When we planned this destination birthday party, we wanted the guests to have an authentic Dubai experience, so the main event simply had to take place in the desert. We created a mysterious Arabian Nights ambience, with entertainment that would surprise and delight them. The location we chose was the Al Maha natural reserve, around forty minutes from Dubai. Creating a site from scratch with a grand buffet, light and sound, restrooms and decor in the middle of nowhere was lots of fun! We could create our own oasis and plan the space around our entertainment.
When they say it is hot in the desert they are not exaggerating. We had to bring in our flowers just an hour before, because if they had been exposed to our open tent in the sun, they would have withered quickly. (There is a real art to floral design in Dubai!) For the set up, we worked at night, so that the 35 degree daytime temperatures wouldn’t slow us down. We even had a medical team on-site, since we were in the middle of nowhere.
They arrived at the site by camel, and were greeted with refreshments and massages after their ride. There was also an Arabic musical trio and an eagle tamer, who put on a show for them.
To embody our Arabian Nights theme, we created a beautiful tent with seating on round leather poofs, and with dozens of lanterns hanging from the open air ceiling. We wanted as many torches and candles as possible, to keep the lighting natural, but we also needed enough light for dancing and entertainment. It was a tricky balance.
Once night started to fall, we invited guests to hop into the 4x4s and transported them to the tent. They were welcomed by three gorgeous fire dancers, playing the theme music from ‘Game of Thrones’. (The show is our client’s favorite.) In addition, fifteen steel drummers lined the entrance to the tent as guests entered.
We also wanted to infuse cultural elements throughout. During the dinner we had belly dancers and tanoura (a traditional whirling dance). A fabulous DJ played all the guests’ favorite French songs. They couldn’t wait to get up on the dance floor (made of Persian carpets, of course!).
One of the guests’ favorite entertainments was an astronomer, who had his telescope set up so they could see the stars. As there are no lights in the desert, you can really enjoy stargazing. The astronomer was so passionate, and shared a lot of information with the guests.
To add to the authentic desert experience, we chose an Arabic menu, with barbecue and an array of salads and mezze. The cake needed to be masculine, so we kept it to two colours: gold and off-white. We had the birthday boy’s name written on it in Arabic. The belly dancer did a show with a sword, before handing it to him to cut the cake.
What an amazing night it was! One that my clients and their guests will surely never forget. Happiest birthday wishes!
Event professionals: Event Planner: Alejandra Poupel Events, Accommodation: Al Qasr, Desert venue: Al Maha Desert Reserve, Cake: House of Cakes, Yacht charter: First Yacht, Entertainment: Scarlette Entertainment, Photography and Video: Goldfish Photography & Video, Hats: Bits and Pieces