x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

'I like being a little bit off the beaten track'

Home & away Axel Jarosch is the general manager of Per Aquum's Desert Palm in Dubai. He divides his time between his home at Desert Palm and Muscat.

Axel Jarosch loves Dubai's multicultural society.
Axel Jarosch loves Dubai's multicultural society.

Axel Jarosch is the general manager of Per Aquum's Desert Palm in Dubai. Born in Iran in 1966, he spent nearly 30 years in the Far East and has called many places home, including Thailand, Venezuela, Singapore, The Philippines, Germany, China, Sri Lanka, and now, the UAE. He divides his time between his home at Desert Palm and Muscat, where his wife and her three children live.

I spent two years living and working in Oman, in Muscat, and I fell in love with the region. There was something about the Gulf, also about Oman and Dubai, and I really just felt a connection. I loved the climate, I liked the people. It was vibrant, it was hip, it was happening.

Until now, home has been where my furniture is. For the first time in my life, I've had to think about kids and converting one of the bedrooms into a child-friendly room and buying a lot of toys and that sort of thing. And it is so much fun. We are building a house at the moment - creating a new home, a new home for all of us. We are creating new memories together, so that is a wonderful thing.

The one thing I have learnt working in the industry, is what I like and what I don't like from a design point of view. And this slight minimalistic approach is something that has always stuck.

The idea (behind the hotel at Desert Palm) was to be able to provide a common meeting place for all the residences. And it works quite well - the majority of our guests are actually residents from the estate. The two restaurants are more like dining rooms, but mind you, very fancy, very modern chic dining rooms. When I first joined here, this interaction between the residences and the resort did not exist. So the first thing I did was implement a monthly gathering where we invite all the residents to come up, and we throw a nice cocktail party with some canapes and snacks.

I feel like a cocktail myself, like a cosmopolitan. I don't really have a sense of national identity. You are thrown into so many different kinds of cultures and that is what I love about Dubai; it's such a multicultural society. Law dictates that I am a German but everything else tells me that I could fit in anywhere.

As an expatriate, you build much faster friendships then you would if you were continuously in one place. Everybody you know is in that place for a short time. If you were to be in London or anywhere else, and you were continuously there you would certainly be a lot more conscious about who you would let into your life. Here, basically we are all sitting in the same boat.

This is what I love about Dubai, the variety. I love the diversity. I like being a little bit off the beaten track. I want to explore new things. There are times when I want to switch off - I need my time to do something else and learn something new. For example, in Sri Lanka, I got my peace on a surfboard, surfing. Because it was a beach-front resort, I could switch off by being on the water for six hours surfing. I am still looking for that here, and that is the fun part.

No matter where I was, it was always important for me to have my own elements in that house or apartment or hotel room or whatever I had. Just to be able to have that opportunity to say "OK, that is mine. I may not own the walls, but at least I own the bed."

When I go home at night, I come to a venue where I feel safe and I can close the door behind me and say "OK, the world is shut out now, and now I am at home." One room is dedicated to the time I was in Asia, for example, or one room only has the pictures of the maritime maps that date back to 150-300 years. One room has all of my pictures from the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles, and Mauritius. And this sort of thing I have always maintained wherever I am. As much as I don't want to be boring and conform, I do need that amount of structure.

The most important things for me are my pictures, my books, and the odd piece of furniture. But the pictures are a big deal for me. I collect old sea maps and this sort of thing. I am alone here most of the time, so I need that comfort around me.

I've always collected little pieces here and there and they end up being your memories that you keep with you. And a memory can be in the form of a beautiful writing table or a nice carpet. When I was working in Namibia, the owner of the lodge I was working for gave me a farewell present - a beautiful zebra skin, which is tacky and politically incorrect, but I really, really like it. It's memories like that you create around yourself that, wherever you are, you are at home.

For the first time in a long time I really want to stay longer here, because of the new condition, or new situation I am in with the family, and because I just think this is just a fantastic location. There will come a time when I will want to settle down, definitely. I don't' know if this is the time, but I think it could be. I have lived out of a suitcase long enough.