After spending time in Berlin with Lewis Hamilton and my Ritz-Carlton brand family, our partnership continued on to Dubai for some art and inspiration before heading to the final Grand Prix race in Abu Dhabi. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that Dubai holds a very special place in my heart as the city that kickstarted my blog TravelWriteDraw. Getting to return to the city and experience it with the Ritz-Carlton, Dubai felt like a true full-circle moment. Not to mention the hotel made us all feel so incredibly welcome. Insert heart emoji here!!
We started our adventure with the hotel’s Executive Chef, Rami Almakt, at one of my favorite spots in the city, the Dubai Creek. We crossed the creek in an abra, their traditional wooden boats, to the spice souk where he explained all the different uses for these colorfully fragrant ingredients. Having visited the souks several times before, it was amazing to experience it with someone who could really bring the journey to life with their cooking knowledge.
Normally the men who work at the stalls call me “Spice Girl” but this time they called me “Shakira” and my friend (RC brand partner) Bradley “Pique”. It was quite hilarious and we decided to play up our very famous alter personas as you can see below. There are so many gorgeous little vendors selling lanterns, textiles, and perfumes. I always end up buying slippers and the like. But this time we pretended to shop for our “home” or should I say Shakira’s home haha!
Below is one of the first illustrations I created inspired by the journey. There is nothing quite like an Arabian sunset. I wanted the warmth of the region to pour through the image. Every time I look at this piece it takes me right back. It’s also the first time I’ve attempted to do a painting at sunset. I love that even though the details of the painting are in black, there’s still so much feeling evoked.
When we returned to the hotel from our morning at the souk we get to experience the spa at the Ritz-Carlton, Dubai which was nothing short of divine. By the time we finished our treatments, the signature moment at the hotel was occurring in the majlis (place of gathering). We got to learn some beginner’s Arabic from one of the local Emirati and try out the local coffee and dates, which were extraordinary by the way.
Once we wrapped our signature moment, it was time for dinner under the stars in the bedouin desert inspired restaurant, Amaseena. We had our own tent to ourselves where we got to watch the incredible belly dancer perform, enjoy shisha, and a plethora of different local cuisines including my favorite kofta which is really unique to the region. We had the most incredible time in Dubai before heading to Abu Dhabi in time for the final F1 race.