Socialite Paris Hilton might have her eye on the presidential suite at the InterContinental in Dubai Festival City while she is filming her new reality TV series, but she'll have to fight another lover of luxury for it. Our snouts tell us the former British prime minister's wife, Cherie Blair, has beaten her to it and has been revelling this week in one of the luxurious apartments, complete with free-standing bathtub and on-call butler.
Mrs Blair, whose husband Tony is now a regular visitor to these parts as a Middle Eastern envoy, was speaking at the Institute of Travel and Tourism conference in Dubai earlier in the week. Says our insider: "Paris may be staying in one of the three presidential suites but she will have to wait for Cherie to leave first. They are booked back to back."
Ironically, fashion photography has long been dominated by men, so it is of particular interest that a young Emirati woman has successfully entered the field. Branding herself Lady Design, Emirati fashion photographer Fatma Abdullah's second solo exhibition opened on Sunday and will run until the end of June at Wafi Mall's Khan Murjan Gallery in Dubai. Ms Abdullah has been fascinated by photography since early childhood, prompting her to obtain a Higher Diploma in Communication Art from the Higher Colleges of Technology in 2001 and, in 2003, establishing her own photography company, Lady Design. "I've always felt my camera can speak on my behalf," she said. "It interprets my feelings effortlessly and delivers my messages accurately." She is currently working on her first book on fashion photography, which we are eagerly anticipating.
Dubai's freshest bands will be given an opportunity to inspire the city's creative hands next week at the latest offering from the ever active Jam Jar gallery and event centre in Al Quoz. Tim Hassall and The August Company, Beat Antenna and Gandhi's Cookbook will be performing live to the backdrop of a mural painted by you, the audience. Attendees will be invited to step into the Jam Jar's lounge to create their own piece of art on canvas, with the music to inspire creativity. At the end of the night, everyone will be allowed to take their art home with them. The event, Candy Riot, will be held next Saturday, June 30, at 7.30pm. Call 04-3427303 for details.
A group calling themselves Artisans of the Emirates, or ARTE, caught our attention when we learnt that members' arts and crafts are all handmade by them, then sold at monthly markets in Times Square Mall in Dubai. The markets are generally held on the second Friday of every month, and although we missed this month's instalment, products can still be purchased online.
The artists work on providing a competitively priced platform to allow locally based artisans to promote their UAE-made craft, and do so by selling their art on www.arte.ae. ARTE is always open for new members to join, so if you've been pottering around in your backyard making necklaces out of palm leaves, there might be a market out there for you.
We've recently received word that a local charity is going to auction a football in the capital, signed by some surprisingly prominent people, to raise money for underprivileged children. Although we really aren't free to share any details, we do know the action gets under way on Monday, and will trigger a saving scheme wherein children around the UAE will be encouraged to save money for the charity. The auction itself is not until Sept 28, and we promise to provide you with more juicy titbits on this before then. * The National