FORM Hotel

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

A dozen of Hotels are sprawling up in Dubai. However, only a few of them are well designed with an affordable price tag. With the introduction of FORM Hotel, this is certainly going to change.

Where is the FORM Hotel located?

Sited in the Dubai Cultural Village, in Al Jaddaf area, the FORM hotel is the first member of the Design Hotels collection. Launched by the UAE Based Smartotels in May 2018, the FORM Hotel brand features a technologically-advanced and socially responsible design.

The hotel is in proximity to the Dubai Design District, Dubai International Airport, and the World Trade Centre. The metro station- Al Jaddaf Marine Metro Station (Green Line) is a 2-minute walking distance from the Hotel. If you are new to Dubai, you can refer to our guide on How to Use the Dubai Metro.

What is the Design of the FORM Hotel?

FORM Hotel’s 143 key flagship, 15 storey property is developed by Dubai Contracting Company (DCC). It is designed by a Paris-based global architectural firm, Architecture-Studio. The façade relives the origins of Dubai’s heritage. The extruding frames etched with contemporary calligraphy are a telling example.

Inside, the rooms have custom crafted art and photography by Nina Dietzel. This makes the interiors look understated yet sharp interior that is at once timeless and contemporary.

What makes the FORM hotel unique?

The FORM Hotel offers the business and leisure travellers a concept hotel which is focussed on health and fitness. As per the founder of Smartotels, Tarek Daouk the brand emphasis on healthy habits and the Hotel will not serve alcohol. 

 

The Hotel is smoke free right through. The hotel believes that between you and your workout, there should be nothing except a magnificent view. Therefore, they have a fitness centre on the rooftop. Furthermore, there is a half Olympic size infinity swimming pool at the rooftop. The pool offers views of the Al Jaddaf Boatyards.

The rooms are very basic and just focus on what travellers need. The brand has five essential built-in offers: a custom-crafted luxury bed, walk-in high-pressure rain shower, complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, 49-inch HDTV with Google Chromecast, and a complimentary breakfast. They are also spic and span clean. 

The FORM Hotel provides a range of add on features which you can select according to your needs when you book your room. Their website is very simple and straight forward to use. After you select the room of your choice ranging from Mega, Ideal King, Ideal Queen or Cozy Single room, you can even select the floor of your choice.

The addons are for a range of tastes, varying from architecture tour, private yoga sessions, babysitters, curated cultural tours, art tours and foodie tours! You can also add on for a butler service or an airport pick up and drop off. FORM’s curated cultural tour walks you through the oldest neighbourhood of the city, Bastakiya while the Art Tour takes you through the art hubs and galleries in Alserkal Avenue.

The Hotel will also offer a ‘co.lab space’, Form’s creative zone aimed at nurturing smart business. Concept boutique by FORM is a unique and cool hotel shop with very nice items selection

Which are the restaurants at the FORM hotel?

The hotel presents a wellness-driven concept throughout, most prominently in its three food and beverage outlets. While the menu is wholesome and crafted from sustainably sourced ingredients, it is definitely healthy.

The Roots Kitchen by Parlour is the healthy dining option with vegan and gluten-free items on the menu catering to those with special dietary requirements. Then there’s wrap counter at Concept Boutique. You can find handmade healthy wraps, signature sandwiches and the freshest salads available here 24/7. Then there is the Salũs Housetop for easy evenings.

They also have the concept of in room pour over coffee. Instead of a boring capsule coffee machine, the Hotel has an exciting in-room pour-over coffee kit. It comes with freshly-ground premium coffee. You can create your own barista-styled brewing experience.

What do we love the most about FORM Hotel?

While there is not much to do in the immediate neighbourhood itself, the hotel is at a great location because of the metro connectivity at about 100 metres. You can easily dodge the traffic and reach the Hotel.

The hotel comes with a sleek and clean design. With more emphasis on a healthy living, the Hotel is a no frills and a good bang for your buck. It has most of the essential features as an addon.

With a concept as unique as this and a great friendly staff, we are sure you would love to stay here and keep your Instagram feed updated!

Top 10 UAE Books

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

There are many ways to learn about a city. You can take a walking tour, watch a news report, or talk to locals. Another way to learn is by reading books. Luckily, there is an extensive collection of literature on Dubai and the rest of the UAE. In this post, we’ll share our Top 10 UAE Books.

The Emirates by the First Photographers

This outstanding photography book provides a visual history guide of the earliest days of the United Arab Emirates. It covers the country from 1900 to 1962. It encompasses when the region was a collection of independent Sheikhdoms to the discovery of oil. Therefore, it talks about the official founding of the United Arab Emirates. One can see the rapid progress that the country has gone through this book.. The author, William Facey, provides insightful historical context to each of the images. The book’s archivist, Gillian Grant, provides understanding from a photography perspective.

An Amazing Nation

This book provides a detailed yet easy to understand look at the inner workings of the UAE. It touches on topics such as the structure of the federal government, the flora and fauna of the region. It also talks about the demographics of the population and the geography of the coastlines. It’s a great way to get an encyclopaedic look at the different facets that make up the country.

Telling Tales – An Oral History of Dubai

Before Dubai became the glittering metropolis of today, it was once a humble fishing village bordered by great dunes. In this book, BBC Gulf Correspondent Julia Wheeler has collected tales from the early local inhabitants of the UAE. It offers a fascinating look into what everyday life was like for the everyday people of the city. The tales in the book are accompanied by introspective portraits of citizens who have shared their story. This adds a poignant dimension to the book.

Emirati Women: Generations of Change

This book was written by an anthropologist, Jane Bristol-Rhys. She has interviewed three generations of Emirati women. She interviewed the grandmothers who raised their children in the poverty of the UAE’s early days, the middle-aged women who witnessed the biggest changes in the UAE first hand and the young women who grew up surrounded by the wealth of a thriving and oil-rich country. The book provides an insight into the benefits and disadvantages that the changes the UAE has gone through has had on its women. It’s a unique look at the people that some say are the backbone of the country.

The Trucial States

This book was published in 1970, a year before the UAE was officially founded. It was written by Donald Hawley, a British diplomat who was working in the Gulf during that time. He worked closely with the ruling Sheiks as they established the United Arab Emirates. This book provides an inside look at the wheeling and dealing that goes into founding a nation. It is a scintillating read both politically and historically.

My Vision: Challenges in the Race for Excellence

This book was co-authored by the ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. As the man who spearheaded the emirate’s push into the 21st century, and the one credited for diversifying the city’s economy, Sheikh Mohammed has plenty of valuable insights into what it takes to build a strong future. The book is contains recollections from his childhood. It also shows examinations of his feats as a ruler and insight into his personal ethos. This book is a way to get into the mind of a visionary ruler who built an extraordinary city.

From Rags to Riches: A story of Abu Dhabi

Mohammed Al Fahim, the writer of this book, is a UAE businessman. He tells the story of the growth seen in Abu Dhabi from the 1950s to the 1990s. He knew the poverty stricken life of the Bedouins in the harsh climate of the Gulf. Mohammed witnessed the rapid transformation of the emirate into one of the richest places in the world. Al Fahim is very frank in his recollections. He allows readers to get a true glimpse into the past from the perspective of one of the emirate’s own citizens. The book was first published in 1995. This book is now available in multiple languages including English, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Urdu.

Dubai: Architecture and Design

Dubai is a city famed for its striking skyscrapers. From the Burj Al Arab, crafted to resemble a sail on the sea, to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, the city is one that pushes architecture to its limits. This book provides insight into how these famous buildings were built. It also shows how they have worked to incorporate Middle Eastern culture into their designs. The book encompasses both the traditional architecture of the past. It focused on beating the heat, to the modern architecture of today, which is made to dazzle. While the book speaks on a specialized subject, it is written so even those unfamiliar with the fundamental principals of architecture can enjoy it.

Keepers of the Golden Shore: A History of the United Arab Emirates

This book traces the history of the United Arab Emirates, from pre-history to the present day. From the days of the Ottoman Empire to the struggles of the pre-oil period to the founding of the modern nation, author Michael Quentin Morton provides a clear-cut view of the past that still shapes the Emirates today. Unlike some of the other books on this list, the narrative here is not a personal history but a broader examination. Nevertheless, the book is eminently readable, playing more like an adventure story than a history book.

Uncommon Dubai

Uncommon Dubai, edited by Hind Shoufani, goes beyond the trite and provides a look at the city’s true culture. Shoufani has collected musings, advice and stories from a variety of contributors, both local and expatriate. Together, they combine to showcase the hidden sides of the city. This book is a great purchase for tourists and the beautiful photos make it a great souvenir as well.

 

There is great power in stories – they can provide illumination in all things. This reading list is just the start of opportunities to learn more about the UAE. We hope you get a chance to check out some of our suggestions on Top 10 UAE Books.

Top Dubai Websites

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

Dubai is a city where something is always happening. Luckily, there are ways to keep on top of it all. Here is our list of the top Dubai websites giving you the inside track of Dubai’s events and attractions.

Visit Dubai

This site is an absolute gold mine for any tourist coming to Dubai. Dubai’s Department of Tourism runs this site.. The entire website full of quality information that any visitor to Dubai will find helpful. Here, you’ll find overviews of various Dubai attractions, tips on planning your vacation, information about cultural norms and access to a variety of discounts. One of our favourite features of the site is the Dubai Calendar. It is a comprehensive listing of various events happening in Dubai. The events are sorted into categories of Business, Leisure and Experience, if you want to browse by topic. If you’re feeling spontaneous, however, you can also type in a specific date and just see which events will be going on and what attractions will be open. Visit Dubai and Dubai Calendar also have their own apps, so you can take their information with you when on the go. It’s a great way to stay informed as you explore the city. We absolutely recommend downloading it for the duration of your stay as it is one of the top Dubai websites.

What’s On

What’s On is one of the major websites for information. It covers food, beverage, hospitality and entertainment in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. You can also find the print version in most major supermarkets in the UAE. Here, you’ll find lists of things to do, hotel and restaurant reviews, advice on sales and news articles of interest. The publication is particularly famous for hosting the ‘What’s On’ Awards, a series of accolades celebrating the best of Dubai. These prizes range from ‘Favorite Indian Restaurant’ to ‘Favorite Nail Bar’. This variety of awards is a great indicator of how closely the publication follows the pulse of the city. If you want to learn more about a new restaurant or need some ideas for cultural events to check out this month, give this website a place of pride in your bookmarks tab.

Insydo

Insydo is an online publication with a plethora of great information on Dubai.  The name is a play on the term “Inside Dubai”. The website explores multiple facets of visiting and living in the city. This website it provides information for people interested in having a well-rounded social calendar. Instead of focusing solely on glitzy art shows and gourmet restaurants, the website also gives information on more everyday activities such as fitness classes and kid’s events. The site is very neatly organized by category and subcategory. Therefore, it is easy to navigate. This website also has a stronger emphasis on fun video content. If you’re someone who prefers watching to reading then this might be the best avenue to learn about the trends and events hitting Dubai.

Time Out Dubai

The Time Out group of publications is intended to help people ‘make the most of a city.’  Time Out Dubai hosts tons of information on where to eat, where to go and what to do. The website has a great search feature, allowing for the use of great customization features. If you want to go out for a budget Asian brunch in Dubai Marina, you can use the search feature to find exactly that. Furthermore, Time Out has its own City Card, which allows those who sign up for it get access to great deals when out and about in the city.

Gulf News

Gulf News is the online portal of the city’s major daily newspaper. Unlike most of the other publications on this list, it does not have a focus on tourism and events. While it does have a section for leisure and life & style, the website primarily provides articles on global and local affairs in politics, business and other current events. We recommend checking it out to get a good view of the city’s own perspective of the world around us.

We have been featured on the Gulf News Tabloid for two years consecutively. In 2017, our signature tour, The Old Dubai Walking Tour was featured for being one of the top Walking Tours in the city. This year, Our Art Tour also made it on the list of the five paths of discovering the city on foot along with the Old Dubai Walking Tour.

Feature of Dubai By Foot in Gulf News Tabloid (print version) 2018

 

In today’s day and age, there are plenty of ways to keep track of everything that’s going on in Dubai. We hope you found this list of top Dubai websites useful when planning your next outing. And if you’re still looking for something to do then why not check out one of our walking tours?

Ladies Night in Dubai

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

Whether you are looking to unwind after a long day or jump-start a fun weekend, getting together with a group of your girlfriends is a great way to go. And while constantly going out can eat into your budget, there are certainly ways to save. Dubai’s restaurants and clubs provide a variety of fun Ladies Nights offerings, allowing women to go out and enjoy themselves without breaking the bank. Below, we’ve listed our topic picks for Ladies Night in Dubai every day of the week.

Monday

Cavalli club is easily one of the hottest nightclubs in Dubai. The renowned Italian fashion designer, Roberto Cavalli, known for creating daring looks collaborated to design this club. Artists who’ve performed here include Sean Paul and Akon, while celebrity guests have included Will Smith and Jennifer Lopez. For the club’s Leave Your Boyfriend at Home Ladies Night, women enjoy unlimited drinks all night long, as well as access to a special ladies night three course menu for only AED 150. To keep you dancing all night long, the music is contemporary. So come with your boogie shoes on.

Tuesday

Bar Rumba is a recently opened Latin hotspot at the Westin Mina Seyahi.  The bright and colourful décor, featuring eye-catching florals and vintage Havana posters, and the rhythmic music, is sure to put you in a party mood from the moment you set foot inside. Its Tuesday Ladies Night offers an unusual combination of free flowing wine and champagne paired with your choice of NYC-style hotdog. It might seem strange at first, but the fattiness of a hotdog actually pairs very well with champagne, making for an evening that’s both playful and delicious. You can even get creative, swapping the traditional hot dog bun with an activated charcoal one and choosing from a wide range of toppings. Women get a hotdog voucher upon entry and afterwards they are only 30 AED each.

 

Wednesday

Gotha is one of the trendiest new nightclub destinations in Dubai. The area itself is massive, with over three floors and a 14,000 sq. ft. floor space. However, the vibe is very exclusive, with the club constantly announcing that it is hosting global artists (Diddy and Ludacris are among two of the previous guests). The music at the club is a mix of contemporary R&B combined with classics of the genre. The drinks at the club are pretty expensive, which is why  we recommend taking advantage of its Ladies Night offering – women receive free drinks every Wednesday from 11pm-1am.  And if you’re really loving the style there, the club has its own exclusive fashion store inside, La Boutique, selling urban T-shirts, hoodies and jackets for both men and women. One of our favourite Ladies night in Dubai.

Thursday

Atlantis the Palm is one of the most luxurious hotels in the city and its Chinese restaurant Yuan offers one of the most elegant ladies nights around. Yi by Yuan takes its name from the Chinese word for joy and harmony, and ladies who stop by between 8:30pm and 11:00pm are certain to feel the love. From a special rotating menu that features both classic cocktails and mixologist concoctions, Women choose their free drinks. What is more, they can also enjoy 30% off from a specially curated menu – dishes included tiger prawns with wasabi mayo and steamed buns stuffed with wagyu beef. While you are sipping your cocktail and nibbling your starter, you can sit back and enjoy a variety of music, from dance-worthy disco tracks spun by the in-house DJ to the dulcet melody of a live violinist.

Friday

Friday night ladies nights can be rare, but Maison Rouge has a unique and exciting offering. The venue is located at the Conrad Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road and it offers the chance to watch a breath-taking show while dining on gastronomic delights.  The area itself is very posh, with red velvet décor, crystal chandeliers and a well-lit stage. The stage welcomes several different international artists throughout the night, each giving a unique live performance – whether dancing, playing music or performing magic tricks. The food itself is quite the production as well, with many of the menu items cleverly incorporating molecular gastronomy. And to add a cherry on top of this experience, on Fridays women can enjoy complimentary drinks up until midnight.

Saturday

On Saturdays, why not get your song on at Lucky Voice. There is a popular karaoke bar at the Grand Millennium Hotel Tecom in Barsha Heights. The singing itself takes place in private karaoke pods, so only your friends will bear witness to your rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” Outside the pods, there is a great club atmosphere with a spacious dance floor, pulsating neon rainbow lights and a DJ playing funk classics. Ladies visiting on Saturday night receive four complimentary beverages from a selection of cocktails, wine and mixers. They also receive 20% off the dining menu, should they work up an appetite after attempting the Beyoncé ‘Single Ladies’ dance.

Sunday

Want to stretch out your weekend? Well the Gossip Sundays Ladies Night at Bazxar in DIFC is just the way to do that! The funky venue is a cross between a market, restaurant and wine bar. It allows for a great atmosphere to catch up with your lady friends. Women who stop by on Sunday between 8pm and 11pm can enjoy three free drinks when they order one of the signature dishes or sharing platters. Our personal favourite is the cleverly named Naughty Platter. It offers a combination of Trash-can Nachos, Chicken Pot Stickers and Dynamite Shrimp. What is more, in addition to the free drinks, women can enjoy 25% off the rest of their bill for the night!

 

Sometimes, it’s really good to be a girl. With the offers above, you and your friends will never have to worry about staying at home alone any night of the week. Enjoy these ladies night in Dubai. With the plenty of offers available, ladies can get out to sing, dance, eat, and drink while enjoying the some of hottest venues in the city at some of the best prices.

Top Ten Arabic Words

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

Dubai is a melting pot. Step outside and you’ll hear people speaking in English, French, Russian, Hindi, Urdu, Swahili and a dozen other languages from all over the world. However, the true language of the Emirati people is Arabic. If you want to get around in Dubai, it’s helpful to know a few basic Arabic phrases. Here is our guide to Top Ten Arabic Words to help you in the UAE.

Greetings

The formal way to greet someone in Arabic is Assalam Alaikum, which means “Peace be with you.” It’s the phrase you would use when greeting a business colleague, a teacher, an elderly person or anyone else you would like to be particularly respectful of. The response to this phrase is Walaikum Assalam, which means “and to you peace.” If you would prefer a more casual greeting, there are many words in Arabic for hello. The most common words are Marhaba and Ahlan, which can be used as hello or welcome interchangeably. A tourist newly arrived in Dubai will likely hear those words used as they enter the country and encounter the famous Arabian hospitality. Definitely the first of the Top Ten Arabic words to help you in the UAE.

You can also use greetings based on the time of day. In English, people who hear these sorts of greetings usually just repeat them back – so someone who hears
“Good morning” responds by saying “Good morning” back. In Arabic, the response is a continuation of the original greeting. Sabah Al Khayr is “good morning” and the response to that is Sabah Al Noor, which means “a morning of light.”

How are you?

In Arabic, you sometimes need to alter your speech based on whether you are addressing a man or a woman. When asking ‘how are you?’ there is a slight difference in pronunciation depending on whom you are addressing. When asking a man, you say Kayf Halak and when addressing a woman, you say Kayf Halik. The response to this is usually Zayn, Al Hamdu Lillah, which means “Fine, praise be to God.”

What is your name?

The people of Dubai are very friendly, especially to tourists. You’ll likely be meeting many new people and introducing yourself to them throughout your journey. To ask someone his or her name, say Ma Ismakh. You can reciprocate by saying Ismii…, which means “My name is….”

Yes and No

These simple words are a great way for you to participate in an Arabic conversation even if you don’t have much to say.  Yes is Na’am and No is La.

God willing

You’ll often hear the phrase Insha’Allah peppered into conversations in Dubai, even in conversations taking place in English. The phrase simply means ‘God willing’ or ‘by the grace of God.’ It is a way of acknowledging that we do not have full control over our own fate. For example, someone might say, “I’ll have it ready by tomorrow, insha’allah,” in order to speak about their own plans while still acknowledging that unforeseen circumstances could arise.

I don’t understand

For a tourist in a new country, it’s important to be able to admit to your limitations. If you’re struggling to comprehend what someone is speaking, try saying La Afham, which simply means, “I don’t understand.”

I am lost

This is definitely another useful phrase for a tourist. Ada’tu tareeqi means “I am lost.” If you do get lost when in Dubai, don’t be overtly worried. You’ll find the people here are extremely friendly and they will usually be happy to help a tourist get their bearings.

Please and Thank you

Mind your manners! Please in Arabic is MinFadlak and thank you is Shukran. Why not try using these words the next time you are ordering a meal at a restaurant or purchasing something from a store? It’s sure to make your transaction go smoother.

How much?

Dubai is a city that celebrates shopping, whether it’s in a glitzy mall or in a crowded souk. By saying Kam Ath-Thaman you can inquire about the cost of an item, to help you as you bargain.

Knowing a little bit of the local language can help you a lot when visiting a new country. We hope you’ve found this guide to Top Ten Arabic words to help you in the UAE helpful. Give the language a try and soon you’ll be signing up to learn even more!

Dubai Emaar Public Art Work

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

Dubai has a fine collection of art galleries, displaying luxurious works of art from all corners of the globe. Visitors to Dubai can wander their polished halls or take a more in-depth look through one of our Art Tours. However, for visitors who want to see the art of the city as a part of the city, they should look no further than Downtown Dubai’s Emaar Boulevard. The area is host to a collection of fine public artworks specially commissioned to truly capture the spirit of the city. In this post, we’ll describe some of the most eye-catching pieces of Dubai Emaar Public Art Work.

100 colours100 colours

This is one of the newer pieces on the boulevard and certainly one of the biggest. It was created by French artist Emmanuelle Moureaux and it spans across 1km of the boulevard. The installation consists of 300 gates, each stretched over with hand-dyed fabric that together encompass the entire colour spectrum. The bright hues and the length of the chain make this piece perfectly Instagram-worthy. And if you do make the opportunity to sneak a selfie with this breath-taking piece of public art, know that you’ll be in good company. 100 colours has previously been displayed in cosmopolitan cities all over the world, like Tokyo, Osaka, Brussels and Buenos Aires.

Life Size Andalucian I

The Arabian Peninsula has a strong history of horse rearing and racing. Life Size Andalucian I, by sculptor Vincent Da Silva, is a tribute to the city’s illustrious equestrian heritage. The piece was cast in bronze and stands at 1.8 meters high and 2.6 meters long. The figurative piece represents the fluidity of a horse in motion and carefully captures the feeling kinetic energy and wild power found in these majestic beasts.

Camels

camel

This simply named sculpture represents the animal that is truly a symbol of the Arabian Gulf. Camels, by Donald Greig, is a series of three life-size sculptures of the humble beasts. The trio includes a standing camel, a seated one and a camel calf. Greig is an artist known for his sculptures of wildlife and he created Camels after spending hours observing and riding camels. The sculptures were then melded into silicone and cast into wax. After, they were dipped to add 15 layers of ceramic and finally finished off with molten bronze. The tallest of the camels stands at 3 meters and weights about 800 kilograms.

Al Sidra

Al Sidra is a free-shaped bronze sculpture. Kuwait sculptor Sami Mohamed Al Saleh has created this beautiful sculpture. It is located on the boulevard next to Al Manzil Hotel. The sculpture’s inspiration comes from the humble Sidra tree. It is a native species of plant life known for its ability to grow in the harshest of conditions. According to the artist, the piece is also meant as a tribute to the resilience of Arabian women, with their ability to thrive despite any challenges they may face along the way.

Together

together

Syrian artist Lutfi Romhein has created this striking piece. It consists of two tall figures standing side by side. One is made of white marble and features a man dressed in a khandoura. The other is made of black granite and depicts a woman wearing an abaya. The marble for the male figure is from Carrara, Italy while the granite for the female hails from Sweden. The two figures are quite imposing, standing at 4.25 meters high. By positioning them together, the piece depicts how one cannot exist without the other and how together, they are stronger than they are apart.

Gathering

Gathering is a cluster of ten basalt sculptures created by Spanish sculptor Xavier Cobero. The ten figurines weight over 20 tonnes and are meant to be artistic renderings of the human form. They stand with the Burj Khalifa as a backdrop and according to the artist, he feels there is a special connection between his work and the famous skyscraper, as both invoke feelings of ‘nature, imagination and reality.’

 

Art in Dubai is not locked away – it’s a part of the city itself. A simple stroll along Emaar Boulevard will lead you to a trove of stunning works of public art. We hope you’ve found our guide to the public art on Downtown Dubai’s Emaar Boulevard useful. Make sure to take some pictures the next time you are by!

 

 

Top Art Hotels in UAE

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

The UAE has a growing reputation as an artistic destination. We ourselves have launched our Art Tours of Dubai, to help you explore the creative side of the city.  While you may expect to see art in museums and galleries, you might be unaware that certain hotels are incorporating art into the guest experience, allowing you to witness the creativity of the region without ever leaving the lobby. Here, we take you through the top Art Hotels in UAE.

XVA Art Hotel

xva

This small boutique hotel is probably the city’s most famous example of an Art Hotel. There are only 14 rooms, each individually curated to showcase the architectural and cultural motifs of the region. One room will be themed based on the hand decorating practice of henna, another around the Emirati clothing item the Dish dash and so on. The sense of heritage is strong in this hotel, as it is located in Bastakiya, the city’s heritage district (and the site of our Old Dubai Walking Tours!). In addition to the stylized rooms, the hotel also boasts its own art gallery for guests and other visitors to see examples of local works.  The vibe of this hotel is very unique and its small size allows for a more tranquil guest experience. However, it’s important to note that while the service is friendly and the hotel well cared for, don’t expect the little extras like fluffy white towels and chocolates on the pillows – this place is far too trendy for that.

Dusit D2 Kenz

Dusit D2 Kenz is a contemporary hotel conveniently located by the Dubai Internet City Metro Station in Barsha Heights. Emirati artist Zeinab Al Hashemi designed the artwork in this hotel, inspired by the shape of a dhow’s sail. The artworks vary from a striking installation hanging from the hotel’s lobby to blue prints of a ship framed in individual rooms. The sculptures in particular are of note, making use of geometric lines of metal and wood accented with rope and twine. The entire experience is a game changer. It transforms the contemporary hotel into a canvas that showcases Dubai’s history in a modern fashion. The hotel itself is part of a Thai based chain, so visitors can be certain of exemplary hospitality while there. Make sure to enjoy the rooftop pool or take advantage of the D’Stress Spa for an incredible massage and body wrap.

Jumeirah Creekside Hotel

The hotel is in the heart of Dubai overlooking the Dubai Creek. It is a fusion of contemporary design and architecture and offers a cultural experience through the

Middle Eastern contemporary art collection. If you want to connect with the local culture, then this is the place to be. The art collection is well placed throughout the hotel and its grounds. It comprises of 482 works by over 51 contemporary artists including paintings, sculptures and mixed media works. The collection is curated by Camelia Esmaili, the founder of I’Atelier Camelia.

Ritz Carlton DIFC

Located in the heart of Downtown Dubai, Ritz Carlton DIFC is a 5 star accommodation which is a treat to your senses. Canvas Atlanta- the Art collection incorporates keys elements of Emirati culture. The falconry, pearls, Arabic architecture, flora and fauna reflect a true eclectic grouping of work. Canvas has created a mix of work that is international in flavor, yet shows a reference to the local and regional style.

Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort

Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort is the only art inspired resort in Fujairah. The hotel is ideally situated for excursions, be it hiking, diving, snorkeling or scuba diving. This exclusive retreat boasts 180 rooms, each with a view of the ocean or marina. The pieces on display are sourced from all over the world. A design best described as bohemian meets art deco with a touch of arabesque. One of the most striking pieces on display is a six-meter long canvas decorated with seven layers of Arabian calligraphy done in a graffiti style. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition of old and new. Other striking pieces include giant ostrich egg sculptures in the waiting areas and an installation of framed vintage jewels. The piéce de résistance, however, lies in the mosaic-tiled pool, with its beautiful blue scrolling pattern that nods to the traditional Arabesque designs.

Rove Downtown Hotel

The Rove Downtown Hotel is a mid-market hotel located just a short walk away from the Burj Khalifa. The hotel appeals to the young and the young at heart, and trendy artwork is part of the guest experience. The entire building is Instagram-friendly, with plenty of quirky pieces scattered around the common areas (including some that incorporate hashtags!). There is a sense of discovery to the art here. A caravan of camels are fixed to the ceiling feet first, graffiti stencil designs are sprayed high on the wall or near the corner of the ground and a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ with mixed media pieces stands proudly in the lobby. All of this adds to the feel of art truly infusing the location.

Noon Art Boutique Hotel Apartments

This art-inspired boutique hotel features the works of three regional artists. They are the Emirati Najat Makki, the Qatari Ali Hassan and the Tunisian Khaled Bin Simane. The works of these artists are presented collectively on different levels of the hotel.  Makki’s work has a strong nod towards feminine figures, to acknowledge the key role played by Arabian women in society. Hassan specializes in calligraphy, with his pieces for the hotel playing on the Arabic letter ‘noon.’ And Simane’s passion lies in ceramics, following the tradition of Islamic pottery and punching it up with bold shots of color. These three unique perspectives combine to create a cohesive homage to the region’s landscape. The hotel itself is located in Al Barsha, behind Mall of the Emirates and possesses a plethora of modern conveniences.

There is a lot of wonderful art in the city – even in places you would not immediately expect.  If you want to be inspired by the creative vibe of the region, why not consider booking a stay at one of the UAE’s art hotels? You’ll enjoy a unique guest experience and take home some memorable photographs to boot.

Islamic Art

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

Islamic art is a term that encompasses a variety of visual arts that began from the 7th century onwards, hailing from regions of the world with strong Islamic populations. As you can imagine, this encompasses a great deal. In this post, we’ll provide an introduction into Islamic art.

Islamic Art vs. Religious Art

One of the most interesting aspects to note about Islamic art is that it is not synonymous with religious art. Western audiences may erroneously think it similar to the paintings of Biblical scenes that can often be found in European museums. But in fact, Islamic art frequently includes secular elements as well – the name is more in reference to a region than to a religion.

Islamic Patterns

Interestingly, Islamic art usually does not focus on depictions on figures. This is usually avoided, as the depiction of the human form can, to certain Muslims, be seen as a form of idolatry. Instead, Islamic art has a great focus on patterns in various forms – geometric, floral and even calligraphic. The two main forms of Islamic patterns are specifically arabesque and girih.

Arabesque patterns are curved-patterns that recreate foliage and other forms of curving tendrils. The sweeping, scrolling designs bring to mind the beauty of nature. Artists who work in this style traditionally would include a small misstep in the pattern. This was seen to be a sign of humility and an acknowledgement that only God is able to create something perfect.

Girih patterns are more angular. They are made up of interlocking geometric lines that usually take the shape of stars or other polygons. These patterns are carefully made with the help of compasses or dividers to ensure perfect symmetry. Girih patterns are often seen in tiles in Islamic buildings.

islamic art

 

Islamic Pottery

Islamic art is also quite noted for its beautiful ceramics and pottery. Historic Islamic potters developed cutting edge technology at that time. Furthermore, this allowed the creation of pieces that were truly unique and beautiful. Also, Islamic potters were among the first to develop the technique of tin-opacified glazing. The whiteness and opaqueness created by this form of glazing encouraged decoration with colour. Lustre ware was another Islamic technique, first developed in Mesopotamia in the 9th century. Lustre ware is a technique that gives the ceramics a metallic glaze, so that the ceramic maintains a striking iridescent glow.

Islamic pottery was highly sought after by European collectors. One example of this is the albarello, a type of jar used by apothecaries to store their ointments and herbs. These jars were usually highly decorated. When they were first brought to Italy by traders in the 15th century, they became very fashionable. Italian potters used these Islamic designs as inspiration and worked to create and decorate albarellos in a style of  their own.

islamic art

 

Islamic Carpentry

Islamic rugs, better known as Oriental rugs, are probably the Islamic art product that is most known to the rest of the world. In the Islamic world, these rugs can be seen in various forms, from floor coverings to prayer mats to even cushions. The earliest patterns of Islamic carpets were decorated with straight geometric lines, which were the simplest to do with the techniques available at that time. As techniques improved, the patterns changed to incorporate the curving arabesque loops that are now most common in Oriental rugs. Common designs usually have a central medallion-style motif called a gul, with wide, bold borders. These pieces can make a striking addition to any household. Therefore, it’s no wonder that these rugs have become famous throughout the world.

Islamic Calligraphy

Islamic calligraphy is found in countless forms of Islamic art products – coins, tiles, metalwork, paintings and even the walls of buildings. The practice of Islamic calligraphy is tied into the Qur’an and religious practice. Writing is a central notion in Islam. In fact, it is claimed that the Prophet Mohammed once said, “The first thing God created was the pen.”

Several styles of Islamic calligraphy have arisen, but the most popular two are specifically kufic and naskh.

Kufic: This is the oldest form of the script, which focuses on angular, rigid strokes. While it is at heart a linear form of writing, floral or foliated versions have also developed over time.

Naskh: Naskh is a cursive script. Originally, it was considered informal as it lacked the discipline and elegance of the traditional kufic mode of writing. However, as Islam grew more popular, the need for a script that could be written out faster grew. The Naskh style was in fact developed to combine the ease of cursive with the neatness of a defined writing system. Soon this became the most popular style of Islamic calligraphy.

Today, examples of Islamic calligraphy in the UAE can be seen everywhere from the lobbies of modern Arabian buildings to contemporary artworks made by up-and-coming Emirati artists.

 

Islamic art takes many shapes and forms. The list above is a just a small selection of what the term encompasses. We hope you found this introduction to Islamic art useful. If you’d like to learn more about Islamic art and its prevalence in everyday  Arabian life, our Art Tour of Dubai takes you to see insightful examples of what the forms looked like in the past and what they look like today.

Top Emirati Artists

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

The UAE is home to glamorous buildings along with its stunning coastlines and breathtaking sand dunes. Amidst all this beauty, it’s no wonder that the country has incubated a collection of find Emirati artists. These creatives draw inspiration from the city around them and the traditions they grew up in. Furthermore, they interpret what they see in new and exciting ways for the public. In this post, we’ll highlight a collection of the top Emirati artists.

 Zeinab Al Hashemi

Zeinab Al Hashemi is a contemporary artist who often takes inspiration from Emirati cultural traditions. She has a unique ability to look at what is popular and then interpret it into something totally unique. She specializes site-specific installations and public artworks, which she refers to as ‘Construction Design Art’ that straddle the boundary between art and design.

Her work can be seen in the hotel lobby of Dusit D2 Kenz Hotel. It is an installation of a Dhow Sail that hangs from the ceiling. It is inspired first fictional work of Emirati literature (Shahinda) by Sheikh Rashid Abdullah Al Nuaimi published in UAE. The love story is about the title character’s relationship with the sea and the Desert which is depicted in the installation.

dhow

In 2016, she collaborated with Swarovski for a project “Hexalite”, an outdoor Kaleidoscopic Installation at Dubai Design District. The work was the centerpiece at D3 with Swarovski crystals and 33 hexagonal mirrored-steel structures that reflected after dark. No wonder, she is one of the top Emirati artists.

hexalite

Hassan Sharif

Hassan Sharif was one of the most prominent Emirati artists. He is known for pioneering conceptual art in the Middle East. His work is difficult to categorize, as he was constantly challenging himself to try new and unexpected ideas. In fact, this tendency led him to refer to himself as a nomad (a tongue-in-cheek designation, as he actually spent the majority of his life in Gulf). Some of his most interesting works were created using trash from the streets of Dubai – newspapers, ropes, cardboard boxes and threadbare cloths. All his work, from 1970 till his death in 2016, was infused with an intense energy that captured the hustle and bustle of the city. Truly, he was the grandfather of conceptual art in the Middle East and his influence is felt even after his passing.

Mohammed Kazem

Mohammed Kazem is one of Sharif’s best-known protégés and a famed conceptual artist in his own right. He works primarily with video, sound, photography and performance. A common theme in his work involves looking at transient phenomena, such as light and sound. He finds ways to make his work more tangible. It’s a fitting motif for a man who has lived his life in the UAE, and seen the many changes the city has gone through.

To learn more about the history of Dubai, check out our walking tour of Old Dubai

Abdul Qader Al Rais

Abdul Qader Al Rais is an award-winning painter. A self-taught artist, he began his artistic journey by painting watercolours of the UAE’s landscape and architecture. He gained acclaim for these photorealistic paintings, that capture the likeness of the city in impressive detail. Eventually, he became drawn to more contemporary modes of expression. Today, he also creates abstract paintings incorporating Arabic letters. He uses small geometric squares which makes his work noticeable.

Abdullah Al Saadi

Abdullah Al Saadi‘s works span a broad range-paintings, drawings, found object sculptures and more. He grew up in the beautiful region of Khor Fakkan. The natural beauty and rural life of his hometown has informed his works. One of his most poignant works is “My Mother’s Letters,” a collection of objects – chocolates, rocks, string –  that his illiterate mother would leave in his house as small tokens to let him know that she has stopped by.  Many of his works involved some aspect of collecting and finding order in the rural world.

Ebtisam AbdulAziz

Ebtisam AbdulAziz is a contemporary artist whose works center around geometry and mathematics. One of her earliest and most memorable works – involved standing in a black bodysuit printed with bright green numbers taken from her bank statements. It is a searing commentary on the materialism that infects our humanity, and a brave artistic expression for an Emirati woman to make in such a public manner. Her works have continued to be bold and daring, while still maintaining her dedication to mathematics and systems

Maisoon Al Saleh

Maisoon Al Saleh is an Emirati painter in the surrealist style. Her works show a fascination with anatomy and contain a recurring skeleton motif. Her haunting paintings work to comment on Emirati culture, both traditional and modern. One of her most well-known works is an exhibition called The Dara Chronicles. It is a mixed media series that focuses on a ship that wrecked off the coast of Dubai in the 1960s.  Al Saleh’s grandfather was a survivor of the incident, adding a special poignancy to the work.

The UAE is home to some fine Emirati artists who are pushing boundaries while paying homage to their traditions. Plenty can be learnt about the city through its artists and their works. If you’d like to know more, be sure to check out our Art Tours of Dubai, which take you on a creative journey through the city.

 

The Yard Dubai

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

The people behind the developments like La Mer and The Beach JBR, The Meeras Group has come up with a new development destination. The new destination, The Yard Dubai has been unveiled recently and is definitely a place worth visiting. In this post, we will tell you all about The Yard Dubai.

What is The Yard ?

The Yard Dubai is a whole new area to explore in Dubai. It is a 350,000 sq. ft extension to the existing Last Exit D89 . The destination features playful mural, similar to the Art Work across buildings in La Mer.

The Yard comprises a rustic courtyard, an organic farmer’s market, a bakery, a lake with two bridges spanning it, shaded walking trails. The inspiration behind this is Dubai’s agricultural heartland, showing a blend of rural farm environment with urban accents. It also has air-conditioned and open-air restaurants and dining spaces.

The place is perfect for you to get beautiful pictures for your Instagram account. The 18-m high wind wall, wishing well, decorative vintage trucks scream “Instagram me”!

Now open to public, it is aimed to be a 2.8 million sq. ft “urban destination” project. The Yard is open 24*7.

Where is The Yard Located?

It is located in the Al Khawaneej area on the outskirts of the city, near Mushrif Park.

How do I get to The Yard?

If you want to use public transport for going to The Yard, you can take a bus from Rashidiya Metro station bus stop. RTA Buses F05 and 11A take you to Mushrif Veterinary and it is approximately a 2km walk from there. The most convenient way is to go by car or a cab. There is plenty of free parking and drop off points at the location.

What is the highlight of  The Yard?

Dubai’s first “Promise Bridge” is located here. Also known as the love locks bridge, it is an ode to the original bridge in Paris, Ponts des Arts. People make symbolic promises to their loved ones here, by attaching padlocks with usually their names on them

Stepping stones from here lead to the 550m walkway.

What are some good restaurants at the Yard Dubai?

Krush Burger: Burgers are always a favourite for everyone. And extra cheese and fries make it even better. This food truck serves Fast Food and American Burgers.

The Inventing room: This food truck satisfies your dessert cravings. Their frozen hot chocolate is a recommended drink.

Mooyah: The food truck also serves fast food but their Loaded fries is what people generally order.

 

Meeras is creating imaginative and exciting family friendly destinations for Dubai residents. There are plans to host community events to bring residents and visitors in Al Khawaneej area together to socialise, create and innovative. It would be exciting to see The Yard Dubai once it is fully constructed.