My young daughter and I sat in an outdoor patio of a cafe whose entrance was piled with desserts and pastries of every color in the rainbow, and that looked out over the calming pool below. Far below. We were on the seventh level of cafes that line the edge of the Dubai Mall, and as we sat and breathed in the air, and wondered at the slightly orange tint that a distant sand storm gave the surrounding buildings, for the first time in two weeks, we felt totally at ease.
Our trip from California to visit family in Kolkata was punctuated by the extreme opposites that you experience when traveling anywhere in India, and we had arrived in Dubai fairly well shaken. Being a woman traveling alone with a young girl had required a focused alertness that was exhausting. We were very excited to have landed in Dubai, and of course had seen the Burj Khalifa as we approached from the air. We took a pristinely clean train from the Dubai airport, exited at the great mall train stop, and walked along the never-ending corridors of moving sidewalks until we finally reached our destination and discovered a cafe where we could sit, relax, and take in this new environment. As we sat in the sun listening to the ambient music surrounding us, I felt all of the worries, the stress of travel, the concerns about anything at all, completely melt away. We sat there in wonder, experiencing together that feeling that can only be had in Dubai.
My purpose for visiting this incredible city was to connect with my Website Design client, Celebrity Persian Chef Ariana Bundy, who is opening a Persian restaurant, “Ariana’s Persian Kitchen” at the astonishing Royal Atlantis Hotel & Residences. Her Persian cuisine is infused with rose, saffron, pistachios, and will feature an amazing menu of ancient recipes. She is also renovating a 300 year old residence at a separate location to serve as a cooking school and destination inn. Her story is one that reflects the story of Dubai. It is a place where you can dream, and make those dreams come true. It is a playground for architects and developers, chefs and designers, artists and travelers, and absolutely anything that you can imagine is possible, including creating a map of the world with islands. Future Bright has been so honored to have accompanied her on this journey, and as a boutique website design agency that specializes in food, this was an incredibly special visit.
We were able to easily take Uber everywhere, and every driver we had was kind, friendly, and open to share about their origins and family. We also felt completely safe. Like most of the residents of Dubai, the drivers were all from somewhere else, which is very much like our residence in California.
Our gracious host Paul Hughes, husband and partner of Ariana Bundy, gave us a tour of the area around where we were staying, and it was simply mind-boggling to suddenly come upon another and yet another cluster of 100 skyscrapers. The construction of new buildings was happening everywhere, and it was exciting to see and imagine how they would be when they were finished based on the impossible angles that seemed to be emerging beneath towering cranes. We had dinner at Jumeirah Al Qasr, a five-star resort, and sat in a lounge overlooking the canals lined with palm trees. The entire structure was built of beautiful marble and granite. The food was incredibly flavorful, and the wine completely unfamiliar, which is disorienting and wonderful at the same time.
The always futuristic World Expo is to be held in Dubai in 2020, and construction has already begun, with countries building astonishing representations of their most creative architecture. It is tempting to list all of the details of our time spent exploring the amazing city of Dubai, but it is so much more fun to discover it yourself. We will definitely be returning, and can’t wait to taste a saffron infused ice cream from Ariana’s restaurant overlooking the salty expanse of the Persian Gulf waters.
Wendy Louise Nog is Founder and Digital Strategist for Future Bright Interactive, a website development agency based in Silicon Valley, CA.