Well, we went there and back again, and I have to say we had a lovely time. I hope a little Tiresome Travel Blogging won't offend too many. I will try to leaven it with trenchant social commentary and can promise at least one genuine Star Sighting, if that will help.
We started our little whirlwind getaway, Mr. Muscato and I, with a couple of days at a glamourous desert resort, just the place to unwind, relax, and stare at sand:
This is the view from our suite, really a sort of pavilion, which came with canvas roof, lovely wraparound teak deck, and (the place's big selling point) our own Private Plunge Pool. Which was exactly as much decadent fun as that sounds. The place also prides itself on its exciting desert activities, but they struck both of us as far too strenuous, and we limited ourselves to more leisurely pursuits:
Here we see Mr. Muscato exercising vigourously in the complex's main pool, which lies just outside its splendid spa, itself just down the hill from a central building that recalls something along the lines of an (even more) Arabesque San Simeon.
The cook, who is apparently Kenyan, is a Genius, and that's all I can say. We feasted, we sunned, we spa-ed, and, after an all too short two days, we headed into Dubai proper.
The Death of Dubai, to steal from Mr. Clemens, is a claim highly exaggerated. The place seemed somewhat less jammed than it had last year, but the restaurants, malls, cafés, and nightclubs (at least the generous sampling of each that we tried) seemed unaffected by Total Global Malaise.
Above is the view from our room at a local hostelry. The yellow structure at the right is in fact the Dubai Metro under construction; when complete, this neo-monorail will snake through much of the city, most of it above-ground. Here, at least, it will give a bird's-eye view of the hotel pool.
We really did keep busy. In addition to the obligatory spa-time (why else does one travel?), we actually caught some culture: we went to the Dubai Art Fair. If you ever want to know what the au courant sheikh is looking for in the way of a sofa painting, I can now tell you. Actually, some of it was rather splendid, and certainly no expense was spared in turning the massive Madinat Jumeirah hotel/ballroom complex that was the venue into a worthy rival to Basel, Miami, or other similar Art destination.
The highlight, from my perspective, was an incredible exhibition of jewels by Van Cleef & Arpels, ranging from the tiara that Princess Grace wore to her daughter Caroline's (first) wedding to some bracelets of the Duchess of Windsor to some amazing examples of their signature "Mystery" pavé settings. I especially lusted after a truly jaw-dropping necklace-collar of carved emeralds, diamonds, and pearls. So practical.
Joining us in ooh-ing and ah-ing was none other than Miss Glenn Close, in town we later read to lecture to film students one Emirate over and looking charming in what can only be referred to as Resort Wear (patterned raw silk tunic over loose linen trousers that Mother Muscato would have referred to as Palazzo Pants). I did the usual double-take and caught the lady's eye just in time to look fascinatedly at a brooch of Barbara Hutton's. She seemed relieved both to have been recognized and not to have been approached - simultaneously, I suppose, validated and unbothered. She has gorgeous skin.
We caught up with the many Boys of Dubai who form our cercle in the Emirates, hearing all the latest gossip (considerable) of course, and among other things having a lovely dinner at the Yacht Club, a creekside venue with to-die-for views.
We also hit one of the evening establishments much favored by Confirmed Bachelors and can solidly affirm that there is no shortage of them in these parts. And they tend to wear regrettable club clothes, but to have the bodies to get away with them.
Finally - and for the first time ever, which suprised even us - we took advantage of one of Dubai's legendary Friday pastimes: the Depraved Champagne Brunch. Above we see an impressionistic study of one of the other brunchers, who represents the greater part of the clientèle: gangs of British gals, scary hen parties clad almost uniformly in acid-colored sack-shaped minidresses, vertiginous faux-Blahniks (Fauxniks?), and extreme coiffures. This is very definitely the Look of the Moment, for what it's worth, should you find yourself brunching in these parts any time soon.
So what did we learn, on our little sojourn out of the ordinary? We learned to love phrases like "at your service, sir," and "pillow menu". We learned that Bad Festival Art (only slightly leavened with better stuff) is now truly an international commodity, and that Glenn Close is not as short as you expect most movie people to be (she does have the requisite big head, though, to look good on camera). We learned that we like not working very much, thank you, but, perhaps best of all, we learned that we were glad to come home to our quiet little Sultanate and the unbridled affection of Koko.
So what's next?