Okay, Dubai, we get it. Things tend to be bling when you’re making the rules. We’ve got golden iPads in hotel rooms, an entire gold souk and gold dust sprinkled on cappuccinos. Don’t even get us started on the Dhs25,000 golden facial treatment at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. If you’ve not got that much money to spare, however, we suggest just the one bar of bullion from the gold vending machines.
9 Cupcake madness
So strong is the love of gold here that chefs even make cupcakes out of it. At Dhs3,700, the Golden Phoenix cupcake from Bloomsbury bakery is the world’s most expensive, crafted from premium Italian chocolate, Ugandan vanilla beans and fine organic flour. Oh, and edible gold sheets on top, as well. We’ve heard of counting calories before, but never karats.
8 Shark-infested water slides
Faster, higher, splashier – water slide designers must have thought their job was more or less straightforward. Then some bright spark had the idea of sending a slide out through shark-infested waters in a mythology-themed park. Never mind that it is an Atlantis (Greek mythology) park and the slide comes out of the Tower of Neptune (Roman mythology), this is a water slide that speeds through a shark lagoon. What do you want, a classics lesson or crazy attractions with sharks?
Walk the malls or scan the skyline and you will soon see that Dubai likes to do things big. We’re used to that now and have come to accept it. But we still get dizzy, and a little bit alarmed, every time we see The Beast Burger at Claw BBQ. The city’s biggest burger weighs in at around 2.5 kg and is only slightly smaller than a human baby. Completing the 45-minute challenge to finish it and the extra portion of chilli cheese fries is a total extravagance, and looking back, we probably didn’t need the Oreo cookie milkshake as well.
6 Man-made islands
Reclaimed land and artificial islands are not exactly new. Deciding to add 320 miles of coastland to a city by designing and building a giant palm tree and decorating it with dozens of skyscrapers and five-star hotels is just another level. As for the neighbouring The World archipelago, well, it’s out of this world.
5 Kopi luwak coffee
The “world’s most expensive coffee” has quite a ring to it and when we were told it has a taste of camel, jungle mango and chocolate, we jumped at the chance to try it in Souk Al Bahar’s Icons Coffee Couture. It was only when we discovered the drink is made from the droppings of a rare Indonesian cat did we wonder if this pursuit of extravagance might have gone too far. Brings a whole new meaning to the expression “one lump or two”.
4 Cracking fireworks
Having grown up in wonder of once-a-year firework shows consisting of little more than a sparkler and a few muted bangs, we’re blown away by the multimillion dollar displays of Dubai. Strapping US$6million worth of fireworks to a near-kilometre-tall skyscraper wouldn’t occur to everybody, but in record-breaking Dubai, it is an annual occurrence.
3 Everyday supercars
When mall car parks look like a luxury vehicle showroom you know petrolheads are going to be in for a treat in Dubai. But nothing quite prepares a visitor for the volume of stretched Hummers, bright pink limousines and Rolls-Royce taxis. Most striking of all, though, remain the police cars. A fleet including a Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4, Bentley Continental and Ferrari FF mean the cops are never likely to be outrun.
2 Sweet suites
In Dubai, where the average summer temperature hovers well above 40°C, you can stay in a hotel suite with ski slope views at the Kempinski Mall of the Emirates. Stop and think about that for a second. Actually don’t, it will make your head hurt. Instead contemplate the underwater suites with views of 65,000 sea creatures in Atlantis The Palm or the 17 different types of pillow on offer at the Burj Al Arab, and accept that Dubai has some insane hotels.
1 Luxury cinema snacks
How do you like your popcorn? Sweet, salted or Michelin-starred? Dubai’s newest cinema, Vox Mall of The Emirates, is taking the already absurdly swish Gold class movie-watching experience to the next level. Food is served in the Gary Rhodes’ ThEATre and includes foie gras paninis and lamb and date fritters, plus menus inspired by the blockbuster being shown. Chewbaklava when the new Star Wars film comes out, anybody?
Will Milner is a regular contributor. He likes the simple things in life.