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29 April, 2006

Beach wail

Despite its ever-extending coastline and endless promotion of its year-round sun, sea and sand, Dubai does not have a single beach cafe. Excepting ludicrously overpriced tourist traps at five star hotels, where the general public must pay hundreds of dirhams just to access the beach, there is not a single beach-side cafe in the entire emirate. (The cafe at Jumeirah Beach Park is also excepted, as the park is paid entry. Besides which its menu is a foul obesity-hastening horror of grease and junk).

What is surely needed is something like Lime Tree cafe next to a stretch of public beach, such as the Russian beach, Wollongong University beach, or north-of-the-Burj beach. Fresh juices, healthy snacks and sandwiches, a range of good ice creams, and perhaps a selection of suncreams, sun-glasses and the like. Nice wooden tables where one can sit in comfort - air conditioned in summer - and enjoy a sunset drink while watching the sun sink gently into the smog.

Despite the huge crowds of all nationalities that gather on Dubai's beaches in intense heat and sun all year round, for some reason there is not a single cafe remotely like this. Perhaps the hotels form a kind of cartel on beach side catering, preventing all but five-star tourists from enjoying the sea view? Or perhaps a beach side cafe is considered the ultimate in local-youth-corrupting western depravity - an excuse to linger in comfort with a bird's eye view of exposed flesh?

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Blogger Minkey Chief said...

I'm first! And also remembering the beach cafes in Muscat - nothing fancy, but great grilled squid, mishkaak and shishas as you watch the sun squelch itself out in the sea.

29 April, 2006 09:01  
Blogger kingfisher said...

SD -
Very good point. But what can you expect from this bunch after all? People keep thinking this is the civilized world, but it just isn't. It's that simple and that complicated.

Welcome home!


29 April, 2006 09:35  
Blogger Shaper85 said...

I haven't been to the beach since I was a child... but I distinctly remember there being little snack shops on the beach - nothing close to the Lime Tree Cafe - but they did sell packets of crisps, made basic sandwiches and sold beach balls and various other knickknacks. I'm guessing that beach gentrification got rid of them.

29 April, 2006 10:53  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

The Russian beach? Where is this? How did I miss this?

I think the reason we don't see many beach cafes is the bureaucratic minefield you'd have to negotiate to set one up - especially one that might take trade away from the 5 star hotels, makes the whole business not worth doing.

29 April, 2006 11:08  
Blogger Frances said...

Very good point,just can't understand why it has never been done. Good plug for LT cafe

29 April, 2006 12:04  
Blogger al-republican said...

Why do some of you have to attack Arabs ALL the time?

Common, guys, you all are grown ups!

29 April, 2006 12:12  
Blogger Harsha said...

well till about a year ago, went with my family to the beach(open beach) every other friday morning. Now there hardly is any of it left.

but while there was, facing the beach - extreme right was what we reffered to as the 'Russian Beach' and the extreme left was what we would term as the 'Kiddie Beach'.

29 April, 2006 12:20  
Blogger Harsha said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

29 April, 2006 12:24  
Blogger Keef said...

Tim: the 'Russian Beach' AKA 'Natasha Baeach', is the one at the top end of Jumeirah, beside the Dubai Marine Beach Resort. So-called because of the preponderence of Russians, many of whom like to sunbathe standing up.

However, it's a total building site at the moment.

29 April, 2006 13:12  
Blogger Lou said...

Unfortunately once again, Dubai decided to turn one of its greatest assets into a mass of concrete buildings rather than keep the wonderful clean white beaches that once lined the entire Beach Road and beyond.

For those of you that knew the area in the 80's, you will remember a nice quiet road with a fabulous view of the sea, a few scattered houses and mosques, some small local shops at the side of the road which sold flip flops, inflatables and snorkels etc. oh, and a few cows and goats crossing the road without warning!!
You could take your pick of the beach (my little hidden paradise had a lovely palm tree that I used to sit under to watch the world go by) and you were very rarely bothered by any stray oglers (not on today's scale anyway). Mina Seyahi was home to the annual raft race (fab it was!) and BBQ's on a Friday with the family.

New Dubai or old Dubai? I know which i'd choose!!

29 April, 2006 13:33  
Blogger hannibal said...

i agree with desert lady..

in fact till about 2000-2001, the beach was pretty ok.

then 'freehold' mania set in and all hell broke loose !

sad !

29 April, 2006 14:07  
Blogger One Nine Seven One said...

Its the hotels themselves, i am sure...

But if that isnt the case, then I amazed that we can think laterally enough to build a ski slope with real snow, yet cannot think of a simple straight forward concept as a beach side cafe.

29 April, 2006 14:48  
Blogger samuraisam said...

It all falls under the fact that once the public beach is completely gone, or the little that is left drives every single person/tourist to hotels in desperation, and you have to pay for entry to the beachfront, and put up with the annoying fucking arrogant shit head tourists.

It's no coincedence that a few dozen hotels have taken over the public beaches; they are a valuable commodity and will be treated as such, once all of teh public beach is gone they'll be getting bundles and bundles of cash every hour of the day.

I remember having to go for a photo-shoot down the beach near mina seyahi, on the verge of full out summer, and we had to get this American family on a camel so they could send their photo to their friends and family back home- anyway, long story short, the beach wasn't there anymore. It'd disappeared.

It's a sad direction that Dubai is taking, but I think it may be necessary, hotels wouldn't be here if there wasn't any revenue; it's sort of like everything else here, they want a monopoly on the beach, and you won't be able to get decent access without handing over big bags of money to some crappy hotel.

29 April, 2006 15:00  
Blogger shi_u said...

@ Minkey Chief:

Would love to see the sun, gently setting in the sea off Muscat. But wait, isn’t Muscat located in the East Coast, and the sun usually sets in the West? Did I miss something???

29 April, 2006 17:36  
Blogger Lehihamra said...

Went on a trip to Jordan last year and spent a wonderful evening in a beach cafe in Aqaba - there were loads of them, with tables and chairs stretching right down to the water and waiters bringing coffee, juice and shishas. The stars twinkling above, the breeze coming off the sea - bliss.

29 April, 2006 18:19  
Blogger moryarti said...

there is one positive aspect about the shrinking public beaches: we get to see less of those "certain individuals" who decide to take a quick dip in their tighty whities ...

29 April, 2006 20:58  
Blogger Nuppo said...

Hey happy Dubai people, I know that all of you are always happy to make fun of the other "lesser" emirates...Try to head down to Ajman (u can find at leat one starless pub with wooden tables with decent food - try the seafood sizzler). If you are looking to find nice beaches (with less pollution) try the wild emirate of UAQ. Recently, I have been in some hidden starless "resorts" in UAQ which are actually quite funny and less polluted (talking about Flamingo Resort or the richly decorated Palm Resort). Of course, you won't find James and George knocking down pints there...and no valet parking either. More traditionally there is Mamzar Beach on the Dubai/Sharjah frontier - but that is if you don't mind watching Palm Deira being built while u suntan. (pollution can vary greatly).

29 April, 2006 23:49  
Blogger al-republican said...

I came across this excellent article on MSNBC about the economic boom of Dubai. It is over 4 parts and the article talks about economic prosperity; the changing landscape; labor rights; and human rights.

I find this article pretty comprehensive and it would serve as a good read for anyone who wants to read about Dubai in a nutshell:-


30 April, 2006 20:24  
Blogger GMJ said...

"considered the ultimate in local-youth-corrupting western depravity - an excuse to linger in comfort with a bird's eye view of exposed flesh?"

- ha ha ha. *yawn*

01 May, 2006 12:53  
Blogger ironcurtain24 said...

how can i understand that?
" we get to see less of those "certain individuals" who decide to take a quick dip in their tighty whities ..." :-)
are the locals really like that? .. i dont think soo.. they are nice and polite people, who doesnt offend anybody... :-)

07 May, 2006 03:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There some photos of the Raft Race at
including the first Raft Race in 1972

30 December, 2006 04:03  

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