Al naqhat al arabiya

The above title means “Arabic flavors” (thanks to Warren Singh Bartlett for translation skills). That’s what I got a bit of when I went to Dubai for the holidays to visit family (my father, brother and their respective families).

When my Dad moved to Dubai in the early 90s, no one knew what I was talking about when I said I was going there for a visit. I had to add “near Saudi Arabia” as a point of reference. Now when the guy at the AT+T shop asks me what countries I’ll be calling with the international rate plan and I reply “Dubai,” I get: “I want to go there!”

Yes, things have changed a lot since I was last there in 2001. Like Las Vegas, Dubai became a magnet for celebchef-restaurant outposts. Fifteen years ago you went to the run-of-the-mill, overpriced restaurants in hotels (where booze is served legally), or alcohol-free local joints like the Lebanese chain Automatic, which my Dad and brother visited regularly. Now a Time Out Dubai trumpets a constant stream of new restaurant openings, from Reflets de Pierre Gagnaire to Maya, nuevo Mexican from New York chef Richard Sandoval.

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