I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  I was invited to the Middle East Coffee&Tea Convention, to share my art and paint some prizes for the barista championship. Here I am lugging my tradeshow booth stuff past the world’s tallest building.

Dubai is a city of skyscrapers, impossible but real islands shaped like palm trees, indoor ski resorts, deserts, horse and camel races, excellent food and more giant malls than any place needs. Here are some highlights:

Dubai is new to the specialty coffee world, having mostly chains that any European or North American is familiar with. For my first coffee in Dubai, I wasn’t expecting much as I ordered a ‘flat white’ (perhaps what an Oregonian would call a ‘traditional cappuccino’) at the huge chain Costa Coffee, but was impressed by the great latte art!  Sipping it in the world’s largest mall, viewing the indoor ski slope, hearing the Muslim call to prayer over the loudspeaker, was a perfect way to start the trip. A different mall is extravagantly decorated in themes of Persia, China, and more.  Ever seen a Starbucks in a more glorious setting?

I chose my own subject for the coffee painting prize, and yet it turned out to be champion Matt Toogood’s favorite espresso machine!  The 2nd and 3rd place winners received paintings of latte art.

Here’s my booth:

The generous event organizers provided a delicious buffet every night at the 5star Meydan hotel, overlooking the racetrack where the world’s richest horse race is held.  Somehow I missed getting a photo of the 30+ choices of Indian and Middle Eastern foods.
A trip to Dubai is not complete without some crazy experiences.  On the same day, I got to swim in the warm, wavy, extra-salty Persian Gulf, then go snowboarding, and yes, it’s REAL snow.  I’m from a ski town in Oregon, but I must admit this little mountain wasn’t bad!  You never have to worry about poor conditions or sleet in your face. Maybe boredom with only 2 runs though.  I don’t know anywhere else on earth that you can be swimming in warm lovely ocean water and less than one hour later be skiing, but it’s a nice combination.

spice market

Here are some more pics for you:

water taxis- a cheap cruise!

beautiful tile

metro (subway) stations are cool

gold market

I stayed in the blue tower

The kindness and hospitality of everyone I met gave my whole trip a warm glow.  If you ever get the chance, visit Dubai!

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