Monday, May 5, 2008

New Arrivals in an Old Town

The sunny little capital on the Gulf where we live is not, alas, noted for its culinary excellence. The local speciality is goat, whole, roasted and presented on a bed of rice (the lucky guest of honor gets to wrench the head off, snap off the lower jaw, and get first crack at the contents. We strive never to be guest of honor). Colorful, perhaps, but not exactly Cordon bleu.

Nonetheless, we are reaping the fruits of $100+ a barrel oil in various ways, among them the arrival of a number of going-out spots based in that carnival of sin, Dubai. The latest is an Asian-fusion-nouvelle-fussy café called Japengo, which has taken up residence in a stark new pavilion located right in the middle of one of the more popular local beaches. This is all well and good, and it's always lovely to have someplace to get good sushi (that you can also get baba ganoush and chicken Alfredo is some measure of how eclectic the place wants to be). It's startlingly expensive, but for a moment one gets a sense of being out in the Great Wide World.

The real surprise, though, in this still quite conservative place, are the enormous posters, lit from behind, that decorate Japengo's front, facing the sea. Imagine, in a place where the vast majority of women are dressed from stem to stern in black veil and abaya, the effect of this:

Check it out large for the full effect

So far this is the only image in use, but it's apparently part of a larger campaign:

More ladies of vivid hue here

I'm just afraid that, eight feet high and glowing out over the beach in the darkness, the lure of the indigo Venus will be hard for local youth to resist. In a country where, until about two years ago, magazine covers regularly had magic-marker turtlenecks drawn on, anything is possible, and orgiastic frenzies may well result.

I shall have to spend more time at the beach.

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