City of Life

Last night I went to see the first full-length film made here in the UAE; it is called City of Life, is set in Dubai and was directed by a young (and not unattractive) man called Ali Mostafa (pictured below). I ran into him at an even earlier this year and was thrilled to find we have so much in common. For example, we’re both in the Ahlan Hot 100. Yes, one of the few advantages of being in the Ahlan Hot 100 is that you get to bother fellow hotties.

Anyway, the film is OK, really very good in parts. Although some of the dialogue is so trite it makes you squirm in your seat and the acting (especially by one of the female leads) reminded me of myself in the only play I was ever in at Durham where the critic wrote about my “purely decorative role”. At the time I was so stupid I took that as a compliment. Actually this particular ‘actress’ wasn’t even pretty enough to warrant that damning praise.

The three main characters are a rich Emirati, an East European air stewardess and an Indian taxi driver who dreams of being a Bollywoood star. Of all of them he is by far the most sympathetic and believable; I longed for him to make it. Funnily enough I thought it was the rich Emirati who was the one with least hope, despite his money and red Ferrari.

It was really interesting to see life here on the big screen and I hope there will be many more films as a result of this pioneering one. Although my friend Justine may disagree, she left halfway through. I obviously stayed on just in case the director pitched up….

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010

How a very small minority lives

Picture the scene: I am doing yoga looking out over a 90 degree view of Jumeirah Beach in Dubai from the comfort of the 34th floor. Someone is pressing the dress I am going to wear this evening to dinner with my husband in a private dining room. Two cleaners are mopping up the Jacuzzi room. Our butler has just served Rupert’s cup of Japanese green tea.

No I am not dreaming….we are celebrating Rupert’s birthday in the Imperial suite at the Fairmont Hotel in Dubai. It is a suite made for what the French would call a famille nombreuse with three double bedrooms, countless bathrooms, a bar and at least three offices. Oh and did I mention the Jacuzzi?

It is a comforting feeling having countless staff at your beck and call, ensuring you have a lovely life, that you are massaged (we had a double aromatherapy massage this afternoon), fed (they keep bringing fruit and chocolate) and watered (the champagne is on ice). I feel like a princess, which is something you can really only get to experience if you are very rich, or a lucky journalist.

And to think I was considering giving up journalism for a more lucrative career; seems to me the best option would be to stay and enjoy the perks. Now where’s my butler….?

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010

Pink champagne and a yellow lamborghini

Tuesday night I stayed in Dubai. I was there for the Emirates Woman of the Year Award and went to it with my friend Keeley. She is an extraordinary women. Always up to some high-powered madcap thing or other. Her list of friends (apart from me) reads like a who’s who in the UAE. She should have been up for the award of Emirates woman of the year but they’re not on to her yet.

Anyway I might have known a night with Keeley would not be normal. But little did I envisage it would end with me being driven up the Sheikh Zayed Road at 5am in a yellow Lamborghini.

I have to say there are worse ways to get home. This is a car that roars instead of purrs and goes like the clappers. Thankfully I had drunk too much pink champagne to be freaked out, but I think the journey from one end of town to the other took about three seconds.

My driver, a very nice local gentleman, had the music on.

“Could you turn it off please?” I asked him. “I want to hear the engine.”

I think he realised then he was dealing with a lunatic, which is probably why he drove so fast.

Needless to say I felt horrible yesterday. And I realise now why I am so much happier hanging out with the kids and going to bed at 9pm than sitting in bars drinking and smoking cigars (yes, I know I don’t smoke, but I forgot).

Rupes was very sweet and said it was good for me to go out and have fun once in a while. I think once every four years might be enough. Keeley tells me this sort of evening happens to her at least three times a week. She really should win an award.

I am now going to stay home for a few years but if I am ever brave enough to go out with Keeley again I hope I end up in a red Ferrari and I remember to drink water and that I don’t smoke.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009