When my family tells people where I live, they tell them Dubai. I don’t live in Dubai, so why do they do this? Well, I think it is because most Americans are geographically ignorant. I don’t blame my family for doing this. It is after all the quickest way to get someone to understand where I kinda live. Otherwise, the conversation goes something like this:
My mom: My daughter lives in Al Ain.
Other person: blank stare
My mom: In the UAE.
Other person: blank stare
My mom: the United Arab Emirates
Other person: blank stare (but starting to look uncomfortable as they realize their ignorance is becoming apparent)
My mom: In the Middle East
Other person: oh! Is that safe? Like in Saudi Arabia?
My mom: No, like a city in Abu Dhabi.
Other person: Hmm… was that where Sex in the City 2 took place?
My mom: I have no idea.
Alternatively, if my family just starts by saying I live in Dubai, people seem to get it. Or at least they pretend to. I doubt most of them could find Dubai on a map. In fact, I would guess that a good number of them think Dubai is a country. Americans are idiots about geography, but at least they have heard of Dubai.
All of this being said, my point is that I don’t make it to Dubai all that often. Yes, it is only 1.5 hours away. Yes, it is a fairly easy drive. Yes, there are many more things to do in Dubai than in Al Ain. No, I still don’t go there very often. I just don’t know what to do in Dubai. I feel out of place. I don’t know my way around. – Let’s be honest, once I get past Al Foah mall, James (my GPS) gets turned on and stays on until I am safely back home. It’s like I am in a foreign country.
Yet, for my birthday, Dubai was the place to be. My first birthday in the UAE was spent in Abu Dhabi and my second in Al Ain, so it seemed only fitting that my third should be spent in Dubai. – I fully recognize that this was a really roundabout way to get to my story, but hey, roundabouts can be fun.
Thanks to my friend Emily’s wonderful suggestion, we decided to celebrate my birthday with a brunch at Mina A’Salam. I have read about the brunches in Dubai. There are always stories about the extravagant, over-the-top, wildly expensive Dubai brunches (525aed including alcoholic beverages). Usually these stories end with people saying the brunches were one of the reasons why they left Dubai having saved no money. That being said, I still wasn’t really sure what to expect. Thankfully Emily is a brunch pro and was able to lead the way.
With reservations in hand, Emily, Jane (Emily’s aunt), Geraint, and I giddily took pictures before entering the brunch at Mina A’Salam in the Madinat Jumeirah area at precisely 12:30. The timing is critical as the brunch “only” lasts from 12:30 to 4. This sounds like a long time to be gluttonously eating and drinking, but in reality, time flies by.
The brunch extends into three different restaurants; Al Muna (international/seafood), Zheng He’s (Chinese), and Tortuga (Mexican). Along the walkway between the restaurants were plenty of food stands with things like grilled meat and fish & chips.
Just as importantly, along the way were also beverage stations like the gin station and the vodka station (the latter conveniently located right next to our table). The bartender of the vodka station, Alex, always had a cosmopolitan waiting for me each time I walked by. And towards the end of the brunch, when people were lining up to get drinks before the beverage station closed, he handed me two last cosmos without making me wait in line. Oh the benefits of being the birthday girl. (*And before I get any messages expressing concern over this post, please remember that I do have an ‘alcoholic drinks license’* Thanks!)
After consuming more food than comfortable, it was time for dessert. Then they brought out a birthday cake for me while the band sang me happy birthday. Not sure how that happened, maybe Emily arranged it? It is possible that I forgot to ask after that many cosmos into the brunch. Instead, I just sat back and enjoyed my moment.
After a fabulous brunch, we continued the celebrations upstairs at the “after party” in the Bahri bar. People coming from the brunch are given buy one get one free drink offers. We sat out on the balcony and enjoyed the wonderful February weather (22C/72F). Geraint and I made a game out of guessing where people were from based on their clothes, hair, and mannerism. It is sad how often I am wrong when playing this game. Oh the fun one can have after consuming many, many cosmos. It led to us having some very fun conversations with lots of random people.
At this point, you may think that would be the end to the birthday fun, but you would be wrong. We had our “after after party” at the 360* Bar.
Although the night was still young, there are only so many Cosmopolitans one person can consume before needing to call it a night. I checked into my hotel (fittingly called the Cosmopolitan Hotel), and, probably because it is a ‘dry hotel’, spent a few hours just drinking water and chatting before falling into a peaceful slumber. Nothing crazy dangerous, just a great birthday.
The next morning as I got back to Al Ain, I had my customary thought of “oh it feels good to be back in Al Ain. I am so glad I don’t live in Dubai”, but I can honestly say I loved living the Dubai life for a (birth)day. Thank you to Emily, Geraint, and Jane for making it a wonderful day!