Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 August 2019

Review: Dubai’s Dinner in the Sky a once-in-a-lifetime experience but not for the faint-hearted

The aerial concept, which sees 22 diners at a time hoisted 50 metres in the air over Dubai Marina, is arguably the most unique way to enjoy a meal anywhere in the world.
Guests being lifted up for the Dinner in the Sky in Dubai. Courtesy DMN
Guests being lifted up for the Dinner in the Sky in Dubai. Courtesy DMN

Dinner in the Sky has made its way back on to the UAE food scene.

The big dinner table in the clouds, which debuted at Dubai Marina this week and elevates diners 50 metres into the air, will be a permanent fixture in the emirate for at least the next three months.

One of the world’s most unique dining initiatives, Dinner in the Sky is not for the faint-hearted. As one of the first people to strap in and reach for the sky, I can tell you that while it is definitely one for the bucket list, you should not underestimate the fear factor.

After signing an obligatory disclaimer acknowledging the risks and being shuttled to the location, opposite Skydive Dubai at Dubai International Marine Club, it was with sweaty palms and a quickened heart rate that I climbed into one of the 22 bucket seats for the 55-minute culinary-inspired flight of fancy.

In pictures: a look up at Dubai’s Dinner in the Sky experience

Suffice to say that for all the cool vibes I had mustered before I arrived, my nerves were anything but calm when I realised there was no glass platform under foot, just a small footrest and the desert air around my ankles.

As a safety crew member strapped me in – with a harness over each shoulder and around my waist – I began thinking: “It’ll be fine, 50 metres isn’t that high, is it? Oh my gosh, what am I doing?”

Once everyone was secure, the crane slowly lifted us into the air, a process that took less than 10 minutes. Surprisingly, on the way up, the platform did not move much – if it had, I think I would have been even more terrified, the swaying of the light shades was enough for me.

Halfway up, I discovered the answer to my earlier question: yes, 50m is high – and 55 minutes started to feel like eternity.

“I think half the time would work for me,” says a blogger seated next to me, who also had the jitters.

I was fine when I looked out at the horizon – but it was a whole other story when it came to looking down, which I could not do, at least not for the first 35 minutes or so. And, in true scaredy-cat style, I never went as far as swivelling my seat around to get the 360-degree view.

That said, the scenery was certainly amazing. No matter which seat you are in, you are guaranteed an Instagrammable view – whether of the marina itself, The Beach at JBR, Atlantis the Palm, the Burj Al Arab or the Burj Khalifa. If you are not happy with your initial vista, do not worry, because halfway through the sitting the platform rotates 180 degrees.

But what about the food? I joined a brunch session, in which I was served a fruit platter and a muffin and croissant to start, followed by scrambled eggs on toast with hash brown, tomato and sausage on the side, tea and coffee.

All meals are catered by the Ritz- Carlton JBR, and it is worth noting that if you have a special dietary requirement, you need to make it known at the time of booking.

The food was OK, but it was not exactly gastronomy at its finest – after all, it has to be transportable and easy to prepare, so don’t expect Michelin-star quality or you’ll be disappointed. For me, the experience is more about the view than the food.

There were four catering crew members onboard, who were all pleasant and, in between serving, were more than happy to take photos for us. Their service was accompanied by music that mostly includes tunes with a sky theme (think Coldplay’s Sky Full of Stars).

Shortly after the main meal was served, it was time to let us down gently. At this point, I finally plucked up the nerve to look directly down – for some reason it always seems easier when you’re headed that way.

Dinner in the Sky originated in Belgium, and has hosted more than 5,000 events in 40 cities worldwide since 2006, including in Abu Dhabi in 2013 and Dubai in recent years for corporate events.

Although the idea is not new to Dubai this is the first time it has been open to the general public.

“Dubai is one of the best cities in the world,” says Ahmed Ishbair, the managing director of High Sky Events, the company behind the UAE concept.

“It has the view, the weather, the environment and we are very happy to be here.”

• Arts&Life was a guest of Dinner in the Sky. It is available seven days a week. Sessions start at 2.40pm on weekdays and at 11.50am at the weekend. Prices start from Dh499 per person. Bookings can be made at www.dinnerinthesky.ae

mhealy@thenational.ae

Updated: January 11, 2017 04:00 AM

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