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Dubai’s famous drunken brunches get a reboot as Saturday becomes the new Friday

The UAE is addressing this work-life balance issue and the government has recently introduced a 4.5-day work week for Emirati civil servants.

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They say it’s risky to play with a winning formula, especially when the formula generates huge revenues for Covid-affected restaurants and is one of the pillars of the country’s tourism offering.

So when the UAE government announced it was shifting Friday and Saturday holidays to Saturday and Sunday to match global markets earlier in the year, Dubai hotels were quick to reassure their fun-loving residents that their biggest fear had not been realized – brunches weren’t “over.” they just moved to Saturday.

Dubai brunches are legendary and have always been uncompromising in their extravagance. Traditionally starting around 12:30 pm and ending sometime after 4:30 pm, these food and drink get-togethers reinforce Dubai’s image as a place to open a bottle of champagne, soak up the sun, nibble on lobsters and party.

In fact, brunches are a welcome weekend getaway for the city’s hard-working residents – and make no mistake, despite the designer labels and huge supercars, this is a city where people work really hard to avoid being taxed. dirhams.

In a recent study According to mobile tech company Kisi, Dubai is the most overburdened city in the labor intensity category, meaning that full-time employees often work 48-hour weeks.

The UAE is addressing this work-life balance issue and the government recently introduced a 4.5-day workweek for Emirati civil servants, which means they now have half a day on Friday with time for worship and family gatherings on the Islamic holy day.

However, much of the expat-dominated private sector will still be open full-time on Friday, so restaurants are moving brunches to Saturday – a change that Dubai’s foodies seem to have adjusted to with a shrug.

In fact, the only major problem that hungry weekend goers now face is the choice of brunch. There are many new options across the emirate such as Bleu Blanc at the newly opened The St. Regis Downtown Dubai. Guests can feast on extravagant creations such as the wagyu beef donut with truffle mayonnaise and enjoy endless champagne for AED 700 ($191) per head.

Not to mention “classic” old-school brunches like Bubbalicious at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi, where diners can indulge their taste buds in three restaurants and a massive AED 695 outdoor terrace with unlimited fizz, including a huge display case of fresh seafood with lobster. , crabs, shrimps, mussels and piles of freshly caught oysters.

“I don’t think people needed the slightest encouragement to get back to brunch after the weekend shift,” David Tully, head of media at Dubai Middlesex University, told CNBC.

“They could move brunches to Tuesday and people would find a way – Dubai people just can’t turn down an expensive and over the top smorgasbord. Covid can’t ruin a time-honored tradition, nothing breaks the rhythm of brunch in this city.”

The American émigré added: “I think Aristotle called it catharsis—after a hard week at work, people need a little Dionysian surplus on the weekend to blow off steam.”

Brunches are a long-awaited entertainment for hard-working citizens at the end of the week.

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Meanwhile, Stephanie Hughes, the British managing director of a Dubai-based communications firm who has become an avid brunch diner since moving to the UAE in 2014, says the new Saturday brunch is a good thing.

“It’s better because now we’re going to brunch and enjoying a great day, and then having a laid-back traditional Sunday roast the next day to recover from the festivities,” she told CNBC.

She added: “Now there also seems to be more brunch choices, better food quality and different times to choose from.”

Swedish expat Victoria Stevenson, who brunches with her Scottish husband on the weekends, says she has also noticed that Dubai’s establishments have stepped up their game to attract patrons.

“I think entertainment has become more of a part of brunch; when we return to Europe for a visit, we will really miss this stage,” she told CNBC.

While some brunches did continue in the midst of the pandemic, most were drastically reduced and included safety measures such as table spacing, hourly table sanitization, screens and table service, as opposed to a regular buffet.

Dubai hotels have abandoned many of the stricter protocols, though it may be some time before table service gives way to the usual buffet and plenty of food outlets.

Not that it mattered.

Hotels are doing everything in their power to win back affluent clients, and their efforts seem to be paying off with a surge in bookings in recent weeks, which appears to be a side effect of so-called “revenge tourism,” a recent concept that refers to consumers are more willing to travel after quarantine restrictions.

“Demand has certainly been higher this year,” Elif Yazoglu, general manager of DoubleTree by Hilton at Dubai’s waterfront Jumeirah Beach Residence, told CNBC.

“Everyone needs to get back to normal, be outgoing, share food with family and friends, have casual conversations and laugh a lot – brunch is a relaxed weekend option for that.”

Yazoglu says moving the hotel’s brunch to Saturday went smoothly in terms of welcoming guests.

“Because the weekend itself has shifted for everyone, those who previously didn’t work on Friday but now work on that day obviously prefer Saturday brunch.”

She added that after several tough years for the hospitality industry due to Covid, 2022 was an optimistic year, thanks to great weather, excitement around Expo 2020 and a return to normal travel trends.

“We have also noticed that there is a lot of demand for outdoor areas – weather permitting – and our biggest asset is our large garden with amazing views of Ain Dubai. [Dubai’s iconic observation wheel] and Bluewater Island,” she said.


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