Flying Business with FlyDubai

Posted by Mark

flydubai1

Last week I was invited to try out FlyDubai’s business class during a short two night trip to Dubai. I hadn’t flown FlyDubai for quite some time now and I hadn’t flown their business class at all since they introduced it this past November.

flydubai2

Since last September FlyDubai has also been flying out of Kuwait from the Sheikh Saad Terminal (the terminal previously used by the now defunct Wataniya Airways). There are a number of advantages to this terminal over the main Kuwait International Airport. Firstly the airport is a lot more visually tasteful, it’s cleaner and it has more natural daylight coming in. It’s also smaller which means the process of checking in or landing and getting your bags is a lot quicker. For business travelers you also get a whole wing of the airport just for yourselves. The business class section of the airport consists of multiple lounges, a food area and shower rooms. The lounge looks pretty much the same from when Wataniya Airways was running it which is a good thing. If you have Diners Club or American Express you can also use this lounge even if you’re flying economy. The downside to the airport is that you don’t have a proper restaurant to eat at just a Starbucks. Also, the long term parking at Sheikh Saad Terminal is expensive costing KD5 a day while the long term parking at the regular airport is just KD2 a day. But if you don’t mind walking a bit, there is free parking across the street near the military airbase although I could imagine that filling up pretty quickly.

flydubai3

The business class on FlyDubai is a proper business class with large fancy seats and all the business class amenities you’d expect to find. Their business class reminded me a bit of Wataniya Airways, actually because we were flying out of Sheikh Saad Terminal the whole experience felt like flying Wataniya Airways and thats a good thing since I used to love flying with Wataniya Airways. First thing I spotted when I sat down in my seat was the bottle of Evian water. They could have used any other brand like most airlines would do, but I suspect because they really want the customers to feel this is a true business class, they went with a brand easily associated with luxury.

flydubai4

The seats also had power plugs and large touch screens with access to in-flight entertainment. Before take off we were also served complimentary drinks and once we were in the air we were served breakfast. Disappointingly we didn’t have a choice for breakfast and so I was stuck with yogurt and granola. On the bright side, they did have a drinks menu which includes alcohol and I have to say their Sauvignon blanc was surprisingly very good for breakfast.

flydubai5

After arriving to Dubai, we were shuttled to the terminal in a small bus. Once we arrived to the terminal we had our own priority pass line and within minutes we were picking up our luggage. A very smooth and quick process.

flydubai6

Leaving Dubai is where I thought I would have an issue. The reason I used to dislike flying with FlyDubai is because their airport in Dubai (Terminal 2) used to be the saddest airport ever, like worse than the Kuwait Airport even. But since the last time I flew with Dubai their airport has gone through a major overhaul. The airport looks a lot better now, theres more seating and there’s also more options for food with Paul open there as well as Costa and Subway. Definitely a much more pleasant experience and from what I’m told there is still more work being done.

I started flying with FlyDubai because they usually had the cheapest tickets to Dubai and I would guess it was like that with a lot of other people. This is why FlyDubai has to work twice as hard to build their business class brand and reputation. They want people to realize that although their economy class has no frills, their business class is a completely different experience. It’s why I was invited to fly with them, to help spread the word about this. Their business class ticket prices seem pretty competitive, I just checked tickets to Dubai this weekend and the cheapest business class ticket Emirates had was KD362 while FlyDubai was KD173. Thing is they fly to a ton of other destinations other than Dubai and I would imagine their business class prices would be competitive on all the routes as well. So overall, FlyDubai’s business class is pretty damn good.

Update: I was just informed there is actually a Chili’s Express and other coffee shops on the 2nd floor of the airport before checking in.


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Review: Hidden Hotel – Paris

Posted by Mark

hidden hotel exterior

Last year when I went to Paris I ended up staying at the trendy Le Citizen Hotel which I loved. This year though when I went back during the holidays I ended up staying at another trendy hotel called Hidden Hotel.

hidden hotel interior

Hidden Hotel is a boutique hotel located near the Arc de Triomphe and a few streets away from Champs-Élysées. Being close to the Champs-Élysées really wasn’t the selling point for me but what did interest me was the fact that the George V metro line that was located at the end of Champs-Élysées was just a 10 to 15 minute walk from the hotel. The street the hotel was located on was very quiet and the same applied to all the streets from the hotel to Champs-Élysées. Not that there weren’t any cafes or restaurants all along the way, it just seems majority of the tourists do not wander out of Champs-Élysées into the adjacent side streets for some reason.

hidden hotel interior

The hotel had a very earthy feel to it. All the materials used inside the hotel and the rooms were made of natural wood or stone giving it a very organic all natural feel. They had four different sized rooms to choose from, the Intuition, Emotion, Sensation and Exception. The Intuition was the smallest room they had while the Exception was their super large one. I ended up staying in the Sensation.

hidden hotel room

When you first walk into the room it splits up into two main sections, on the right hand side you had the sleeping area with a fairly large flat screen TV, a desk and a small seating area while on the left hand side you had the closet area and bathroom. Both sides of the room are practically the same size and both sides of the room had large windows which brought in a lot of natural daylight. My room was located on the top floor of the hotel and overlooked a lot of other rooftops. I would sleep with the blinds open and loved waking up in the morning and watching it rain outside while I cozied up in bed.

hidden hotel interior

I found the bathroom very spacious and it was probably my favorite part of the room. The toilet itself was in a small separate room but the sink and shower area were open to the rest of the space. There was complimentary breakfast included along with two separate breakfast areas to dine in. The hotel is spread out into two building next to each other. I think one building contains the large Exception rooms while the other building contained the other rooms. The building I was staying in had cold cuts, cheese and fruits kind of breakfast while the building next door had the more traditional omelets, crepes and pastries breakfast. I could have breakfast in whichever building I wanted and having the choice was good. The customer service at the reception was friendly and very one on one. It’s mainly why I prefer staying at small boutique hotels compared to larger ones.

hidden hotel interior

My only gripe with my stay was with the bed. Although the room had a large king sized bed it was in fact two beds stuck to each other. I hate that since I always end up uncomfortably in the middle. Other than that there really isn’t anything I didn’t like. The room had a safe, hair dryer and lots of power sockets. The internet was fast, the TV had English channels and practically every night when I came back to the room I found goodies waiting for me like chocolates, cookies and even jam. If you do end up staying at the hotel make sure you pass by Café Latéral one night. It’s a typical French style cafe near the hotel filled with mostly locals and a great atmosphere. For more information on the hotel you can check out their website[Here]

Note: The first image in this post is taken from Hidden Hotel


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Pegasus Airlines

Posted by Mark

pegasus

Has anyone here ever flown with Pegasus Airlines before? I checked ticket prices to London and if you’re really flexible with your dates you can get tickets for KD110 or tickets to Barcelona for KD100 for example. It’s a no frills Turkish airline and all flights go through Turkey, like a Turkish version of Jazeera Airways. [Link]

Update: I just realized according to their press release, they start flying from Kuwait starting March 26th.

Update2: I love their description of Kuwait on their website…

Kuwait is a well-known business destination, with a number of interesting sites worth seeing including Failaka Island with its old dhows and archaeological sites and the traditional-style shops at Al-Mubarakiya. Activities to be enjoyed in Kuwait include horse-riding, golfing and sailing.


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New Kuwait Airport Website

Posted by Mark

airportwebsite

The Kuwait Airport website was recently majorly revamped. The website visually looks a lot more cleaner and modern with the most important information, the arrivals and departures timings now clearly displayed as soon as you enter. According to the website theres also a mobile application coming and WiFi will soon be free throughout the airport. Check out the revamped website [Here]

To take a look at previous designs, here’s how the website looked in [2007] and [2011]

Thanks Abdulwahab


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Paris: Off the Beaten Path

Posted by Mark

If you’re planning to go to Paris anytime soon you might find the below places interesting to check out:

deyrolle

Deyrolle
This first spot really depends if you’re into stuffed animals or not. Deyrolle is the most fascinating taxidermy store I’ve ever been to. It’s fairly large with a lot of wildlife on display from large animals like lions and horses to small insects like butterflies and bugs. Everything is for sale and there really is a lot to see but photography isn’t allowed which is why I was only able to capture the one shot above. The Deyrolle website has some images (but outdated compared to what I saw) and you can check them [Here]

dinky

Galerie Du Jouet Ancien
This is a little store I found accidentally and fell in love with instantly. The store sells vintage toys with the main focus being on toy cars. The store is tiny but crammed with toys so there is a lot to see (and buy). This is a [Link] with some information on the store and here is a [Map]

pozzetto

Pozzetto
This is my favorite gelato place in Paris and mostly because they have the best pistachio gelato I’ve ever had anywhere. It’s right at the start of the trendy Le Marais district (where L’As du Fallafel is also located) so you can pick up an ice cream once you’re done shopping or after you’re done with your falafel sandwich. [Link]

cnit

La Défense
This is the largest purpose-built business district in Europe and I loved it because it looks completely different from the Paris you know and see. This area of Paris is where all the tall skyscrapers are located including the 20th-century version of the Arc de Triomphe, the Grande Arche. It’s very easy to get to, just take the metro line 1 till the last stop.

steampunk

Métro Arts et Métiers
If you’re a steampunk fan you’ll love this metro station which was designed by a Belgian comic artist in a steampunk style. The station is located on line 3 and 11 of the Metro but only one of the lines is designed this way so if you get to the station and it doesn’t look like the picture above just head over to the other line.

Other places of interest:
Maison Goyard – They’ve got a mens store and a women’s store opposite each other on the same street. Other than the bags, check out some of the pet accessories they have if you really want to spoil your pet.
Colette – A trendy fashion store with a restaurant in the basement.
Ferdi – A small restaurant but you need to book in advance. We were having dinner there when we found out they had to turn away the rapper Drake because they were fully booked.


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Qatar Airways has a 3 day sale

Posted by Mark

qatar

Qatar Airways have a 3-day sale taking place that started yesterday and finishes tomorrow. They’re offering 30% off on flights so Kuwait to London for example now costs KD168 and to New York just KD238. If you’re planning to travel next month during the national holiday, this could be a good deal. Check it out [Here]


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The Lumineers – Live in London

Posted by Mark

The Lumineers

The Lumineers were the last concert I had planned for the week and I got to see them perform live last night here in London. The doors were going to open at 6:30PM so I was hoping to arrive to the venue at around 4:30 but ended up arriving at around 5:30PM. There were two long lines when we got there and we decided to stand in one of them but then I noticed a third line that was fairly empty, at first I thought it was a priority line or for people without tickets but we asked one of the organizers and he told us it was a third line they had just opened. So we ended up moving over to the newly opened line and headed right up to the front. When the doors finally opened we headed straight to the stage area and it was still empty since we were the first group to get there so we ended up standing second row center stage.


[YouTube]

The venue the concert was being held at was a palace located on top of a hill surrounded by acres and acres of park land. From the main entrance into the main concert hall we had to pass through 2 large palace wings, the first had the security and ticket check while the second wing had an indoor market, they had picnic tables in the middle surrounded by different food stalls all around. The actual concert hall I guess was originally a huge ballroom and easily fit us all even though we were over 10,000 fans last night according to the organizers.

The Lumineers

Before The Lumineers came on, a band called Thao & The Get Down Stay Down opened up for them. I hadn’t heard of the band before but the lead singer had a lot of charisma and was pretty cool to watch. They played for less than an hour before The Lumineers finally came on.


[YouTube]

I have no clue how we ended up second row to The Lumineers but it was incredible since it made the concert a much more personal experience. They’re super talented obviously with each band member playing on multiple instruments throughout the night. At one point even the drummer and pianist swapped places with each playing the other persons instruments. They pretty much played all their popular songs from their album in addition to ‘Gale Song’ which is off the new Hunger Games movie soundtrack as well as my personal favorite, ‘This must be the place’ which is a cover for the Talking Heads (watch it above).

It was a great night and I’d highly recommend watching them live if you ever get the chance to.


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Imagine Dragons and Atlas Genius Live

Posted by Mark

atlas genius

Last night I got to see Imagine Dragons and Atlas Genius both perform live here in London. I was supposed to arrive at the venue two hours ahead of time so I could try and end up close to the front of the stage but in a typical Mark move I ended up arriving two hours ahead of time… at the wrong venue. The concert was being held at the O2 Academy Brixton but I ended up going to the O2 Arena so after finding out my mistake I had to spend 40 minutes in the subway heading to the correct location on the other side of town. Although I didn’t end up right up front it wasn’t bad at all since I was still pretty close to the stage.


[YouTube]

The first band to perform last night were Atlas Genius. Even though Imagine Dragons are performing in London for three nights, Atlas Genius were only opening up for them on the first night and since I’m a fan of theirs I decided to get tickets for that night. Atlas Genius aren’t that popular but they’ve got two songs I really love one of which would probably make it into my top 20 indie tracks list. They weren’t that exciting performers live but nevertheless it’s still always great to hear a favorite song being played live in front of you.

Dan Croll came on after Atlas Genius but I only knew and liked one song of his (From Nowhere) and even though his performance was better than Atlas Genius, I couldn’t wait till he finished so Imagine Dragons could come on.


[YouTube]

Imagine Dragons were the third and final act for the night and I had heard they were great live. After watching them live now I can say that is very true. I was actually surprised by their whole performance. Even though they had arrived to London from LA just 5 hours before the show, they played every song with so much passion and energy I was just blown away. My favorite song of theirs is Amsterdam (watch it here) but I think their performance last night for Radioactive which I’ve embedded above was my favorite. Oh yeah the stage was full of percussion instruments which the whole band participated in therapeutically venting out on through out the night.

imagine dragons

Yesterday was the first time I took my GX1 camera with me to a concert. Micro 4/3 cameras like the GX1 are perfect for concerts since they look like point and shoot cameras which you’re allowed to bring in, but the quality of the shots is closer to DSLR’s which you aren’t allowed to bring into events. I was taking photos with my camera and then transferring them to my phone using the Eye-Fi card which I posted about the other day, and then uploading them to Instagram.

Two more concerts left and then it’s back to Kuwait.


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KAFI, a Kuwait Airport tracking app

Posted by Mark

kafi

If you’re looking for an advertisement free Kuwait Airport arrivals and departures tracking app then KAFI is the one to get. The app is very simple in case a flight you’re tracking hasn’t arrived yet you can turn on notification for that flight so that once it lands the app will let you know. The app is available for both iOS and Android and can be found by searching for KAFI or by using one of the links below:

iOS Version
Android Version

Update: Do not download this app. The app no longer works unless you agree to send adverts to your friends.


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Abu Dhabi: O1NE by Skybar

Posted by Mark

This is my last post on Abu Dhabi but I actually posted it on Blog Baladi since it’s related to Lebanon as well. Those of you who visit Lebanon in the summer and party at Skybar probably know that they close down in the winter because of the weather. Well Skybar are now launching O1NE in Beirut next month and it’s basically Skybar but indoors.

While I was in Abu Dhabi last weekend I found out they had opened up there so I ended up passing by to check it out. What I really wanted to see was the interior since a friend of mine who works for Skybar had previously told me they designed the interior with the concept to project visuals across the full 360 degrees of the interior. The outcome looks pretty great and if you’re curious to see how O1NE in Beirut will end up looking like check out my post [Here]


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