Located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates; it is also the most progressive amongst them all. With more than three fourths of its population foreign born, the city has the most cosmopolitan vibe of all the ones in this part of the world.
The summer season from May to August sees the temperatures soar and drives everyone to the airconditioned comfort of their homes, offices and malls. Winter is the best time to visit when the days are warm and nights see a pleasant drop on the thermostat.
Located at the edge of the desert, it seems like Dubai has sprouted out of the dry sandy land that once was. Trade and infrastructure development have driven its economy to the point where it competes with the best in the world.
Art Of Living
XVA is one of the leading art galleries of the Middle-East. It showcases contemporary works from the Arab region and parts of the sub-continent, giving space to both established as wellas emerging artists.
With a setting like that, the XVA Art Hotel has much to live up to and the aesthetics are as important here as the comfort factor. Located in the historical neighbourhood of Al Fahidi, XVA is housed in the original structure that served as a family home.
Three well-shaded courtyards make up the core of the house and provide for a number of tranquil spots to relax in. Three of the original wind towers, the starlit rooftop and minimal changes to the original structure lend an historic feel to the Hotel.
The rooms are located around the courtyards and all 13 are decorated as per individual themes inspired by local traditions and culture – like the Henna Room or the Gutra suite or the Dishdash Room, to name a few. Each room is done up in its own unique style but minimalism seems to be the keyword across the board.
Works of art occupy a place of pride both in the rooms as well as the common areas.The concept store in the Hotel also makes for an interesting visit with artefacts from across the Middle East available here.
Small gleaming tiles in turquoise blue and yellow combine together to form intricate patterns across the walls and the arched ceiling high above. An ornate brass chandelier suspended from the ceiling completes the look and for a few moments you imagine yourself in a mosque in Persia. But, the gentle whirring of the barista draws your attention to the ‘Starbucks Coffee’ booth under the arch.
Divided into 6 zones – India, Persia, China, Andulasia, Tunisia and Egypt, the Ibn Batuta Mall showcases all the regions explored by the traveler Ibn Batuta. From the elephant with the ornate carriage to the lioness fountain, a replica of the original at the Alhambra to the souk-like ambience of Tunisia and the changing colour palette from region to region – clearly, God is in the details here.
Stairway To Heaven
Peaking far above the global skyline, at 2722 feet tall, the Burj Khalifa looks like it could indeed be scraping the sky. While it is an ultramodern building, a closer look reveals the elements of Islamic art incorporated into it. Broad at the base and tapering as it rises up, the basic design is reminiscent of the minarets that sit atop mosques.
Viewed from the top, it looks like a three-petalled flower, again a reference to islamic art. Considering the staggering height of the structure, it was important to emphasise on the engineering as much as the aesthetics. A buttressed core with three wings has been developed to ensure that the height does not compromise the stability of the tallest man-made structure in the world.
Fishing For Compliments
The deep red and black interiors of the Nobu restaurant appear understated compared to the ostentatious interiors of Atlantis The Palm within which it sits, but it is dramatic nevertheless. Bamboo frames roll from ceiling to the floor, carved so fine that their fluidity evokes a sense of being submerged under an ocean wave.
While wrought-iron columns hand-carved with motifs of flowers, leaves and buds connect the restaurant to its Middle-Eastern location, the large photographs of cherry blossoms bring in the Japanese touch to help sync the restaurant with its cuisine. The sushi bar is another standout feature with its white backdrop providing a stunning contrast to the black bamboo terrazzo. The design concept of Nobu manages to connect all the elements into one well-crafted story.
Text By Himali Kothari