x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 February 2018

Paris and Nicky Hilton’s whirlwind weekend in Dubai

In an exclusive interview with The National, Paris and Nicky Hilton talk about the Middle East, BFFs that are not necessarily for forever and partying at the opening of Clé Dubai

Paris Hilton DJs while her sister Nicky takes a photo at the opening of Clé Dubai. Courtesy Arian Marcos / Katch PR
Paris Hilton DJs while her sister Nicky takes a photo at the opening of Clé Dubai. Courtesy Arian Marcos / Katch PR

Forever is a long time in celebrity circles – especially when you win a reality TV show to become Paris Hilton’s new BFF (best friend forever).

The celebrity socialite came to the UAE in 2009 to film Paris Hilton’s Dubai BFF.

She was back in town this weekend and, during an exclusive interview with The National in her suite at The Address Downtown Dubai, we couldn’t resist asking how she was getting along these days with Reem Al Alnezi, the Kuwaiti winner of the show.

“I talked to her like a year ago,” says Hilton. “She’s a very nice person, but when you’re meeting someone through a reality show, it’s kind of ...”

Fake? After all, she did accumulate several other BFFs in a series of similar shows around the same time. Even in 2011, when we caught up with her during a visit, she seemed to be cooling on the whole idea of competitive BFFs, saying: “I’ve really enjoyed doing it, but I have enough BFFs.”

Now, five years on, she is refreshingly honest about the experience.

“I’m a businesswoman,” says Hilton. “It was like a free commercial for my handbag line, my fragrances, my make up line ... so I thought of it as a business deal — it wasn’t like I’m looking for friends on TV.”

It was business that brought the 33-year-old to the emirates – she had been hired to perform a DJ set at the glitzy opening of the hot new restaurant concept Clé Dubai, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

However Hilton, who was travelling with younger sister, Nicky, found plenty of time for pleasure, too, posting videos of The Dubai Fountain, picking up a gown and clutches from Studio 8 Fashion in Dubai Mall, and posing for pictures with monkeys and leopards at the private zoo of the boutique’s founder, Sarah Belhasa.

While Paris is something of a regular visitor to the UAE, the trip was the first visit for Nicky, a designer who last month published the book 365 Style, but she said that she was a big fan of regional fashion.

“[In the Middle East, people] have so much fun with accessories, beautiful, unique jewellery, and everyone has the most fabulous handbag,” she says. “Everyone has great taste.”

The sisters spent Friday and Saturday night partying at Clé Dubai, which is in DIFC.

Other celebrity guests at the weekend bash included supermodels Alessandra Ambrosio and Irina Shayk, Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan, rapper Akon – and the Hiltons’ friend Khloé Kardashian, who turned up on Saturday in a figure-hugging, backless off-white dress.

“It was a lot of fun [to see Khloé],” said Paris. “We actually flew over together from LA. We’ve known each other since we were little.

“It was a really great party — everyone had so much fun. I think Clé is going to be an amazing place for people to go.”

For her part, on Saturday night Paris looked stunning in a clubby black dress from Alice + Olivia, while Nicky sported a long-sleeved offering with geometric patterns and sheer panels.

The brainchild of Michelin-starred chef Greg Malouf, an Australian of Lebanese descent, Clé aims to offer fresh fusions of “contemporary Middle Eastern” food.

Are the Hiltons fans of the region’s flavours?

“So much,” says Nicky, “it’s literally my favourite cuisine.”

“Me too,” Paris chimes in, “when we grew up, every Thursday night we would have Lebanese and Middle Eastern food, our whole life.”

With a reported net worth of about US$100 million (Dhs367m), some might wonder where Hilton gets the motivation to work at all.

“It runs in our blood”, says Paris. “The Hilton family all do big things. We are very determined, hardworking people.

“I live one of the most exciting lives in the world — I get paid to have fun, play music, entertain people and have the time of my life wherever I go, so I feel very blessed.”

The last time Hilton was spotted out and about in these parts was behind the decks at Dubai’s Cavalli Club in December.

Despite bagging recent headline Ibiza gigs, Paris’s switch from socialite to international DJ hasn’t exactly been trouble-free — withhouse-music veterans such as Paul Oakenfold queuing up to poor on scorn.

At Clé, Hilton played things safe, dropping remixes of sure-fire hits such as Get Lucky, Happy and Show Me Love, withmixing kept to a minimum and minders close at hand — presumably to ensure there wasn’t another Sao Paulo-style meltdown, Hilton’s notorious DJ debut during which she attempted to sing her own Last Night over a Rihanna song after miscuing the track.

Since then Hilton says she has “learnt so much” about DJing, and readily lists the various software she’s progressed through (newsflash, Serato fans: Hilton switched up to Traktor Kontrol S8 just last week).

“It’s very technical,” she explains. “It’s not like you just press play, there’s a lot that goes into it.

“I’m playing all around the world and I’m very proud of what I’ve built.”

Clé Dubai, at Al Fattan Currency House, DIFC, in Dubai, is open daily, from noon until 2am. Call 04 352 5150 to book a table

rgarratt@thenational.ae