Dubai denies plans for R Kelly concerts

Dubai’s government has denied R Kelly had plans to perform there and meet its royal family – after the singer asked a judge for permission to travel to the UAE.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News


R Kelly asks judge for permission to perform gigs in Dubai

R Kelly has asked a judge for permission to travel to Dubai so he can perform shows and “meet with the royal family”.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News


John Varvatos Enters Middle East With Dubai Mall Store

John Varvatos has made a move into the Middle East.
The New York-based men’s brand on Tuesday night opened a 2,937-square-foot store in the Fashion Avenue section of the Dubai Mall.
The store, which is the 31st retail unit for the label, is part of a geographical licensing deal with Casa Vida, which is part of Emaar Properties, a real estate firm that owns the Dubai Mall, according to Mark Brashear, chief executive officer of John Varvatos.
Under the terms of the deal, Brashear said, Casa Vida will open two additional stores in the Middle East over the next 18 months. The locations have not yet been identified, he said. “We’re looking at a couple of different options.”
Emaar operates over 6.7 million square feet of retail space in Dubai and also owns the Dubai Marina Mall, Souk Al Bahar and the Gold & Diamond Park, according to its web site.
The addition of Varvatos is part of the expansion of the fashion and lifestyle offerings at the Dubai Mall that involves adding another 1 million square feet and 150 new brands to the Fashion Avenue area of the mall. The company has a goal of attracting over 100 million visitors in the next three to

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Tomorrow’s Cities: Dubai and China roll out urban robots

Drones and robocops are starting to find a home in cities, but will they become ubiquitous?
BBC News – Technology


Dior Opens New Boutique in Dubai Mall

TRADING UP: Dior is the latest luxury brand to make a statement in Dubai Mall’s recently opened Fashion Avenue extension.
The French fashion house has opened a boutique in the exclusive section of the shopping mall, which is home to luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermès and Chanel. This replaces its previous unit in the mall.
The store, which offers women’s and men’s collections alongside jewelry and watches, is dotted with artworks and mirror-effect furniture, such as Guillaume Piechaud’s polished steel Galet table and Maria Pergay Gerbe’s console.
It features a herringbone-patterned parquet floor, nodding to house founder Christian Dior’s taste for 18th-century furnishings.
To mark the opening, Dior has created limited-edition products, including 30 pairs of J’Adior sunglasses and 16 pairs of crocodile-leather detailed sneakers.
There are also exclusive versions of Dio(r)evolution and Dior Addict bags; Dior Motion and Dior(r)evolution shoes; a Milieu du Siècle rose gold and diamond ring from the Archi Dior collection; a Dior Homme T-shirt with golden bee embroidery, as well as the BMX Serie 2 bike from the collaboration between Dior Homme and bike specialist Bogarde.
The brand also has two boutiques, one for women and one for men, in the Mall of the Emirates, in addition to a

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The Dubai Design and Fashion Council and Vogue Arabia Award Fashion Prizes

DUBAI — The Dubai Design and Fashion Council and Vogue Arabia awarded three designers from the region the Fashion Prize earlier this week, an annual award going to the top talent from the Middle East. The designers represent three different categories: ready-to-wear, fine jewelry and accessories. The winners were chosen by a panel that included designer Reem Acra, Aquazzura creative director Edgardo Osorio, DDFC chief executive officer Jazia Aldanhani and Vogue Arabia editor in chief Manuel Arnaut.
“It’s wonderful to discover such promising new talent in the region,” said Osorio. Accra, who is on the board of the council, said: “The DDFC Vogue Fashion Prize is so important for the region. It empowers the new generation of designers.”
This year’s winners were:
Faissal El-Malak, Ready-to-Wear
Palestinian designer Faissal El-Malak grew up between Montreal and Qatar and studied in Paris before settling in Dubai. His work is rooted in his search for identity. “Both sides of my family are Palestinian refugees,” he said. “My identity was only based on ideas and memories of my grandparents. I didn’t have anything tangible until I discovered traditionally hand embroidered cushions and dresses that my mother had. That was the first time I had something that related to my identity.”

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In Dubai, Designers Embrace a More Seasonless, Commercial Approach

DUBAI — Despite a rare downpour in the desert over the weekend, 10,000 people from Dubai and the region came out in force to see regional designers showcase their latest collections at Fashion Forward, the emirate’s answer to a fashion week.
The key themes that emerged were wearable, seasonless collections, with an emphasis on comfort. In a region known for its interest in couture, ready-to-wear designers showed a move toward practical dressing with a decidedly feminist edge.
“Dubai is a retail capital, something that can be a really big advantage for our young designers,” said Bong Guerrero, chief executive officer of Fashion Forward. “Social media gives emerging talent the opportunity to take their runway designs directly to their audience, and it creates a lot of buzz and demand right after the shows.”
With retail sales generally slowing in the area, retailers are looking for new brands to discover. Maria Gold Knudsen, head of style and content at, a new luxury retail platform in the Middle East, said the company is featuring several regional designers alongside well-established global brand names. “We have capsule collections launched exclusively for us [that] do very well. We are always on the lookout for new brands from the region.”

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This passenger-carrying drone will soon hit skies in Dubai

This passenger-carrying drone will soon hit skies in DubaiMeet the EHang 184 AAV. It’s the first one-person battery-powered drone to ever hit the skies. It was first unveiled at CES 2016 and has been making test flights in Nevada. The autonomous vehicle can carry one passenger at 60 miles per hour. The pilotless drone has eight rotors mounted in pairs on four folding arms for liftoff. EHang, the company that makes it, says it will be ready for consumers to purchase in Dubai in July. Source: More:

Yahoo Tech


Best Buy Co, Inc.

Dubai announces passenger drone plans

The drone can carry a person and a small suitcase, and flies at up to 100 miles per hour.
BBC News – Technology


Dubai investigates Kardashian’s clinic visit

Dubai authorities are reportedly investigating a centre for disabled children after it hosted a visit by Kim Kardashian West without government approval.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News


The Dubai Film Festival Diaries: A Classy End to a Life-Changing Event

2016-12-17-1481972147-7016000-img.jpg OK, I’ll just preface this by saying that were the majority of film reviews written by women, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story would never have been made. I’m probably a Star Trek girl through and through because I like a little reflection to go along with my entertainment. Not a whole lot of references to things I know nothing about nor want to particularly find out. But more on the film that closed this year’s Dubai International Film Festival later in the blog.

The reason that DIFF exists and just celebrated its glorious thirteenth edition is primarily to showcase and support the ever-growing Arab cinema industry. Yet we all know that a festival without international stars, great world premieres and exclusive parties would not be on anyone’s radar for very long. And this year, DIFF brought to Dubai Hollywood royalty like Andie MacDowell and Samuel L. Jackson, HBO’s Westworld stars Jeffrey Wright and Luke Hemsworth, filmmaker extraordinaire Asif Kapadia, world-class composer Gabriel Yared and Indian superstars of past, present and future Rekha, Om Puri and Ranveer Singh. Along with of course the great auteurs from the Region like Yousry Nasrallah and Magdy Ahmed Aly, as well as world festival favorites like Hedi by Mohamed Ben Attia and Layla M. by Mijke De Jong. The red carpets were plentiful, the atmosphere electrifying and the result of the seven days and eight nights was a festival like no other — where media, filmmakers and audiences alike could enjoy the beauty of Dubai and absorb as much cinema as their appetite allowed.

As I waited one morning to interview Jeffrey Wright and Luke Hemsworth about Westworld, I listened in on their conversation with other members of the media. I have loved Wright’s honest acting since I watched him in Julian Schnabel‘s Basquiat and I follow his blunt yet so needed Tweets on social media. The man doesn’t dwindle around serious issues. For example, see below.

So, I did what I did back in Berlin with Gianfranco Rosi, at the beginning of his journey with his documentary Fire at Sea — I used the waiting time to color my interview. The host of the Arabic version of a well-known US entertainment TV magazine asked Wright if he could say a few words in Arabic, and Wright admitted that he’d learned some Arabic twenty years ago and at that time “I learned to love Umm Kulthum then, I love her music!” It was warming to hear him say those words as the Egyptian singing legend has become for me inseparable from this Region. Everywhere I go, be it a shop in a mall, a restaurant or even at gala events, her haunting voice is the soundtrack of Dubai, and beyond.

When he was asked about the recent US election, Wright also managed to put into words what we’ve all been feeling by saying, “America is going through an interesting phase right now. I think it’s going to be an interesting next few years.” Most of us have been feeling like the real work begins now and hearing Wright address that by pointing out that the election had brought out “a real awakening of people who are concerned about tolerance and social justice all the things that the results of this election seem to have cast aside,” made me hopeful. He finally added, “America is a big country. And we’re stronger than any one person. America is really not defined by its presidents, it’s defined by its people. At the end of the day I hope we become a better country and progress forward. I’m hopeful that at the end of the day we’ll keep progressing forward as we have.”


When the time came for his co-star Luke Hemsworth, the young Australian actor wasn’t as lucky with his questions. “Do you feel bad that you’re the shortest of all the Hemsworth brothers?” The host chimed in. I am often baffled by the complete lack of any class in TV journalism. Not that print media is that much better, but at least we have a time delay from when we formulate stupid questions to when we actually transcribe the interview to realize the errors of our ways… Anyway, Hemsworth was kind, and quick on his feet. “They stole all my food when I was growing up!” He replied, and I secretly giggled, at the TV host, while clapping inside for the star.

I’d come to DIFF really craving to finally meet in person Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya, as well as watch on the big screen, where it belongs, their masterpiece creation The Cinema Travellers. Back when the film premiered in Cannes, their publicist and our common friend had sent me a link to watch the documentary and write a little something about it. Sitting in my favorite corner of my apartment, holding their jewel of a film in my hands, I felt like I had just been handed a gift. My world became part of theirs for nearly 100 minutes, and I was immersed in the wonderful joy of cinematic magic. But watching it then in Dubai, on the big screen where most films belong, was like discovering a whole new film within The Cinema Travellers, like finding new visual and emotional clues that I could never have imagined on the screen of my laptop. And meeting Abraham and Madheshiya in person finally solved the puzzle of how such a beautiful film could ever have been made… It took two beautiful human beings, that’s how!


DIFF this year was also about fashion. For me, the festival always holds its finger on the pulse of what Dubai fashionistas are wearing, but for its thirteenth edition, they went one step further. While people lined up for the Middle East premiere of the Will Smith starrer Collateral Beauty, we were all treated to a fashion show on the red carpet, organized by the Dubai Design District, also known as D3, and Fashion Forward Dubai. Five designers who create and sell in the Region — Zareena, Amato, Michael Cinco, Ezra and Hussein Bazaza — presented their evening looks in front of DIFF Managing Director Shivani Pandya, the Executive Director of Operations Mahsa Motamedi and yours truly, all sitting in the privileged front row. I loved the flavor of fashion on the red carpet, this time even overshadowing the celebrities and the films for a few minutes. But of course, I always feel fashion provides the perfect frame to cinema and art.

There was also an announcement during this year’s festival that felt like the right thing at just the right time. As the shortlist for the Foreign Language Academy Awards seems to have completely ignored cinema from the MENA region this year, the Arab Film Institute will hopefully step in. A new entity that promises to “promote, inspire, preserve, educate, support, influence and engage Arab film professionals under one roof,” the AFI has brought together producers, filmmakers, political figures and critics to create a database that may eventually give birth to an award platform for the Middle East, from the Middle East and within the Middle East.

Of course, there was cinema at DIFF, films to satiate even the hungriest of cinema goer. For me, the event closed with two works, one I loved, and one I could really have lived without.


Magdi Ahmed Ali’s Mawlana (The Preacher) felt to me like it should have been named “The Prophet” since on the day it premiered it hauntingly foretold of the day’s events. Mawlana tells the story of a moderate Imam, a religious leader followed and beloved by those around him, yet whose tolerant views are being challenged every day, by what happens in the world. It doesn’t hurt that the film stars Egyptian actor Amr Saad in the lead role and his charisma and restrained demeanor as Sheikh Hatem El Shennawi really sell the film to the audience. But perhaps most haunting for me was discovering the scene of a Coptic Christian church bombing which had just occurred before the film’s red carpet, sending chills up my spine. When a beautiful, touching film has that prophetic feel to it, I can’t help but find it a winner.


So now onto DIFF’s closing night film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This felt like an overdrawn, too dark and too full of references to things I know nothing about, video game. Granted, if you are a huge Star Wars fans it will be a treat to find Peter Cushing resurrected by CGI as the Imperial Officer Grand Moff Tarkin from the 1977 original Star Wars: A New Hope. Thrilling? Well it would have been if the 3D glasses I found on my seat weren’t used and therefore smudged beyond what any cleaning could do to them and the images of Cushing felt inconsistent throughout. His presence didn’t do it for me. I get it that Star Wars fans will celebrate anything to do with the franchise, from T-shirts (even I had to get an overpriced one of Darth Vader dressed as an Arab dictator) to merchandise to yes, tired old films. But what is up with Felicity Jones and those constant “meaningful” looks she shoots at her co-stars? Having just watched her in The Tempest, I can’t say her acting has gotten any better with age. And don’t get me started on Diego Luna, a brilliant actor who is completely miscast here. His accent gives Captain Cassian Andor a Speedy Gonzales feel I just could not get over and I giggled each time he opened his mouth. I did like Riz Ahmed, but I’ve liked him in each and every role he’s played since The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Am I being PC about this? Probably not, but I haven’t felt this strongly about how much I hated a film in a long, long while… Yes, the red carpet with the Chewbacca crew was fun, but other than that, as I said, I’m a Trekkie through and through.

Finally, a thank you to the festival, its organizers and the publicists who made my life so perfectly organized and pleasant for the past week or so. This edition of the Dubai International Film Festival was indeed a “Lucky 13” one for me and receiving the thank you note that I’ve posted as the header image of this piece, the day after DIFF ended, was the cherry on the cake. From the opening gala and party to the closing night film and big bash, with a live soundtrack provided by the Reyes Heritage (the sons of the Gypsy Kings) there wasn’t a dull moment or a sour note for Dubai, throughout. And the logo created by local designer Ash Chagla of Science Sunshine proved to bring just as much luck as it promised.

Till next year DIFF, from December 6th to the 13th, 2017 — Inshallah.

Red carpet and portraits photos by Getty Images, all courtesy of DIFF, used with permission.

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The Dubai Film Festival Diaries: ‘Their Finest’, Thierry Frémaux’s ‘Lumière!’ and Yousry Nasrallah


During the superabundance of interesting meetings, star-filled junkets and glamorous parties that make up the Dubai international Film Festival, at times I forget the most important part of this event — the films! It’s the reason why I’m here, why we are all here in fact, audiences, filmmakers and media from around the world alike.

But on my second day at DIFF I caught up on a lot of films I’d been craving to watch, like Their Finest, a moving British drama starring Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy, Thierry Frémaux’s fantastically curated Lumière! presentation and Yousry Nasrallah’s Brooks, Meadows and Lovely Faces.

Nothing like sitting in a dark movie theater, with the glow of the big screen warming my heart to make the world seem right again.


With Their Finest, a film I watched in the isolated comfort of a press screening, it was a case of the perfect storm. A film made by a woman filmmaker, Lone Scherfig, about a female screenwriter (played by Gemma Arterton) who writes propaganda films during WWII in London. It’s a phenomenally ripe time to be talking about the undeniable power of cinema and how good, positive messages empower while violence only adds to the chaos. I found myself cheering silently for the film, for its characters and at one pivotal moment in the story, I sobbed out loud. Their Finest is that good, that satisfying, that important at this point in time, that well made. More interviews with the cast and those working behind the scenes to come, from DIFF.

Now onto Thierry Frémaux’s labor of love Lumière!, a documentary about the French inventors of cinema, as pretty much we know it today — Auguste and Louis Lumière. Through a series of short, silent films that were shot between 1895 and 1905 by the Lumière brothers, Frémaux shows a world that is at once past, present and future.

The wondrous treat that audiences get when they watch Lumière! is a live commentary by Monsieur Cannes himself. The artistic director of the largest movie festival in the world sat inside the Jumeirah Theater, his chair facing the screen and shared insight, disclosed little known facts and took the audience on an important, yet utterly fun, cinematic journey. What he called, a “door into the Lumière world”, these ten films, having gone through a 4K restauration are at the best they’ve been since their creation. They are “in a shape we’ve never seen them in the past,” gushed Frémaux during the screening. While the Lumière brothers came in the midst of the invention process that made cinema possible, which started with Thomas Edison, they won it in a technological way, by creating the best machine, but also by imagining the most creative way to watch films, from within an audience, making it utterly social. A quality Frémaux calls “very French!”


With Yousry Nasrallah’s latest Brooks, Meadows and Lovely Faces, his highly anticipated return since the 2012 After the Battle, a personal favorite, I found myself as participant to a great banquet of “love, food, freedom and dignity,” as Nasrallah himself proclaimed to kick off the screening. In fact, I felt as if his film started where our last interview left off. “I love to cook, you know you cook and you get the same kind of response you get for a movie! It’s good, it’s delicious, it’s wonderful, or it’s lousy. Come to Cairo, I’ll cook you lunch,” he said, back in 2013. Brooks is that banquet, with a larger than life group of people who infused my senses and grabbed my attention from the very first frame. To say that I adore Nasrallah, is an understatement. His treatment of women in the movies is unique, not only because he intrinsically respects our gender, but because he gets our sensuality, our joie de vivre, our need for a connection — down to a T. Again, more to come on his film in later blogs.

All images courtesy of DIFF, used with permission.

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Naughty in Dubai: Part Three

Naughty in Dubai: Part Three

A short break in Europe over the festive season feels like bliss for Eric after the never-ending marathon of bachelorette parties in Dubai. Could Claudia, the hilarious woman he charms on the plane, be his perfect match? Her profession does offer plenty of opportunities for travel. Modelling assignments, hen parties and baby showers are in full swing back in Dubai, motivating the #naughtybutler only further to push the boundaries of his cockiness and pursue his fantasies with raunchy brides-to-be. Still, the ubiquitous fear of being caught is always at the back of his mind. Far too many random coincidences have been occurring recently. After one of his catch-ups with Ms. Smith, Eric concludes he must slow down and perhaps give settling down a go with one of his favourite girls. But how is that even possible with ever sparser modelling assignments increasing his dependency on satisfying a brand new batch of horny hens every weekend? Is there any woman who could tolerate this lifestyle?Perhaps, but there is a price to pay.

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First Stand-alone GapFit Boutique Opens in Dubai

GLOBAL EXCLUSIVE: The world’s first standalone GapFit boutique opens its doors this month in Dubai.
The 966-square-foot store, launched in partnership with the Al Tayer Group, carries the GapFit collection for men, women and kids. The store is making its debut with a showcase of the GapFit holiday 2016 collection.
Michael Richardson, vice president of franchise product at Al Tayer, said this global first is ideal for Dubai. “GapFit has been a popular choice among Dubai shoppers in the Gap stores, therefore it was a natural next step to provide the customers with a fuller assortment to choose from,” he said.
The new store is not housed in a mall, as the other Gap units in the region are. Instead it has a seaside location at The Beach complex, a popular destination in the Jumeirah Beach Residence area. “Combining the beauty of the beach with a day of shopping, GapFit at JBR is easily accessible to shoppers looking to update their fitness wardrobes,” said Richardson of the waterfront location.
The store design includes illuminated focus points with juxtaposing whitewashed wood finishes to create a blend of GapFit’s modern athletic decor combined with the look and feel of an authentic beach cabin.
At the moment, Richardson said this store

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Take a Tour of Huda Kattan’s Dubai Office

Step inside the office of Huda Kattan, beauty blogger, founder of an international beauty empire, and the woman behind Kim Kardashian’s go-to lashes.
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Boudoir dressing? Walk-of-shame chic? However you name it, there’s nothing more luxurious—or unexpected—than subbing some upgraded loungewear for a slinky slip dress at this year’s holiday fetes. (Just add some bijoux and a good pair of heels and you’ve got one glamorous outfit.) See how five Allure editors style their favorite bedtime staples for a night out.
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Working and Living : Dubai

Working and Living : Dubai

Buy Working and Living by Sarah Woods in Paperback for the low price of 17.35. Find this product in Travel > Middle East – General, Special Interest – Business Travel, International – General.
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Middle Eastern Designers Gain Strength in Dubai

DUBAI — In a region known for its affinity for luxury brands, the appetite for regional designers has been slow to develop. But if the latest edition of Dubai’s Fashion Forward is any indication, that mind set is beginning to change.
More than 75 regional buyers turned out for the four-day event, which included 23 runway shows and presentations, panel discussions and showroom events.
“We started Fashion Forward two years ago to heighten awareness for the design talent we have in this market,” said Bong Guerrero, founder of Fashion Forward. “This platform is the starting point and as the industry becomes more mature, the content keeps getting better, buyers are more interested and consumers more aware.”
Shireen El Khatib is a retail executive known as one of the pioneers in retailing in the region, having introduced countless foreign brands into the market since the early Nineties, from Gucci to Giorgio Armani and department stores Bloomingdale’s and Harvey Nichols. Now she is launching an innovative new concept store called Macramé, focused solely on Middle Eastern brands. Slated to open at the end of the year, the store will be the first of its kind, offering a platform to both established and emerging designers across

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Scorpions Drummer Jailed: James Kottak Reportedly Sentenced For Offensive Behavior In Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Newspapers in the United Arab Emirates are reporting that the American drummer for the rock band Scorpions has been sentenced to one month in jail after being convicted of offensive behavior in Dubai.

The government-backed National newspaper reported Tuesday that James Kottak was convicted of insulting Islam, raising his middle finger and being under the influence of alcohol while in transit at Dubai airport. The Gulf News daily says he was arrested April 3 en route from Russia to Bahrain, where the German band was scheduled to perform at a Formula One race. Kottak was a no-show at the April 5 concert.

The newspapers say Kottak admitted to drinking but denied other charges.

The Scorpions’ manager didn’t respond to requests for comment. Kottak’s local lawyer couldn’t immediately be reached.
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This book is an ideal stop-over guide to Dubai, which attracts over six million arrivals per year. It highlights the city’s myriad shopping options, souqs, malls and shopping centres; is the only Dubai guide with detailed fold-out colour maps; and has concise, opinionated reviews of the best of the city’s hip eateries. The United Arab Emirates is the cheapest place in the Middle East to buy electronics. The Palm resort is visible from outer space. Dubai has the worlds only seven-star hotel, Burj al-Arab, where each suite has its own private butler. Dubai’s multicultural population (more than three-quarters of the population are expats) means restaurants of every description, from Russian to Indo-Pakistani. Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum, a member of Dubai’s ruling family, won the UAEs first ever Olympic medal (gold, of course) at the Athens Olympics, and features in this guide.

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$1499 (+$649 Tax) for a 7-Night Sightseeing Tour of Dubai with Flight & 4-Star Hotel Included ($4496 Value)

City: Toronto
Start Date: January 06, 2014
End Date: January 13, 2014
Value: $ 4496
Price: $ 2148
Purchases: 1
Purchases required: 1


  • Experience the magical and majestic city of Dubai for 8 days and 7 nights!
  • Your daily sightseeing tours are completely taken care of as you visit the capital, go on a Dune Safari, take a Moonlight Dhow Cruise and more.
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  • Check out the Optional Activities for high tea at the Burj Al, visiting Sharjah and Al Ainor, or a tour of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world!
  • All flights, transfers, accommodations, transportation and taxes will be included.

Buy Details:

  • Includes a 7-night sightseeing tour of Dubai.
  • Complete Travel Package includes international round-trip flight, inbound and outbound airport transfers, accommodations in the Star Metro Deira Hotel, all breakfasts, 2 dinners, taxes, free Wi-Fi, and all sightseeing tours with transportation (including free shuttle to the beach) and guide listed on the itinerary.
  • Please call in to register your preferred date with the agency before purchasing. Call Monday – Friday between 10am – 5pm, and
    Saturday – Sunday between 12pm – 6pm (EST).
  • To Book and Register, please call 416-231-8185 or toll-free at 1-866-222-0086.
  • You must book before Feb. 10th.
  • You may call in to book one hour after purchase when your voucher becomes active.
    1. Departure Cities: Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
    2. Departure Dates: March 7 and April 8, 2014.
    3. Please see write-up for full pricing.
  • Prices are per person but based on double occupancy. Fee for single occupancy is $ 399. Flights are with Air Canada and Lufthansa, or British Airways direct from Calgary or Vancouver.
  • Refunds can only be provided before flights are booked. Afterwards, no refunds are allowed.
  • Entrance to Burj al Arab and shopping tour is not included in this offer.
  • Please Note: your email address and phone number will be provided to Exotic Vacations in order to organize the tour.
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Strangely familiar yet wildly exotic, the land of Dubai will wow your senses and leave an imprint like no other with its combination of culture, architecture and extravagance. Experience a 7-Night Sightseeing Tour with Flight Included with today’s deal from Exotic Vacations:

    • $ 1699 (+$ 649 in taxes) per Adult departing on March 7, 2014.
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Situated in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is truly unlike any other place in the world. The towering architecture reaches towards the clouds and stand out on the horizon with a skyline that rivals any Western metropolis. Mixing urban extravagance with old world customs, you’ll experience the best of both worlds and then some with today’s deal for a 7-night sightseeing trip courtesy of Exotic Vacations. Not only will you be provided with international round-trip flight, but you’ll also have the pleasure of staying in the 4-star Star Metro Deira Hotel. While staying in this luxury hotel, you’ll appreciate the modern amenities provided in your room such as satellite TV, climate control, walk-in closet and marble bathroom.

Your week-long tour begins with a journey around the downtown core of Dubai as you can marvel at the modern architectural wonders as well as taking in the history of older mosques and museums. Next day, travel to Abu Dhabi and visit the local markets, take a stroll down the coast and see the many villas and palaces—this is the perfect opportunity to take some pictures of the scenery and the people. The next two days promise equally exotic and enticing excursions: a Dune Safari and Moonlight Dhow Cruise. The first takes place in the desert at a traditional Arabian campsite with tents, a dinner feast, and belly dancers as entertainment. For the cruise, you’ll sail down the Dubai Creek and enjoy dinner and fragrant Arabic coffee while the night sky is lit up by a mix of moonlight and the glow of the city. The trip wraps up with a visit to the world’s only 7-star hotel and a shopping spree to some of the world’s most extravagant indoor mall complexes.

Expires: February 10, 2014
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Live from the Dubai International Film Festival: Wednesday, Dec. 11


Another strong day at the Dubai International Film Festival kicked off for me with a morning press screening of a film I tried to see at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival this past summer – but was denied because of a breakdown in the subtitle technology.

Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox has toured the film festival circuit since then and will open in February 2014 in the U.S. It’s a soulful, thought-provoking tale featuring two central performances that can’t help but stir you.

Nimrat Kaur plays Ila, a Mumbai housewife who dutifully cooks her husband a lavish, multicourse lunch, which she packs in a metal tiffin box. Then a courier picks it up and delivers it by train to the office where her husband works.

(The film’s opening is a brief but fascinating short-course in an incredibly complex lumch-delivery system in Mumbai that somehow seems to work, despite what seems like a dependence on old technology and systems.)

But on this day, her careful preparation of curry, rice and more goes astray – and lands on the desk of a soon-to-retire insurance-claims examiner, Saajan, played by the amazing Irrfan Khan (best known to American audiences for his work in The Namesake, Slumdog Millionaire” and Life of Pi). He’d contracted with a diner near his apartment for lunch for years – but this food was significantly better. So he eats it all.

Which surprises Ila because, apparently, her husband never sends the used lunchbox back looking as though it’s been licked clean, the way Saajan did. She puts a note in with the chapatti bread the next day – and Saajan responds. Before long, they’ve struck up a correspondence, which deepens into an epistolary relationship, though they’ve never met.

The film is a marvel of understatement and intelligence, exploring the loneliness and regret two people are able to express to each other, perhaps because they are strangers. The correspondence changes their outlook, makes them a little more aware of their regrets – and of what they can do to get rid of those regrets and make a fresh start. As one character notes, “Sometimes the wrong train takes you to the right station.” These character studies make The Lunchbox a movie to be keenly anticipated by American audiences.

Louise Archambault’s Gabrielle” had the potential to be something cloying and awful, given its focus on a mentally challenged couple, their romance and the objections of the young man’s mother. Archambault cast Gabrielle Marion-Rivard, a young woman with Williams’ syndrome, in the title role – and she delivers a real performance (as does actor Alexandre Landry, as Martin, the young man she’s in love with).

This commentary continues on my website.
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Live from the Dubai International Film Festival: Monday, Dec. 9


How bad can a film-festival day be when you see four movies – and only one of them is terrible? And the best one is the last one of the day?

That was my Monday at the Dubai International Film Festival.

The best film of the day was a joint production from Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and the USA: Traitors, a film by American filmmaker Sean Gullette (who was the star of Darren Aronofsky’s breakthrough debut, Pi).

Starring newcomer Chaimae Ben Acha as a would-be punk-rocker in Tangier named Malika, the film starts with her meeting with a producer, who tells Malika she likes her songs on the rough demo she sent her. So she’s willing to produce a real demo for Malika and her band, Traitors, and try to get them signed.

One catch: Malika has to come up with the money for the recording studio time, a fairly princely sum for an unemployed singer. “I’m a producer, not an ATM,” the producer notes.

Desperate, Malika takes a job that will earn her all the cash – but which could cost her more. She agrees to help a drug smuggler by driving an SUV into the mountains, where the car’s cavities will be filled with drugs. Then she and another young woman, Amal (Soufia Issami), will drive it back to Tangiers – through the various drug-interdiction roadblocks along the way. But the farther into the job Malika gets, the less she wants to do it.

There are not a lot of actual incidents in the film: no chases or shootouts. Yet Gullette creates real tension, through silences, quiet encounters with the drug lord and the extremely expressive face of Ben Acha. She looks like a cross between Rashida Jones and a young Joan Jett and has the tough swagger of Lisbeth Salander from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books. Issami also brings a blend of the callous and the vulnerable as her new acquaintance and partner in crime. It’s a strong, gripping film from start to finish.

This commentary continues on my website.
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