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The BBC - but not as you know it… - By Rebecca Wicks

The other night I won 30 litres of beer. Three, zero. That's a lot by anyone's standards. I didn't actually win them up front - they weren't rolled up to me in giant kegs by grinning Belgian's proffering straws. Rather I won the opportunity to drink 30 litres of beer at my convenience, on the date of my choice, in the new Belgian Beer Café (BBC) in Festival City's Crown Plaza.

It took about an hour to get there by taxi, coming in rush hour from the middle of Sheikh Zayad Road. As we sat, stuck in traffic, 'P' and I discussed the merits of this new Belgian establishment and vowed to drink a pint for every jam we got stuck in, on the way there.

It's been a stressful week you see, moving flats. We finally found a place, by the way. But of course, the search has left a gaping void where our social lives used to be; not to mention a hole in our wallets. The chance to get out on the town left us giddy with excitement - like grandmas on their way to the weekly bingo. Who would be there? Would there be nibbles? Would anyone remember us anyway, having been away from "the media scene" for so long? (Well, about three weeks in all, but the turnaround in this transient town is such that should you overstay on a weekend camping trip, you may well return to find everyone you ever knew in Dubai gone, forever… with nothing but a dusty trail to remind you of their presence).

Luckily, there were a few familiar faces as we sidled over to the bar and ordered our Leffe. We've been looking forward to this bar opening for ages. 'P' was lucky enough to attend a party next door at the Intercon that he doesn't quite remember a few months back, where he got to eat some chips in the BBC, courtesy of a specially licensed sneak preview. He regaled the tale of the sweet mayonnaise, and the sausage and mash, and the way the giant mugs and dark, wooden panelling reminded him of happy times in European boozers… although the minor details, as to who he was with and what had been in his cocktail glass before he lost his friends, grew hazier by the second in his memory.

Anyway, we've also been looking forward to this bar opening because of the moules frites. That's mussels and chips to the rest of us. Giant steaming bowls of Belgian's finest, coupled with potatoey soldiers. None of that fancy-pants overpriced seafood stuff with funny names in here, thanks very much. We're simpletons at heart - we want the comfort stuff. We want the dish we used to get back at home in Belgos (anyone know Belgos?) and we want it to come with the very same beer.

I can't tell you how good it was to hold that Leffe in my hands after such a stressful couple of weeks. The great apartment hunt didn't seem like such a nightmare after all. The annoying estate agent was actually a really nice bloke, and even my ex manager, who couldn't 'manage' his way out of a toilet cubicle could have deserved a cuddle. That's how good it made me feel.
As the ribbon was cut and the raffle jar pulled out, I couldn't help but harbour an ounce of hope that maybe this time… I just might win. Even though I knew I wouldn't. I never win anything.

But then I did. 30 litres of beer. Of course, I have to share it with my friends but that's OK. At the end of such a perfect Dubai day, I would have shared my pint with anyone who asked. Sometimes, it's not so bad here after all.

Posted: 01 May 2008

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