Since the world is our playground, then Dubai is our proverbial sandbox, that place from childhood that lets us imagine a quest for hidden treasure. Old maps of desert islands—where X marks the spot—lead to a treasure chest of worldly goods waiting to be unearthed. Dubai is that singular place where nothing—nothing— seems indulgent, just necessary.
Atlantis The Palm, Dubai brings fantasy to life annually. In reality, the map is only a decade old—the island has the distinctive shape of a palm tree—and the spoils are housed in an event that showcases the world’s most luxurious playthings and is aptly titled “Big Boys Toys.” This spectacle held earlier this year, is so opulent and so lavish that the united Arab emirates royal family reserves a day just for them. From Ferrari to Fabergé, the show offers the planet’s rich and famous myriad treasures that combine the class and style of James Bond with the bankroll of Bruce Wayne. In other words, it’s the out-of-this-world, ridiculously fantastical can’t-miss event of the season.
As an enthusiast of the finer things in life, and still very much a boy at heart, I relished the opportunity to browse through the world’s most amazing toys. Walking in, my senses were immediately bombarded by magnificence and luxury. Involuntary responses that included widening of eyes, opening of mouth, and quickening of both heart rate and walking pace were evidence that the inner child never really leaves the soul. Where to begin? Oh, where to begin?
I truly believe the clothes make the man, so when I learn that the world’s most expensive suit is on display, I know I have my starting point. I’m quick to emphasize that luxury and class are not necessarily about cost, but when an item of clothing holds the world-record price tag of $114,000—with a certificate of proof, thank you very much—it makes sense to showcase.
At first glance, the suit jacket is quite understated, a single-breasted black garment with a very fine pinstripe, somewhat similar to the suit I currently sport. On closer inspection, the craftsmanship and superiority of the suit are quite evident. The fabric is a combination of scarce and limited wools from vicuña, a South American animal linked closely with the alpaca; and qiviut, the Inuit word used to describe the fine inner layer of wool collected from the Arctic muskox. When combined with pashmina, the blend of materials creates the planet’s most luxurious cloth that has an almost charming quality to the touch. The pinstripe is an 18-karat gold thread, subtle yet distinguished, adding a sense of gravitas to the light material. A total of nine 18-karat gold buttons adorned with fine jewels from several countries impart a final elegant panache to the jacket. The suit is a testament to the expertise and bespoke quality of service the designer, Alexander Amosu, demands from himself and for his clients. Mission accomplished, to be sure.
The Bentley is a majestic vehicle, with a masculinity and audaciousness that remind me of the regal Clydesdale horses. But in an environment such as Dubai, where even the police drive lamborghinis and luxury vehicles are as common as a Honda Accord on the Jersey Turnpike, a Bentley doesn’t mandate many second looks—until now.
My attention is drawn to this particular car by its distinct color scheme; it’s primarily black, except for the contrasting cream-colored hood. Aside from being a completely different color than the rest of the vehicle, the hood seems to have a life of its own, an energy and brilliance that seem to dance off its surface. Then I realize what I’m seeing: Diamonds! Are. You. Kidding. Me? Wow!
The Swiss manufacturing company, luxury Refinish, has developed a technique of integrating diamonds into various solvents and compounds. The diamonds are then suspended throughout the layers of lacquer, giving any item you choose to coat a shimmering texture and an almost living and breathing (organic) quality. The coating on the Bentley is made up of 101 carats of diamonds. The company is keen to point out that this isn’t diamond dust, but actual diamonds that have been cut to the minimum tolerance that defines a rough-cut diamond, keeping its physical beauty and magnificence. “Bling” doesn’t even begin to sum up this Bentley—these guys take it to a different level by saying “diamonds are energy that makes us happy.” Who am I to argue? And in the presence of this automobile, I’m happy. Very, very happy.
My next moment of awe is with a toy that truly walks the line between real and fantasy, a piece of machinery that appears to question the laws of physics. Inspired by sci-fi film, Tron: Legacy, the Xenon motorcycle is a fully functional, street-legal piece of art. A thick, dark vehicle fit for a superhero, enhanced by sky-blue electroluminescent strips that outline the chassis and spokeless wheels, a mechanism that doesn’t seem to make sense. It’s not just about the aesthetics; with a Suzuki 996 cc four-stroke engine and maximum speed of 100 MPH, the thrill is real. So very real. Further enhanced by an operating position that puts the driver almost parallel to the ground, the motorcycle is an adrenalin shot for both rider and spectator.
Shifting gears, golf is a game that embodies heritage, integrity and incredible emotional and mental toughness, but in this modern era, technology has taken a significant foothold. Some of the research that goes into the game’s modern equipment mirrors that of NASA, with many of the large corporate brands promising increased distance and accuracy using many of the club brands. Countless purists have argued that the amplified dependency on technology has taken away some of the game’s charm. I say no.
The Sweet Wood Golf Company crafts golf equipment using old- fashioned materials and traditional assembly skills, working with various hardwoods and forged irons to create a singular feel and touch unrivaled by today’s equipment. They bring simplicity back to the game, challenging you to play with a feel-based swing rather than a technology-driven approach offering an experience that can take you back to a golden era of golf, when style, class and grace where an integral part of the sport. If a round of golf at St. Andrews Old Course in Scotland is on your bucket list, make sure you take a set of Sweet Wood clubs with you. It’s the golf equivalent of using Mickey Mantles’ bat as you step up to the plate in yankee Stadium. In other words, it’s something you won’t soon forget.
Dubai was the perfect location for this Big Boys Toys event. I mean perfect. It’s a cosmopolitan city that has become a hub of business and culture that connects east to West. A location that attracts innovation, sporting events, live entertainment and ambitious developmental projects, including skyscrapers, shopping malls and signature man-made islands. It’s a true testament to man’s ingenuity, and it’s sometimes difficult to differentiate between what’s real and what’s fantasy. It has an opulence that rivals any other city in the world and can be described as las Vegas on steroids. After a few days of being immersed in the world’s most exotic and expensive playthings, it would be reasonable to think I’d be worn out and ready to get back to reality. not so fast. Big Boys Toys only made me want more, and I’m now researching other events around the globe so that I can continue my quest to make the world my own personal playground.
But I’d sure look better in my travels behind the wheel of a diamond encrusted Bentley, dontcha think?