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Everything You Need For An Epic Birthday (Boat) Party

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I’m a firm believer that if you love your outfit, your birthday just kind of comes together around it. It’s a philosophy I have about life in general, but on your birthday the stakes are obviously far higher than usual. I remember having a distinctly average birthday cake at around the age of 5, but giving zero f*cks because I knew I looked completely badass in a pink metallic ra-ra skirt embellished with a giant black silk rose. Lesson learned.

Life is only marginally more complicated nowadays, although there are still a few key components you need to get spot on aside from a sweet outfit. Friends that encourage raucousness, for example, and a playlist made up almost entirely of Sean Paul tracks. Here are my tips for everything you need to make sure you have a banger of a party… on a boat, Dubai-style, or just gadding about Soho making merry in the sunshine…

A swimsuit from Private Party.

Private Party Birthday Suit Swimsuit

(Or a dress from Self Portrait).

Self Portrait Lace Dress

Sunglasses from Taylor Morris.Taylor Morris sunglasses Olivia Phillips

An inflatable unicorn from Needles & Notion.Needles & Notion inflatable unicorn

A cake from Rubab Suri.

Ruby Suri birthday cake Olivia Phillips

Some balloons from Party Camel.

Olivia Phillips Birthday party balloons

Clip-in extensions from Beauty By Edge.

Olivia Phillips party

Du-Try: Burger & Lobster Dubai

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I always do three obligatory things (incidentally, all food-based) within the first 24 hours of me being back in London. The first is have an enormous cuppa in my mum’s kitchen, where the tea is and always will be the best on earth. The second is sit in the window of Pret on Conduit Street (glamour) and eat the lunch I had every day for about three years – the Chef’s Special chicken salad. I’d like to say it’s some kind of transcendental mindfulness technique to remind me how far I’ve come/ to always sit and reflect, but it isn’t. It’s just cos it’s a really good salad. Ask me about it. I will talk to you about the lack of pistachios in all other salads.

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Anyway, the third mandatory back-in-town manoeuvre is making a beeline for the foodie hotspot where dreams are made, Burger & Lobster. Their lobster rolls are like a hug; one of the most satisfying things to eat in the capital, and that includes a salt beef and mustard bagel at 3am from Beigel Bake. So when they announced that it was opening out here in the dustbowl, I was more than a little excited, even if it did mean I’d have to leave a gaping hole in my London repertoire.

The worry was, would it be as good as the original? The buttery brioche loaf, incredible mayo-covered Atlantic lobster filling and salad dressing of legend? Them’s big shoes to fill.

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In a nutshell, whoever is in charge of copycatting the menu has done a damn fine job – if I took a bite and closed my eyes it was like I was back on Dean Street. A teleportation device, right there in DIFC. Good work, guys.

6 Dubai Life Hacks To Make You Insufferably Smug

I could well be committing unspeakable treason here, but even as a journalist whose main job is to know what’s new, next and (arguably) useful, I find Dubai a pretty hard nut to crack. And that’s WITH the avalanche of press releases sent directly to my inbox every day. I really do wish that there’d been a better handbook when I arrived, rather than having to loosely rely on Instagram and hearsay as my sandpit compass points. Some life hacks, perhaps, would have been nice. Some like the below, in fact…

Issue: I seem to have found myself in Jumeirah/ DIFC/ way out yonder on a Wednesday evening and want to exercise my entitlement for free drinks. Where’s the nearest Cosmo please?

Hack: Lucid DXB

Yes, there’s a ladies’ night every night of the week if you know where to look… but where DO you look? There’s bits of info strewn all over the internet, but that’s all a bit of a ballache to find to be honest. Enter Lucid, a free app which locates ladies’ nights, happy hours, beaches and brunches and divides them up into area and day of the week. There’s also a handy newsfeed with the latest goings-on and a search function which means you need never fart around with Google trying to find the number for Bubbalicious again. It’s a Dubai miracle.

Issue: I am a Dubai diva and need an emergency blow-dry, at my flat, like, now.

Hack: Agent Elite

Carrying on in the ‘there’s an app for that’ vein, Agent Elite is a really carefully curated edit of the best beauty freelancers in Dubai. These wizards are available to you literally at the click of a button, so choose whether you need a blow-dry, highlights, a full-on makeup beat-down or a fancy new up-do, who, when and where and – poof – they (basically) appear in your lounge. It’s like teleportation for hairdressers. Kind of.

Issue: My giant walk-in wardrobe that’s seventeen times bigger than anything I ever had at home is still too small to fit all my shoes. And I need a quick bit of cash.

Hack: Shedd

Huge Dubai wardrobe overflowing with stuff? SIGH. Sandpit problems, eh? Stick all your unwanted gear on Shedd – posting things is as simple as putting up an Instagram pic and you can buy/ sell through PayPal so you’re protected. Brilliantly, if you decide to meet the buyer/ seller in person and exchange cash like some kind of dodgy pair of Del Boys, it will actually cost you nothing as it’s free to post things onto the app. Indie designers sell through it too so you can even replace your old stuff with lots of shiny new things that still won’t fit in your cupboard. Such is life.

Issue: I’m busy being busy, am surgically attached to my iPhone and would like to simplify life in general so I can dedicate more time to Netflix and ordering takeaway.

Hack: Dubai Now

Imagine a world where you can pay your du, DEWA and Salik all in one place using your fingerprint. Dubai Now lets you call a cab, check flight info, plan your journey on google maps, find the nearest pharmacy, specialist doctor and police station, as well as gives you a back massage and teaches you conversational French, all without leaving the same app. Not bad, right? Disclaimer: I may have exaggerated. But not much.

Issue: It would be quicker to row to Land’s End and then write a small novel once you get there about the journey, than to navigate SZ traffic on a Thursday evening.

Hack: UberChopper

OK, so this is a bit of an urban myth which I, myself, have been unwittingly substantiating. UberChopper is A Thing in that it does exist, but it’s actually only available for tours from Atlantis over Dubai. They do come and pick you up in a car from your location and take you to Atlantis to start the tour, though – aka A Normal Uber. Less exciting, although still pretty useful. Smart Taxi is another great app you need in your life – basically Uber but for normal RTA taxis. The Dubai equivalent of Hailo, really.

Issue: My charmingly absent-minded pal has left her debit card at The Nail Spa/ a bag of diamonds at MOE/ her dignity in Barasti and we’re all TOO BUSY to go and collect it in person.

Hack: Fetchr

My, my, we’re all so busy and important over here, aren’t we? I’m aware that I’m being nothing but an enabler, since all my hacks seem to revolve around how to best continue being the laziest version of yourself. Still, Fetchr is bloody useful when you’ve forgotten something at a mate’s or have bought up such a storm in the mall that your weedy little arms can’t carry it all. Take a picture of what you want collected, enter in a mobile number and the time you want it done and they’ll pick it up and drop it to you – or vice versa. Side note: I will be Fetchr-ing the sh*t out of Channing Tatum next time he’s in Dubai and getting irate when he’s not delivered to my doorstep in a box.