x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Paris asks, are you ready for me, Dubai?

The UAE is rolling out the pink carpet for the pampered American socialite Paris Hilton, arriving to film her new reality show.

Paris Hilton will soon be coming to Dubai, though perhaps without her chihuahua.
Paris Hilton will soon be coming to Dubai, though perhaps without her chihuahua.

Pink caviar? Check. Pink chocolates and flowers? Check. A hotel suite entirely bedecked in pink? Check, check and check. Hotel staff scurrying around Dubai frantically shopping for everything pink can only mean one thing - the Paris Hilton bandwagon is preparing to roll into town. The 28-year-old model, famous the world over simply for being famous, is preparing to film a UAE version of her television series My New BFF (best friend forever) over the next three weeks - and Dubai is bracing itself. The show will pit 12 contestants against each other in 13 one-hour programmes as they compete to become Paris's new best friend. Short of close pals since her Simple Life co-star Nicole Ritchie became a mother, and newly single after splitting from her boyfriend Doug Reinhardt earlier this week, Paris is said to be keen on meeting like-minded souls from the Middle East and has picked out potentials from 300 applicants. As she whittles down the shortlist, she will boot them off the show with her now-famous catchphrase TTYN - talk to you never. Previous series filmed in America and Britain have seen her egging on the young women to strip down to bikinis and pole-dance in front of gangs of jeering men. But producers have promised that the Dubai show will be sensitive to local religious and cultural ­sensibilities. The blonde and occasionally outrageous celebrity icon, who is rarely seen in public without her favourite pampered pooch, a female chihuahua called Tinkerbell, tucked under her arm, was born with a golden spoon in her mouth, granddaughter of the hotel magnate Barron Hilton, whose family founded Hilton Hotels. Embarrassed by her bizarre antics, however, he pledged two years to give 97 per cent of his estimated US$2.3 billion (Dh8.5bn) estate to a charitable organisation, thus depriving Miss Hilton of an expected $51m inheritance. Despite this blow, money remains no object. Having found employment as a model, actress and musician, Miss Hilton amassed a rather nice paycheque of $7m for a year's work in 2006. Her extravagance is well-documented and extends to her beloved pet dogs - at one time she had 17 - who live a life of luxury in a dog mansion, a model replica of their owner's own LA home, complete with a swimming pool, crystal chandelier, balconies, wardrobes and air conditioning. So what will she make of Dubai and will the city match up to her bling standards? Absolutely, says Alexandra Dokic of Xiva Jewels, whose bespoke gold and diamond-studded false nails are snapped up by women across the Middle East, despite their prohibitive Dh21,000 starting price. If anything, Paris will have to raise the bar. "She looks quite conservative compared with some of the women I've seen," says Ms Dokic. "I think someone of her calibre is going to be blown away by the gold and jewellery on offer here. No one celebrates bling like women in the Middle East. "I have seen necklaces a lord mayor would consider wearing. She needs to come here to see how it is done properly." Ms Dokic has already picked out the perfect manicure for Paris: a nail base made of solid rose gold with a total of 200 18-carat embedded diamonds, spare change for the heiress at Dh180,000. "She's a girl who likes her sparkle so she would have to have the full works," she said. "She's got to have the Rolls-Royce treatment - there is no point in going by donkey or taxi." At the Dubai headquarters of Bling H2O, a bottled water given a bling twist with a smattering of Swarovski crystals, pushing the price up to Dh130 for a 375ml bottle and Dh250 for 750ml, bosses were scouring their supplies for their limited edition Paris Pink and Tinkerbell Pink brands, named after the heiress and her beloved chihuahua respectively. The company, supplier to UAE Royal Family weddings, is poised to launch its Dubai series, which will feature bottles covered in more than 10,000 crystals in the shape of the Dubai skyline with a hefty Dh15,000 price tag to match. While Paris will no doubt be a big fan, she will have to wait until August to buy the water from the Tennesse mountains when it goes on sale exclusively at Harvey Nichols. Meanwhile, frantic preparations have been under way at the Intercontinental in Dubai Festival City, where Paris will take over the Dh5,250-a-night presidential suite complete with on-call butlers and an enormous, freestanding bathtub offering a view across Festival Marina and the Manhattan-esque skyline. Staff have been racking their brains for inventive means to turn everything - from bed linen to food - to her favourite shade of cerise. The pink champagne will be flowing and hotel chefs have been busy concocting rose-tinged recipes to tickle her tastebuds. A source said: "We drew the line at repainting the entire suite pink but otherwise, any suggestion is being considered." If Paris decides to venture into the city, she will have her pick of luxury travel options. Helicopters permanently based on three helipads a stone's throw from the Intercontinental can be hired by the hour, while deluxe car companies specialise in hiring out the wheels she favours, from her Bentley Continental GT to her Ferrari 360 Spyder - although a Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren might be an unpleasant reminder of the jail term she served for drink-driving. Shahid Mustafa, of one such company, Royal Drive Dubai, said: "Unfortunately, we don't have any pink cars but she could hire a white Bentley for Dh4,000 a day or Dh5,000 with her own driver." Early indications are that the glamorous socialite is somewhat clueless about the restrictions she might face in the UAE. In an interview with Hollywood TV last year when she announced her plans to come to Dubai, she appeared ignorant of laws banning gambling as she gushed: "I have never been but I have heard the best things about it, how it is like Las Vegas and LA. "People say it is incredible, the hotels I've heard about, The World, the casinos and the shopping." She said she was considering opening a hotel named after her in Dubai: "I feel like it would be the hot place to do it," adding the other option was creating Paris island: "It would be pretty amazing." Until then, Paris wannabes in the UAE desperate for a taste of her lifestyle will have to satisfy themselves with trying to follow in her Louboutins. The television star is rumoured to be visiting Plastik beach club near Ghantoot, described as the UAE's answer to St Tropez, Miami and Marbella, where the rich and the beautiful pull up in their yachts and Ferraris to preen on sun loungers. Other stops said to be part of her pitstop tour, where she will present her contestants with different challenges, are C-bar, an upmarket venue in the Al Murooj Rotana hotel and the Fairmont hotel's 400 nightclub for the uber-chic, with its lavish red and gold setting. Being part of the Paris Hilton circus does not come cheap - a number of companies approached were asked for a reported $200,000 to take part in the show - but in return, producers are hoping millions across the Middle East will be tuning in. In the current economic climate, it may seem there is not much of a market for such over-the-top decadence. But Edward Bagnall, of the global concierge service Quintessentially, begs to differ and says many of its members, like Paris, have every luxury at their beck and call. The Dubai branch of the company charges Dh6,300 a year for basic membership or Dh70,000 a year to have a team of managers on hand to serve every whim, whether it is rescuing a lost digital camera from the back seat of a taxi in Shanghai or paying Dh110,000 for a private jet to the US from Dubai to avoid being separated from a pet dog. "We really do anything that our members ask, as long as it is legal," he said. "It is a lifestyle-related bespoke service. Our members ask us for everything from restaurant reservations to meeting Andrea Bocelli backstage after his recent Abu Dhabi concert. "When we first get the request, we do sometimes think: 'How am I going to do that?' but we have a whole network of contacts. "In Dubai we don't have that many local celebrities but there are plenty of people living the lifestyle." Meanwhile there are plenty of ways Paris, and anyone aspiring to be like her, can splash the cash. If the back-to-back designer labels in the Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Mall's Fashion Avenue aren't enough of a temptation, the Burj al Arab boasts the most expensive telephone ever sold, a Dh5m Gold-Vish made from rose gold and decorated with diamonds and crocodile leather inlays. While she might turn up her nose at mixing with the hoi-polloi, Wild Wadi water park can be hired for private use between 9pm and 6am for a cool Dh20,000 an hour or she could escape the 50C heat by taking over Ski Dubai for Dh1.5m. And although she was planning to leave her treasured Tinkerbell behind during filming - most Dubai hotels have a strict no-pets policy - Paws and Claws in Mirdif promised its range of dog accessories would have something to suit her four-legged friend, while Crystal House in Satwa sells loose Swarovski crystals to customise any goods with a respectable amount of bling. Mac McClelland, president of the Luxury Marketing Council in the Middle East, said: "Despite the recession, the luxury is still there and will continue to be there. There are still high net worth individuals prepared to pay $10,000 for a place at a party or a bottle of champagne. "Like everyone, she will be wowed by the architecture, the multi-culturalism and the over-the-top things that Dubai has." All of which should ensure Paris won't be saying TTYN to Dubai. tyaqoob@thenational.ae