My first stop through the middle east I was sort of picturing road side hookah shops and slippery magic carpet salesmen with a bit of a seven star backdrop. This was quickly outdone by what appears to be the long term vision of Sheik looking to have his empire echoed through the history books. They are quite literally handcrafting the sea to sky to their every desire. From the casual city side tour of a couple friends it was explained that hundreds of sky scrappers had materialized in under a decade, the sand from the ocean has been reclaimed to resemble a palm in the gulf fitted with high end villas, hotels and theme parks. The waterways are being manipulated to form islands, one of the worlds greatest Mosques, The Grand Mosque was in fact so glimmering that I had to cover my eyes with my hands & squint through the cracks just to walk across it in mid daylight. This also may have been a side effect of being likely the only four people hung over at one of the most religious sites on the planet.
The worlds biggest malls, tallest buildings, most luxurious hotels, and despite the long list of rules involving no public affection, females covering up, no alcohol and so on. I think I saw more skin on the beach then many I’ve been too, men holding hands, women holding hands, couples making out and we were invited to a several all you can drink / eat events that ended at some first class beach parties with D.J’s, hundreds of people and the flowing liquor of any clubbing establishment in the world.
The “Most Luxurious Hotel In The World”,The Burj Al Arab appears like a 3D ship sail on the ocean, with a top floor heli pad for VIPs and a heavily guarded entrance to drive in. Naturally on a camping trip through Africa where most of ones luggage is made up of khaki pants and malaria pills, you make reservations at such establishments for date night with your traveling companion. These you book months in advance, pack exactly one set of clothes with button shirts, pointy shoes and a suit jacket. Then make sure you are chauffeured to the front door, have your photos taken by the Pilipino Paparazzi and land with an Oceanside view from the 27th floor sipping drinks that could equate to one months rent.
The facts of the hotel are this: built in 1999 at a cost of $650 million USD, it holds the Guinness book for the worlds most expensive drink The “27.321” the name is comprised from the hotel being 27 floors or 321 meters and costing 27,321 Dirhams or $7500USD, made from 55 year old whiskey, served in a 18 karat gold glass and the list goes on. We opted for something equally as classy thou marginally more affordable. Like the Camel Colada, a sort of Pina Colada with a few Arabic spins like Camel milk with date and honey syrup served in an Easter Island stein. Keli opted for the Mr Big, served martin style with a blend of SKYY Citrus vodka / Sauvignon blanc / Passda Liqueur / Passion Fruit Syrup / Mandarin Syrup / Cran & Lime Juice. These ball parked around $50-$65 a drink. You can order from the snack menu or enjoy the bottomless supply of nuts and olives, they basically create anything you request and I think no less then nine people waited on us at the table and at least thirty greeted us from the way in to our last goodbyes as we were whisked away in one of the many Lexus sedan service cars at the end.
So you ask yourself, but how, how do you get through the front doors with a chuffer, savour drinks like millionaires and live it up in one of the most exclusive cites on earth. Well it’s more attainable then one would think. First off you need some super kick ass friends like we do. Enter Jason, Johanna & Rastan, between the three of them they basically hand crafted our trip. We then opted for three days on the air mattress at Jay & Jo’s place, thus offsetting the price of our drinks at the Burj Al Arab. They we’re also our chuffers to the front door, it was sort of like being dropped off for your first date by your parents as they were just as exited for us as we were. We skipped the $1000 for two dinner & $700 for two lunch and grabbed some cheese sticks from the fridge on the way over as we were a bit rushed, then ate the complimentary snacks. Lastly I was shocked to learn that the starting rate of the Lexus sedan was actually 3x less then our regular cabs starting rate from the airport, costing me $13USD for the ride home on tanned leather & 18” rims.
I justified this whole idea to myself as we were out for dinner at The Keg then drinks after this winter on a ski trip. Keg Dinner for four was about $400 and drinks after was about $175. Not a %100 comparable yet close by comparison.
Sure it wasn’t the drive through and box wine thou I’ll never forget it and would have kicked myself if I’d skipped the opportunity, its barley even the most expensive date night I’ve ever had. Shit we met over a $900 cake!
Evolving from camels to Corvettes, from Bohemians to Bentlys, for business it’s tax free, the worlds cashing in & the Aribs are cashing out. Go see the UAE empire while it’s in the glory days.