No amount of guidebook research can replace local knowledge so FNND has asked locals about their city and how they interact with it. They live and work in the city and kindly provided their favourite spots.
This is the third in a series, with part three focused on Dubai. So meet Dubai resident Reiner Erlings who loves the old and the new in his city.
What you do for a living?
I am a composer and music producer based here in Dubai. The main thing I do is to compose original music, sound design, and foley for advertising, TV and film projects, such as TV/online ads, cinema campaigns, and (short) films. I have a recording studio where I work with artists and bands from the region as a producer and mixing engineer.
How long have you been living in Dubai?
I’ve been in Dubai for almost nine years now.
How did you end up here?
I grew up in Oman, so have been coming to Dubai for many years on weekends and breaks. After going to university in Canada I moved to London to start working in music. Whilst in London I came to Dubai on a vacation and noticed how booming the city was at the time (2006). I thought it would be a great place to be based out of. I ended up getting a job at a production facility here and have been in the city ever since.
What you love about Dubai?
Brunch and shopping.
No just kidding!
To me Dubai is kind of a like an old worldly, wise, well-travelled explorer, masquerading as a 20-something glam model. I don’t know if that made any sense, but what I was trying to say is that Dubai is often portrayed (and portrays itself) as a glitzy, high end, new and modern city, whereas the Dubai I have come to know is steeped in culture and history. The city is an amalgamation of all sorts of different people, united by a common goal; to set out to make something of themselves and start a new life by building a home here.
My favourite parts of the city are Bur Dubai, Karama, and Deira. It’s the true heart of the city in my mind, and walking the streets here you get a real sense of being in an authentic city.
You can find anything you are looking for, and a lot of things you didn’t even know existed, plus you learn a bit about yourself in the process.
Some people might view this whole ‘old’ and ‘new’ Dubai thing as somewhat dichotomous, but I see it as making Dubai really unique, you just have to embrace both sides of it.
How would you sum up Dubai?
Dubai is a city of contrasts. Small family businesses next door to massive shopping malls. Home-grown vs imported. Old buildings filled with stories (figuratively) and memories next to brand new shiny skyscrapers.
Dubai has got something to offer for everyone who is willing to look for it.
What’s your favourite place in the city? Pick one place in the city and tell us what you love about it.
I have so many, it’s hard to pick one. Since I am somewhat of a foodie, I think I’ll go with New Sind Punjab restaurant in Karama. My wife took me there when we first met and she opened my eyes to whole new side of Dubai and a whole new palate of foods!
It’s the kind of restaurant that has been around for as long as the UAE itself, where all the waiters know your name and what you will order, no matter how long it’s been since your last visit.
Finish this sentence: “You can’t go home before you’ve…?”
Uncovered the real Dubai. Dubai has something to give to anyone who lives or visits here, be it a successful career, making new friends/relationships, or learning more about other cultures and people. You often don’t realise this until after you leave and look back at your time in Dubai. So I would say, don’t leave Dubai until you have soaked up as much of this as you can!
Describe a perfect day in the city…
I am more about the company I keep then about doing any particular activity, so for me the perfect day involves hanging out, talking, brewing coffee, eating good food. And in the evening go and see some unique musical performances somewhere in town.
Any city can feel like home if you meet the right people there.
One piece of advice for a visitor?
If you’re into food and culture and want something off the beaten track, go on an old Dubai food adventure walking tour. I don’t mean for this to be a plug, but my sister-in-law and her sister have an awesome food tour company called Frying Pan Adventures which I think is the perfect way for any visitor to discover the real Dubai! You can really feel the ”pulse” of a down-to-earth, older neighbourhood, far removed from the glitz and glam of touristy new Dubai.
For music, Reiner recommends:
The Music Room, Majestic Hotel
Freshly Ground Sounds
Jazz @ Pizza Express
Musichall Zabeel Saray, The Palm
Blue Bar Novotel DWTC
Always a great idea to ask locals about the city. You find out so many more interesting things that you would never know as a tourist