High Above Dubai: Dinner in the Sky

Do you have an appetite for high altitudes? Do you have a proclivity for non-traditional dining experiences? Have you ever hopscotched the globe looking for your next “bucket list” experience? And are you a fine dining enthusiast? If yes, then look no further. “Dinner in the Sky” in the Dubai Marina (United Arab Emirates) will surely satiate the most unconventional palettes.

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Dinner in the Sky Dubai was dreamed up by a Marketing CEO and a bungee jumping organizer from Belgium. First introduced in 2007 in Belgium, then later in Germany, this unusual dining venture has become one of the most coveted dining experiences in the UAE and across the globe.

The concept, although seemingly audacious, is fairly straightforward; suspend 22 guests by a crane hoisted dinner table, 164 feet above the ground. Serve simple, contemporary cuisine, and last, offer breath-taking views that will singularly transform the most traditional diner.

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Unbeknownst to most visitors, “Dinner in the Sky” first appeared in the UAE in 2013.  The concept first gained popularity in the capital city- Abu Dhabi. The Shangri La Hotel, located in the Khor Al Maqta area, played host to the thousands of guests who wanted to capitalize on the kaleidoscope of experiences that the UAE has to offer. Guests could dine in the sky while taking in unparalleled views of some of the city’s most iconic structures such as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. With a scalable model that works, it is no wonder that Dubai, one of the most ultra-modern cities in the world, sought to capitalize on this nuclear-powered idea. In fact, Forbes Magazine has called “Dinner in the Sky”, one of the “world’s 10 most unusual restaurants.”

I recall one of my colleagues hinting that I was somewhat unhinged for wanting to partake in this “precarious” dining experience, as he saw it. As someone who has a penchant for novel and high adrenaline adventures, I was determined to give it a go and quite easily was able to convince a girlfriend to likewise, be adventuresome.

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(photo credit: tourist partaking in Dinner in the Sky Dubai)

After signing a disclaimer (relinquishing the operators of almost total liability) and once harnessed in by a technician, we were ready to witness the collision of fine dining meets artful engineering. As we were being hoisted into the sky, Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars” played in the background, creating the perfect ambiance for the night. The evening was punctuated with familiar tunes such as “All the Way Up” by Fat Joe and “I Believe I Can Fly by R. Kelly.

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Once we leveled off at 164 feet, the waiters served us a non-alcoholic beverage of choice (water, juice or soda). Appetizers of archetypical European portions were then proffered. Vibrant, vivid beets paired with crème fraiche proved to be the perfect interplay of earthy and buttery flavors. For the main course, I enjoyed a delicately balanced baked chicken dish, which was purported to be better than the meat and fish options.

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The staff were attentive, engaging and super friendly; they went out of their way to accommodate our unquenchable desire to post on every social media platform, while cheerfully providing comforting words of advice to those guests who were still unsettled about being suspended in the air for the 100 minutes.

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In terms of overall “wow factor”, I would rate the experience an eight out of ten. The experience could have been enhanced by including more variety on the menu, as well as the addition of a few spirits (although I can see why the organizers have chosen to omit the latter due to liability issues). The food was locally catered by the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Jumeirah Beach and featured an approachable menu of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options that was seasonally dictated. Guests are able to log onto the website (https://dinnerinthesky.ae/en) prior to arrival to indicate food preferences and allergies.

There is certainly no lack of succulent experiences for the adventurous foodie in the UAE (In 2016-2017 alone, there were approximately 2,000 new venue openings in Abu Dhabi and Dubai). However, if the UAE isn’t in your future travel plans, you can visit one of the other iterations of  “Dinner in the Sky” found in 40 countries across the globe including France, Canada and the U.S.A. So, if you are feeling particularly celebratory this holiday season and want to add to your perennial “bucket list’’ adventures, then eschew your customary dining regimen and try dining in the sky.

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(photo credit: waitstaff at Dinner in the Sky Dubai)

*Please note that the Dinner in the Sky Dubai season runs from November 2017 to May 2018 and is now being catered by the Westin and Le Meridien Hotels.

 

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