Photos by James Clar
Dubai has deserts with camels and the first seven-star hotel. Light artist James Clar tells Theme about his temporary home.
James Clar Bio
Occupation: Light artist. My work has been a study of light and its properties, so that I can design visual information systems. I’ve created everything from objects that use thousands of LEDs, to a 3-D display, to permanent building installations that sample the sun’s energy and give off various colors at night according to how much sun they sample.
How long you’ve lived in your city: I just moved from Tokyo to Dubai 6 months ago. I’m still a bit new, but everyone is new to Dubai. Over 80% of the people living here are foreigners!
Eat & Drink
Favorite high-end restaurant:
Any place at the Medinat Jumeriah or Jumeriah Beach Hotel.
Best deal restaurant:
Any of the numerous authentic Indian food places in Karama. It’s the real deal.
Best street food:
It gets too hot here for street food!
LimeTree Cafe or Cariboo Coffee
Best place to work on laptop with free wi-fi:
Buy a coffee at Cariboo Coffee, and you get an hour free Internet.
360 Lounge. This is a very nice lounge that’s at the end of the pier at Jumeriah Beach Hotel. Listen to nice house music, have a few drinks, and watch the sun go down over the sea.
Favorite outdoor space:
Medinat Jumeriah. Canals, outdoor restaurants, and bars—all next to the ocean. It’s great to walk around and shop here.
Best touristy thing to do:
Go on a safari out in the desert. You rent a jeep, go out dune bashing through the wilderness, and end with an outdoor barbeque in the evening.
A thing only a local does or knows about:
Go to a mosque. They’re all over the city. You’ll hear the prayers over the loudspeaker at odd times during the day.
The must-see thing in your city:
Burj Al Arab, the hotel built on the sea. It’s “the world’s first seven-star hotel.”
How would you spend a day off in your city?
I’d go to the Mall of Emirates, near where I live. It’s the mall with the indoor ski hill. Malls, however suburban, have become quite popular in Dubai because they allow you to walk around and be sheltered from the weather. Pretty much anything you are looking for can be found in one enclosed shopping area or another.
Best website for local info:
Anything else you want to mention?
If you visit soon, keep in mind Dubai is a work-in-progress. So many buildings are being built, and new ones open all the time. There are no real addresses here, so if you go to one of the places mentioned, just tell the taxi driver the name of the place, and he will know where to bring you. The city is constantly changing and growing. The major sites like the Burj Dubai (tallest building in the world), the Palms (palm-shaped development over reclaimed and in the sea), Dubailand, and even the Metro are all being constructed as we speak. Sections of them will open at a time. Even in the short amount of time I have been here, things have changed. I can’t imagine what this city will be like three years from now!