Dubai Notebook

9 February 2013

François Hollande rolled into town for the World Future Energy Summit here recently, but hardly anyone noticed. There is little enthusiasm for his thoughts on clean energy deployment. In any case, in Dubai we prefer D-list celebs to A-list politicians. Just over a year ago, Kim Kardashian brought Dubai to a virtual standstill for two days when she opened a shop called Millions of Milkshakes, and bagged £125,000 for her troubles. But that doesn’t mean politicians can’t make money here. Local media reports that Gordon Brown earned £75,000 for a speech in the UAE last year, disclosed in the Register of MPs’ Interests. Not as good as Kim’s rate, but not bad. I get a call from Sheeraz Hassan, the owner of Millions of Milkshakes. ‘You seen that story? Is that Gordon Brown bloke still famous? I’m thinking of bringing him out to Dubai, what do you think?’ he asks. ‘He would probably come,’ I reply, adding: ‘I think he’s still promoting his book Beyond the Crash: Overcoming the First Crisis of Globalisation.’ ‘No, no, no,’ says Sheeraz. ‘Nobody in Dubai gives a damn about that. I’m opening another branch of Millions of Milkshakes. The thing is Kim’s pregnant, she can’t come. There’d be 50 grand in it for him.’

To the ‘seven-star’ Burj al Arab hotel for afternoon drinks. The Skyview Bar on the 27th floor, suspended 200 metres above the ocean, has some of the best views in town — and definitely the highest prices in the world. The bar’s ‘27.321’ is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the most expensive cocktail on the planet. It is a mix of Macallan 55-year-old single malt natural colour whisky, dried fruit bitters and homemade passionfruit sugar. The resulting cocktail is then served over ice cubes made of water from the Macallan distillery in Scotland, along with an oak stirrer made from a Macallan cask. For good measure, it is presented in a Baccarat 18-carat gold glass, which the buyer gets to take home. I ask my guest, the colourful former owner of Portsmouth Football Club, Sulaiman Al Fahim, why it’s called 27.321. ‘That’s the price in UAE money – twenty-seven thousand, three hundred and twenty-one dirhams.’ Or £4,647. Just as well he orders Arabic tea.


I stop at the traffic lights in downtown Dubai, across the street from the world’s tallest building. The man in the car to my right is shouting at me. ‘What are you doing? What the hell you doing?’ he screams. I wind the window down.
‘You are driving an Audi Q5. That’s ridiculous! It’s a girl’s car! Shameless! You should be driving an Audi Q7.’
‘Thanks, but what’s it got to do with you?’ I ask.
‘I can get you a loan. In 24 hours, you could have 70,000 dollars. You could be driving an Audi Q7 by the weekend. Think about it, my friend.’ He throws his business card into my lap and speeds off. This, I should explain, is nothing unusual in a city where everyone has a job, nobody pays tax and credit is plentiful. Dubai already has full 4G: girls, gold, greed and growth.

And bizarrely, in an Arab city where less than 10 per cent of the people are locals, we all just about get on. Brits, Yanks, Aussies, Indians, South Africans, Lebanese, Russians — 180 different nationalities in total, running amok across the town. I wonder sometimes if Dubai has unwittingly created a better version of the United Nations, where everyone is bound together by the three common interests of finance, food and football. The only thing that separates us is the level of material wealth. ‘Enough’ is not a word that registers in any of the 14 major languages spoken. Sometimes it still gets to you. Later at night, as I walk into the apartment I just bought on the Palm Jumeirah, I am approached by a salesman from HSBC. I know he has been following me for some time.
‘How’s the new dream home?’
‘It’s fine, thanks.’
‘It’s not a villa, though, is it? Never too late, my friend.’
It’s never too late for anything in Dubai.

Anil Bhoyrul works for Arabian Business magazine.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • ali

    what a Pathetic article!

    • Sid

      Yes indeed…vain attempt by vainer Anil Bhoyrul to project Shiraz and Sulaiman- The Senor, of Sonapur, Dubai- as a prince 😉

  • Sue

    “where everyone has a job, no-one pays tax”!!! Anil where did you get this fairy story from? The only reason everyone has a job is if you lose your job you have no visa and have to get out immediately and what about all the “stealth” taxes there are. One could say Its La La land for adults.

    • Sid

      Sheik Sulaiman Al Fahim of Sonapur, Dubai and his wise counsel Anil Bhoyrul

  • Sid

    Sulaiman al Fahim – an expert on single malt whiskey…..May be he should be the Royal Taster of Liquor…..From 4th most powerful Arab rated by the GREAT Anil Bhoyrul himself some years back to nowhere, and now a colourful former owner of Portsmouth FC…As they say who knows what time has in store for us, more so when people like Anil Bhoyrul blow his trumpet.

    A man is known by the company he keeps applies well to Anil Bhoyrul where one should judge his intellect and caliber from his association with Sheeraz Hasan and Sulaiman Al Fahim- the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of the UAE………..what a clown

  • Sid

    It seems all the geniuses from the world like Anil Bhoyrul have moved to Dubai. When was the last time the country won a Nobel prize ? With such greats talents and the generous hosts, UAE shall top the Nobel Prize lists every year.

  • Sid

    Dubai- A better version of the United Nations. Did you not prop Sulaiman Al Fahim the question who claims to be a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador….and football- that might be from his association of Remigio Maradona of IIMSAM who is projected as a cousin of Diego Maradona- a hardcore communist who calls tax free Dubai his second home.

  • Sid

    CONGRATULATIONS on buying the apartment on Palm Jumeirah. With the IQ Anil Bhoyrul has, he shall soon be the richest journalist in the UAE. Only Arbas can get impressed by the talent that shall find no place in the UK or the US 😉

  • Danny Crouch

    How about actually doing some research and finding the amazing boutique and fresh places in Dubai. Have you ever heard of ‘Smiling BKK’ off Al Wasl Road, or eaten at the ‘Fish Shack’. Ever hung out at kite surf beach or been to ‘Deep Crates’ underground Hop Hop nights every Friday? Did you make it to Art Dubai last year or the Tiger Beer party in the car park of Media One last week, NO? Thought you’d go to The Burj Al Arab and predicably spew the same message AA Gill did for Vanity Fair a year or so ago yeah. Lazy journalism from the Spectator, bore off.

    • Sid

      What research ? Anil Bhoyrul is a journalist sans talent that is why he is so successful in the UAE; and the decision in UK throws enough light on his scruples. Some time back he was calling Sulaiman al Fahim as ‘Dr’ Sulaiman al Fahim 😉 ; and now he has simply removed the prefix but it did not stop him from scribbling an article that can make him win UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize for hardcore fiction.

  • Damian

    Very fun piece – brings the mad extravagance of Dubai to life. It made me smile, which is saying something in austerity Britain in February. Diary pieces are an art form – Anil’s is perfect. I think some of the other commenters may take themselves/life a little too seriously!

    • Sid

      Anil and perfect… wonder only UAE can appreciate his perfection in journalism and he is so successful in the UAE. The decision in the UK only throws enough
      light on his scruples and perfection. Some time back he was referring to Sulaiman al Fahim as ‘Dr’ Sulaiman al Fahim 😉 ; and now he has simply removed the prefix
      but it did not stop him from scribbling an article that can make him
      win UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize for hardcore fiction.

  • BretEastonWaugh

    “And bizarrely, in an Arab city where less than 10 per cent of the people are locals, we all just about get on. Brits, Yanks, Aussies, Indians, South Africans, Lebanese, Russians.”
    Does that include the thousands of Indian slave workers as well or just the second rate expats who can´t get the good jobs in the City or on Wall Street?

  • Sharon

    Thoroughly enjoyed this piece. A witty take on the excess that is Dubai.

    • Sid

      You have an inherent talent to become an excellent lifestyle journalist….May be you decided not to put it into action for your tremendous love of humanity like Mother Teresa.

      • Beth

        I think Sid needs a girlfriend.

        • Sid

          Well, I shall not having an affinity for a thinking one from the Elizabethan era of contemporary times who has cliches as her foibles. Would you mind meeting over a cup of tea.

  • Muttley

    How can Al Fahim be wrong, in 2008-2009, Sulaiman Al Fahim was awarded a special Doctoral degree by the great Anil Bhoyrul himself……

  • Sid

    ah..Senorita Beth, you did not respond. I do not mind your classy preference for Anil, Sheeraz and Sulaiman al Fahim- The Senor of Sonapur, Dubai, UAE

Can't find your Web ID? Click here