We know the super-rich live in luxury, that’s not exactly a surprise. Lounging on yachts the size of small gated communities, nibbling caviar with six-figure price tags, partying at members-only clubs and dropping serious dirhams at designer stores all comes at the swipe of a black Amex.
According to research by Oxfam, the number of billionaires (US$) worldwide totalled 1,645 people by March 2014, which has increased from 793 billionaires in March 2009. Of this, there are approximately eight in the UAE according to Forbes’ annual global billionaires data for 2014. So from a population of around nine million in the UAE, only a lucky few can actually ever live the super-high life.
But spare a moment for those cash-soaked souls, because it’s not all easy-going being rich. How can the person who has everything really impress? Forget treating your lady to a haute couture dress, or a bespoke suitcase for him, gold iPhone cases are a dime a dozen and with Dubai Police driving around in Ferraris and Lamborghinis, the attraction of a supercar has even become boring. The luxury market is shifting, and while there are still members-only services offered at hotels, and VIP entrances and elevators to ensure privacy for the wealthy, most of these options are open to almost anyone who can afford it.
So with the air of exclusivity slowly fading away, the rich seem to be willing to pay almost any price for outstanding service and experiences. With that in mind, we take a look at some inventive ways to splash your cash.
Restaurant-hop by helicopter
Eating at Michelin-starred restaurants is no longer exciting for some. Why would it be when you can take a helicopter ride to various restaurants in one evening? As part of the Dubai Food Festival, you can start the evening with a limousine pick-up from anywhere in Dubai and head to one of the emirate’s flagship hotels for an insider tour of some of its suites, with courses served in two different restaurants. Guests will then be taken to the helipad for a flight to another exclusive hotel where they will enjoy their final course under an aquarium, before returning home in style in the
Dhs9,120 per person (for three couples only). February 14. www.limeandtonic.ae Have someone pen your autobiography
For an ego-boosting gift, why not treat someone to a custom-made autobiography. Everyone from Richard Branson to Martha Stewart have penned their life’s tales – and rightly so when you are the seventh richest person in the UK or have a net worth of an estimated US$970million (Dhs3.5 billion), as does Martha, you’ve probably earned the right to brag. www.myspecialbook.com will compile your memoir. Just tell them your life story and they’ll take six to ten months to research and compile your autobiography. And with prices as high as Dhs550,970, let’s hope it’s a bestseller.
From US$50,000-150,000 (Dhs183,657-550,970). www.myspecialbook.com.
Dig out a truly unique name
Gone are the days of inheriting your father or grandmother’s name. With more and more parents calling their kids Apple, North and Bunny, it’s prompted one Swiss company, Erfolgswelle, to offer a new solution to those who can afford the Dhs115,500 price tag for it. The company will create a unique, unheard of name by using a team of 13 copywriters with guidance from children’s name specialists. Historians will check to ensure that the name has no negative connotations and translators will make sure the name isn’t in use in another country or language.
Command your own country
Rule your own country and be president, prime minister and royalty all in one –well, at least unofficially – by purchasing one of Dubai’s man-made islands on The World. In 2012, Arabian Business reported that an island located in the Asia archipelago had an initial asking price of Dhs105 million for 36,661 sq m. Due to property inflation, that price has no doubt increased substantially. Those who can’t afford to purchase an actual island can always take a day trip to ‘Lebanon’ at the Royal Island Beach Club (www.royalislandbeachclub.ae) and bask in its lush facilities, which include swimming pools, a restaurant and private chalets.
Dhs300 per person (including boat transfer and facilities). Open daily 11am-11pm. The World Islands.
Get Gordon Ramsay in your kitchen
Eating in a restaurant that’s simply owned and run by a famous Michelin-starred chef just isn’t impressive enough for some. They want the real deal, in private – and in many cases, money talks. Several UK- and US-based agencies can help you book household names, from Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay to Food Network favourites Guy Fieri and Geoffrey Zakarian, on a price-upon-enquiry basis. With the likes of Ramsay commanding more than Dhs139,000 for a speaking engagement in the UK (according to figures released by London agency JLA in 2013), it’s probably no exaggeration to assume that flying the fiery chef (and his entourage) to the Middle East (first class of course) to cater a private dinner is going to set you back more than double that.
Have a department store run around after you
Make like Beyoncé and channel your inner diva – and put your favourite store on lockdown. While some celebrities like to close down an entire store or mall just for them, others are happy to occupy the private shopping section. Beyoncé is reported to have spent three hours shopping at Topshop on London’s Oxford Street last year, according to The Sun newspaper. Harvey Nichols Dubai isn’t quite willing to permit you to close down the entire store, but it will secure the private shopping area for you at an undisclosed fee. Past clients have included Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Price on request (includes VIP lift entrance, private dining, beauty treatments and a security team).
Hold a soiree on the Burj Al Arab’s helipad
The Burj Al Arab’s helipad is well known for the various sporting events held on it. In 2005, Roger Federer and Andre Agassi took tennis to new heights when they played a friendly match on it and Rory McIlroy concluded the 2011 golf season when he teed off from it. Now, guests can hold their wedding on the famous helipad, 212 metres above the Arabian Gulf.
From Dhs200,000. www.jumeirah.com
Have Chris Brown sing to you
Ever fancied having your favourite artist or band perform for you? With Heavy Rotation, a talent booking agency with offices in Dubai, you can book artists, celebrities and DJs to come to your private event. French Montana, Chris Brown and Wiz Khalifa will all happily play for you, or Paris Hilton will DJ at your birthday. US-based booking agencies say that stars such as Drake and Ed Sheeran can set you back US$300,000-500,000 (Dhs1.1 million-1.8 million), while John Legend will serenade you for no less than US$150,000 (Dhs550,996). Exactly how long these appearances last is unclear. Sadly the prices aren’t within our budget, so for now we’ll just throw on a CD.
Prices on request. Heavy Rotation, www.hrbooking.com
Upgrade to a ruby-encrusted smartphone
Phones these days aren’t just for calling, texting and emailing. They’re about making a statement. Gemfields and Savelli – the Swiss luxury atelier – has launched a collection of limited-edition smartphones called Ruby Mystery, which feature 395 brilliant-cut rubies set in 18-carat white gold with a black alligator back cover. There are only 20 available, and they’re so exclusive, they won’t even tell us the cost.
Prices on request. www.gemfields.co.uk
Hire a club – and then some
Enjoy the VIP treatment by hiring out a club for the night. Skip the queues, request your favourite songs, and rule the dancefloor in style. Arianna Gandola, group event manager at Bulldozer Group, which handles VIP Room Dubai and Movida, says that its clubs can’t be rented out for anything less than Dhs50,000. The clubs are also happy to cater to unusual and elaborate requests. Gandola says, ‘During the F1 this year, one customer sent a Dhs80,000 bottle to Kim Kardashian just to take a picture with her, while another customer wanted to arrive by helicopter to avoid the traffic, so we had to arrange ‘parking’ for that.’ In the past, the club has gone above and beyond (for an undisclosed fee) for a customer who wanted Will Smith to perform at their private table. So if you happen to have access to a giant vault housing hundreds of thousands of dirhams, you too could be singing with the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
A Night of Prestige
Rub shoulders with high society in Dubai at this classy event taking place at the Madinat Jumeirah on Thursday February 26. In a luxurious tribute to the arts, A Night of Prestige will offer the unique opportunity to see artworks from Picasso and Buffet at a gallery exhibition, view the De Beers Talisman Crown jewellery collection and enjoy a four-course fine dining menu. Entertainment includes the Kiev City Ballet’s world premiere performance (that includes highlights from famous classical and modern ballet), a live orchestra and a tenor and soprano performance.
Dhs2,550-2,850 per person. 7pm-midnight. February 26. Jawhara Ballroom, Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (052 803 2800).