International Desert Festival focuses on Hail’s attractions

International Desert Festival focuses on Hail’s attractions
Updated 16 January 2015

International Desert Festival focuses on Hail’s attractions

International Desert Festival focuses on Hail’s attractions

Hail launched its nine-day International Desert Festival on Thursday, which focuses on the daily lives of Arabs, including food, traditional crafts, poetry, storytelling and dances.
The event is being held under the aegis of Hail Gov. Prince Saud bin Abdul Mohsin, who is also chairman of the Tourism Promotion Council, at the Al-Meghwat picnic center. Morocco is the guest of honor at the festival, now in its eighth year.
The festival has become a popular event in the Kingdom. Artisans of handicrafts from inside and outside the Kingdom will display their wares. Various dishes popular among desert dwellers will also be available.
Various local and foreign dance troupes and poets will perform their work at the event. The Saudi Geographical Survey will have a geological exhibition, while the Saudi Wildlife Authority will feature desert flora and fauna.
The organizers have also set up an exhibition of old photographs of Hail to be displayed by the King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives. The other exhibitions include crafts by local community development societies, one by the medical club of Hail University, and another on books organized jointly by the Hail Public Library and the literary club. Hail Museum is also showcasing its antique collections at the festival.
The festival organizers also plan to organize tourist trips deep into the desert to dormant volcanoes and ancient caves in the region. Desert camps are organized for those who want to spend the night. There will also be various desert games such as horseracing, camel racing, sand skating and mountaineering.
Several scientists and researchers will participate in the forums and lectures on various topics related to desert life on the sidelines of the festival. Mayor of Hail Ibrahim Abu Ras said the municipality organized the annual event with government departments and private organizations. He said the event would also be beneficial for vocal people because they can display their products for sale to thousands of visitors expected to attend.


Luxury living at Dubai’s five-star Palazzo Versace

Updated 21 November 2020

Luxury living at Dubai’s five-star Palazzo Versace

Luxury living at Dubai’s five-star Palazzo Versace
  • The five-star hotel is just as opulent as you’d expect from the Italian fashion house

DUBAI: If you wanted a sneak peek into Donatella Versace’s mind, a stay at Dubai’s five-star Palazzo Versacein Al-Jaddaf Waterfront is the closest thing. It’s exactly what you’d expect from the luxurious Italian designer — opulent and borderline-ridiculous in its luxuriousness.

On entering the hotel, you are greeted by a massive, 3,000-kilogram crystal chandelier imported from the Czech Republic, flanked by a 1.5 million-piece mosaic of Medusa set into the Italian marble floors. The interior of the lobby is decorated with sofa chairs — upholstered in Versace silk — and plump cushions, evoking a wealthy woman’s posh (or, depending on your taste, gaudy) living room. The high ceilings top a corridor lined with framed sketches of supermodels sporting Donatella’s couture creations, limited-edition Versace urns (there’s only four in the world), and rich purple carpets handcrafted from New Zealand wool.

The Versace brand is omnipresent, as you’d expect; from the hand-painted friezes in the lobby to the delicate china used to serve your coffee as you wait to check in. If you’re looking for something even a little modest, the Palazzo Versace is not it.

On entering the hotel, you are greeted by a massive, 3,000-kilogram crystal chandelier imported from the Czech Republic. (Supplied)

Each suite features polished parquet flooring and Versace homeware — silk-printed sheets and drinking glasses with the Medusa insignia carved into the bottom. In fact, the mythological figure is peppered throughout the interior, whether overtly — on the towels — or subtly, such as the knobs on the drawers. 

I was lucky enough to stay in the Grand Suite, a luxurious 130-square-meter room with sweeping views of the Dubai Creek. I entered into a spacious living room that was separate from the bedroom — the latter an ultra-Instagrammable place that includes a plush king-sized, baroque-style bed dressed in salmon-pink and golden linen (yes, with Versace patterns).

As one of Dubai’s most luxurious hotels, it’s unsurprising it’s home to one of the most luxurious bathrooms, too (or the ‘powder room’ as it's coyly referred to on the touch-sensor light switches). Between the Versace-branded toiletries lining the marble tub and counters, mosaic murals on the walls and Carerra marble flooring, the suite is worth booking for the bathroom itself. 

Each suite features polished parquet flooring and Versace homeware. (Supplied)

After settling in, I decided to unwind at La Piscina swimming pool. But there were no sun loungers available. Fortunately, the hotel has two other pools to choose from, so I made my way to Capri Lagoon, which was definitely more chilled out than La Piscina. It’s a sprawling infinity pool in which you can float above another Medusa mosaic.

If, like me, swimming plays havoc with your hair, the hotel spa also has a hair salon, so you can get yourself a quick blow dry before heading to dinner.

The hotel has a wide selection of restaurants to suit all taste palettes. There’s international cuisine at Giardino; Persian restaurant Enigma — headed by Iranian-born Michelin-starred Mansour Memarian — and Italian venue Vanitas. I opted for the latter, a cozy yet luxurious space that is equally fit for an intimate dinner date or a feast with friends. 

The hotel has a wide selection of restaurants to suit all tastes. (Supplied)

I had the Bruschetta Burrata served with tomatoes, mashed avocados and basil handpicked from the hotel’s garden for starters and the Tagliata di Wagyu — Wagyu Striploin served with a side of black truffle mashed potatoes and sautéed mushrooms — for my main. Naturally, everything was served in Versace tableware. 

While the food was good, it was not especially memorable. The portions were a good size, however, as they left room for dessert: Tiramisu, which was undoubtedly the highlight of the meal. 

Having returned to my suite, I was slightly disappointed to see the ultra-luxe bedding had been swapped for a generic white duvet and pillowcases. However, housekeeping was kind enough to grant my silly request to change the bedding back. While a better night’s sleep wasn’t fully guaranteed by the upgrade, it did provide an extra level of comfort. 

All in all, guests can expect excellent service from the moment you enter the Palazzo Versace until you check out. With staff always available and happy to help, you can be sure you’ll want for nothing during your stay, except maybe an extension.