I felt pretty pleased with myself last week when I cadged an invitation to my cousin Ebani's birthday dinner. She was going out with some friends to the African cuisine restaurant Tribes in the Fashion Dome of Mall of the Emirates and I, surpassing myself in cunningness, suggested how much I would love to come.
There's something about the high-end Fashion Dome that makes you hurriedly check your posture and wish that you owned a pair of Jimmy Choos. It's easy to be intimidated when you have sales assistants from Louboutin and Diane von Furstenberg glaring at you with mascara-rimmed eyes as if you were a badly stitched fake Versace handbag from Karama.
Some of the mystique has rubbed off on the restaurants that surround the designer stores. As such, I've never plucked up the courage to dine in one of them paying with my pocket money. I also try, unsuccessfully, to avoid being seen with the family in a popular teenager haunt such as Mall of the Emirates, so a treat from the parents there throws up logistical problems.
Come birthday night, we strode off to Tribes, plonking ourselves down on rather uneven chairs that I sincerely hope weren't made from the hide of an endangered animal. Sitting was a challenge because the seat was fashionably inclined at an angle, so you had to concentrate hard on not sliding off. The design of the place is quite impressive; if you looked at the walls you could easily imagine a big hut belonging to a tribal chief, albeit one who prefers extremely dim lighting. You can see copious amounts of steam flowing out of a pot in the kitchen as a dramatic artistic touch. It was too steady and too perfect a stream to be believable as real cooking but, nevertheless, it was all very reminiscent of the hyenas' haunt in Disney's The Lion King.
The whole hunting theme was completed when the food arrived - gleaming platters of hunks of meat that had the girls doing cutesy claw-hands and bared teeth grins for photos - most of which ended up on Facebook.
Ebani was particularly pleased with hers: her chicken had been skewered through a pole suspended in the air by a clamp, like one of those dangling rods shawarma-makers scrape meat off. The surprise, though, had just begun: her face registered shock as the traditionally trussed waiters pulled out their drums and kicked into a frenzied rendition of Happy Birthday and set a cake in front of her. Some diners even leapt up to dance to the beat, though most of us self-conscious teenagers cowered in our chairs and grinned at each other sheepishly.
The non-committal act was hard to keep up as, with blood curdling warrior cries, they launched into an energetic performance of Shakira's Waka Waka. By this time, they had moved to the entrance of the restaurant and were drawing a small crowd of shoppers from the mall - quite a clever publicity move. Still, I'm not complaining. When you've eaten as much Melktert - a lovely cinnamon-dusted cheesecake - as I did, not even a Shakira aural assault can dampen your spirits.
The writer is a 17-year-old student living in Dubai.