were. She shrugged and said “Good red stones” – by which I understood she thought they were rubies. And so they were, as I confirmed many years later, on one of my rare visits to a jeweller. I love the beautiful deep colour of these stones, and the unmistakably old-fashioned and untrendy setting.

IMG_2508But before we consign my grandmother’s glass bottle to the steel armoire, there’s one more little treasure in there – a black opal. Part of a set of loose stones she got from Australia, this stone was hurriedly set in an old gold ring, to make my wedding trousseau look a little more substantial. The opal itself hasn’t been polished to achieve the iridescence and colour of black opals I’ve seen elsewhere, but I love it all the same. Its liquid beauty and simple oval shape make this a classic as far as I am concerned. Also, I have only her word for it that this is a black opal – it might be a chip of marble for all I know.

IMG_4886I bought myself these emerald earrings after having saved up for them for a long time. I’d joined one of those monthly installment schemes, and shortly after I did my financial situation took a nosedive due to various circumstances. So, when the scheme matured, having struggled all year, it was with a sense of deep satisfaction I went in to buy these. I had a choice between really tiny diamonds or more substantial emeralds and I thought these earrings were just perfect. I don’t wear them as often as I should, but consider them an elegant addition to my closet.

IMG_2457This little scarab pin was gifted to me by my little cousin – not so little actually, considering she’s all grown up enough to go to Germany on an exchange programme, visit the Egyptian museum in Berlin and pick out an interesting piece of jewellery for the constant companion of her childhood.

I wear this quirky little creation on the collar of my shirts to add a touch of interest.

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These oh-so-pretty pink topaz earrings were gifted by a close friend in the early days of our friendship. I’d moved cities not long before that, and begun a new job where I was thrown in with a set of wonderfully intelligent yet intimidating women, whose conversation, laced as it was with wordplay and references regularly went over my head – a feeling I am not generally used to.

By the time I got this on my 36th birthday, however, I had firmly become one of the inner circle. That year is always enshrined in my memory as a priceless one of self-discovery, good food, great wine and the best conversations.

FullSizeRender 12This one is a recent acquisition, bought from Lynda Kirby, a seller who specializes in all things vintage. It was one of my favourite finds at the wonderful Arte Market. Considering my budget, my choices were this pretty lucite leaf and an oval cloisonné brooch in black and gold. Her entire collection is gorgeous. She stocks vintage dresses, hats, rings and more. Lynda sources much of her stuff from England, where she’s from. I’m looking forward to going back and picking up more, when time and my purse permit.

As a bonafide magpie, I have my eye on a ton of other shiny things. More brooches, for instance. Something – anything – with the distinctive interlocking Chanel Cs. A pair of earrings with the pearl drops like this, or this brooch. Some real, creamy pearls or even good looking cultured ones – the list goes on an on.

Fleeting thoughts while listening to Schubert and sipping Rosé

img_0928Halfway through Gergely Boganyi’s piano concert at the One & Only Ballroom this weekend, I was reminded of a scene from a beloved book, EM Forster’s Howards End.

It was probably during one of the exquisite impromptus just before recess; I closed my eyes, and a series of images flitted by. I’m not sure what I saw, it was just a hazy montage of beautiful images, possibly even my favourite impressionist art, but it immediately sparked this memory of Helen Schlegel’s response to Beethoven’s Fifth. 

“The Andante had begun – very beautiful, but bearing a family likeness to all the other beautiful Andantes that Beethoven has written, and, to Helen’s mind, rather disconnecting the heroes and shipwrecks of the first movement from the heroes and goblins of the third. She heard the tune through once, and then her attention wandered … and the Andante came to an end… Helen said to her aunt: `Now comes the wonderful movement: first of all the goblins, and then a trio of elephants dancing,’ and Tibby implored the company generally to look out for the the transitional passage on the drum…

No; look out for the part where you think you have done with the goblins and they come back,’ breathed Helen, as the music started with a goblin walking quietly over the universe, from end to end. Others followed him. They were not aggressive creatures; it was that that made them so terrible to Helen. They merely observed in passing that there was no such thing as splendour or heroism in the world. After the interlude of elephants dancing, they returned and made the observation for the second time. Helen could not contradict them, for, once at all events, she had felt the same, and had seen the reliable walls of youth collapse. Panic and emptiness! Panic and emptiness! The goblins were right.

Her brother raised his finger : it was the transitional passage on the drum. For, as if things were going too far, Beethoven took hold of the goblins and made them do what he wanted. He appeared in person. He gave them a little push, and they began to walk in a major key instead of in a minor, and then he blew with his mouth and they were scattered! Gusts of splendour, gods and demigods contending with vast swords and fragrance broadcast on the field of battle, magnificent death! […] Any fate was titanic; any contest desirable; conqueror and conquered would alike be applauded by the angels of the utmost stars.

And the goblins – they had not really been there at all? They were only the phantoms of cowardice and unbelief? One healthy human impulse would dispel them. Men like the Wilcoxes, or President Roosevelt, would say yes. Beethoven knew better. The goblins really had been there. They might return – and they did. It was as if the splendour of life might boil over and waste to steam and froth. In its dissolution one heard the terrible, ominous note, and a goblin, with increased malignity, walked quietly over the universe from end to end. Panic and emptiness! Panic and emptiness! Even the flaming ramparts of the world might fall.

Beethoven chose to make it all right in the end. He built the ramparts up. He blew with his mouth for the second time, and again the goblins were scattered. He brought back the gusts of splendour, the heroism, the youth, the magnificence of life and death, and, amid vast roarings of a superhuman joy, he led his Fifth Symphony to its conclusion. But the goblins were there. They could return. He had said so bravely, and that is why one can trust Beethoven when he says other things.”

 

 

The Saturday Tour at Al Serkal Avenue, Dubai

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Ever since I began reading up on Dubai’s vibrant art scene, I’ve wanted to visit Al Serkal Avenue. I held back because I couldn’t quite figure out how to reach the district – which is deep in Al Quoz, an industrial area – and what exactly to do once I got there. How sprawling was the area? Which galleries should I visit? What exhibits should I see?

When I saw an invitation for one of their Saturday Tours on Facebook, I jumped at the chance have these decisions taken out of my hands, and it turned out to be a good call.

Prepping a blank canvas

To begin with, getting to the Avenue was easier than I thought – I took a taxi from Noor Bank metro station, taking care to roll the R on Al Serkal as I directed the cabbie.  The Avenue is actually a gated complex, full of warehouses, many of which have been converted into galleries, studios and cafés.

There were over 20 people gathered at the assembly point, aspiring artists, art enthusiasts, insiders, and I’m sure, novice art lovers like me. The tour was conducted by Victoria, who’s involved in the district’s external affairs, and Luay, who’s part of the programming team.

img_3940Victoria setting a brisk pace on the gallery tour.

Before taking us around the galleries, the duo explained how Al Serkal Avenue came into being and what it attempts to achieve. They told us then, and over the course of the tour, that the area was originally home to a marble factory (the stones being imported from Carrara, no less), how the family had slowly given out the spaces to galleries, how some of the warehouses still went about their regular, non-artsy business, giving the district a true and authentic vibe. There were 12 galleries in the district, as well as many studios, cafés and a theatre.

Filling in the colours

The introduction done, it was time to see some actual art. We covered four galleries in the one hour, and two studios.

We started with Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde which featured the works of two Iranian brothers Ramin and Rokin Haerizadeh. There were video installations, tapestries and all manner of beautiful things.

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The same gallery also had the works of the renowned Emirati artist, Hassan Sharif, who had passed away earlier in the year. As Victoria put it, Hassan Sharif was the best name to throw around to prove Dubai’s credentials as an art hub. She showed us his work that had been featured in the Guggenheim and elsewhere.

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I also loved this clever little sculpture by a Belgian artist, whose name I didn’t catch, sadly. (Diligent googling revealed that it was possibly Fred Eerdekens.) I noticed that quite a few of my tour companions were taken by it too, and all the smartphones were out and clicking away. The squiggles say ‘Forever these words unsteadily will live’.

We then moved on to Gallery Lawrie Shabibi, where the main draw was Pakistani artist Hamra Abbas’ Kaaba-inspired installations and art. In the centre of the room was an acrylic (?) installation, which consisted of blown-up versions of the souvenirs typical to pilgrimage sites, such as Mecca. It took me back to my visits to the many temple towns in India, where after praying, we’d browse through the shiny plastic mementos and jewellery.

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Hamra Abbas’ exhibit inspired by souvenirs she picked up on Umrah. 

There were other exhibits too, so I’ve linked to the gallery page that explains the entire collection here.

Our third visit was to a gallery called Showcase, where the works of Emirati artist Ahmed Al Faresi were on display. Titled ‘We are but one thread’ the exhibition traced the links between native American and nomadic Bedouin cultures.

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This was my favourite exhibit of the entire tour, partly because I’m not as fond of abstract art. The simple colour palette, the cleanness of the work, the theme and the connection to the region could not fail to appeal to me.

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This work by Ahmed Al Faresi had a pelt of fur at the bottom.

Our fourth and final gallery for the evening was Leila Heller, a branch of a New York based gallery. There were several artists on display but I focused on the big canvases by Gordon Cheung.

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Victoria pointed out that the cowboys on bucking broncos referred to the financial markets, and drew our attention to the fact that they were painted over stock listings from the Financial Times.

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A close-up of the work, which shows the stock listings over which it has been painted.

Looking up Gordon Cheung, similar bull-and-bear inspired paintings seem to have been created in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008.

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We were told that this Chinese vase with its drooping flowers, was meant to be a memento mori.

The whole collection was very interesting, and featured many more canvases that I haven’t shown – do read more on it here.

Adding those beautiful flourishes

The tour wasn’t just galleries however, which was good since I was already suffering from something of a sensory overload. We were also taken to two studios. The first of these, Satellite, is the stomping ground of art collector Rami Farook, and is not strictly a studio, but more of an art storehouse and hang out – or so I understood it.

The second was the studio of El Seed, a French-Tunisian graffiti artist, who showed us a video of his amazing project ‘Perception’. The project involved painting Arabic graffiti on the walls of a poor neighbourhood in Cairo, which is also known as ‘Trash City’ for its huge piles of garbage. The graffiti was finally lit up, and it reads ‘Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly, needs to wipe his eyes first’ – a quote from a third century Coptic priest. The project is fascinating, and there are more details on his website.

El Seed mentioned that growing up in Paris, he did not learn to write Arabic until much later. He spoke of how he suffered from an identity crisis when he turned 16. He is a genuinely world-renowned artist but came off as extremely humble and invested in his art.  Which, incidentally sums up Al Serkal Avenue for me. It was one of the most genuine experiences I’ve had since moving here.

The final touches

All through the tour, cafés were pointed out to us. These were housed in huge loft-like spaces, full of light and epitomizing industrial chic.

The icing, or rather the ganache on the cake, was our visit to a chocolate factory, which produces Mirzam, a UAE-only label of artisanal chocolate.

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A geography lesson in cocoa beans.

Mirzam produces single-origin chocolates made from Ghanaian, Indian, Cuban and Madagascarian (I think I may have made up a word) cocoa beans, as well as other interesting variants. The plant smelled heavenly, with the scent of chocolate wafting out of the door into the street. We also sampled chocolate tea, which was surprisingly good.

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I got myself this one. How gorgeous is the packaging? I love that it references travel, and the word itself is the name of a star.

On that sweet note, the tour came to an end. As I walked back in the fading light, I was already looking forward to my next visit to Al Serkal Avenue, to seeing more of the best art Dubai and the world have to offer.

Harry Potter and the Evening of Laughter

A parody of Harry Potter? Sacrilege, you say. Umm. Not quite.

Just ten minutes into the hilarious show Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Experience, it became obvious that Dan and Jeff, the two comedians and actors bringing this show to Dubai, ­have a tremendous amount of affection for and knowledge of the series.

The guys were in DUCTAC the weekend of September 15, 16 and 17, performing at the Centrepoint theatre. We went for the 7 PM show on Friday, September 16 with kids in tow, because as the promotional material says, the show is open to everyone from ages 6 to Dumbledore.

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I don’t want to give away too much of the meat of the show, so here’s a rough outline of its basic premise. Jeff, who is a Harry Potter fanatic, and his pal Dan (who doesn’t have quite the same fervour), plan to showcase all 7 books in 70 minutes, on stage. Dan has been tasked with hiring the best actors for the job, and coming up with the best sets to keep the audience spellbound. Dan does not exactly stick to his brief and hilarity ensues. Along the way, there’s an actual Quidditch game – surprisingly fun – plus a boxing match, a musical number, a whole host of stuffed toys, cake-eating and even a Powerpoint presentation!

Like all classic comedic duos, Jeff and Dan feed off each other. If Jeff is the straight man, then Dan is his perfect foil as the funny man. What’s quite interesting is that their brand of humour manages to cut across age groups. It is physical and silly enough to appeal to the little ones and smart enough to work for the grown-ups too. Also, the duo threw in many off-the-cuff jokes and Dubai references which made it feel less rehearsed and that much more interactive.

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The stage before the show began – yes, I do think that is meant to be the Hogwarts Express.

I can’t really comment on whether the series will work for folks who aren’t familiar with HP. As a die-hard Potter fan, I’m not in the best position to be a judge of that. Certainly, I think you’ll get more of the references and jokes if you’ve read the books or watched the movies.  My son, who’s as much a Potter fan as I am, was skeptical about the whole thing at the start, and kept asking me how two guys could pull off something this ambitious by themselves. Well his loud laughter from start to finish made it evident that his question had been answered convincingly! So much so that he has agreed to accompany me to more stage performances and is willing to see it as an exciting alternative to his favourite games and movies.

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Two Harry Potter fans prepare to be entertained, and were not disappointed. 

There are some clips of their act on YouTube, but I personally would suggest not watching anything beforehand if you’re planning to catch the show. DUCTAC also requests you not to take photos or film their programmes, so I have no images from the show to share.

Apparently the team also have a show called Potted Sherlock out. I do hope they’ll bring it to Dubai – I’ll be first in line to watch it, eat your heart out Cumberbatch.