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Dubai restaurants awarded Michelin stars, first in Middle East

Dubai has become the first city in the Middle East to be featured on the Michelin star guide, a well-explored and researched manual that recognizes the most standout, exceptional restaurants around the world.

The stars are awarded to eateries that are judged by secret Michelin Inspectors to be of particularly high standard. A placement on the list indicates the highest standard of gastronomy referred to by chefs and gourmands globally.

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The grading process includes numerous visits by full-time inspectors at various times of the day across multiple days of the week to ensure consistency.

The inaugural guide described the local scene as an “epicurean kaleidoscope,” recognizing 69 restaurants covering 21 cuisine types. Nine restaurants received one star while two eateries received two stars, to be reassessed periodically.

The guide offers three star rankings:

1. One Michelin star: high quality cooking, worth a stop
2. Two Michelin stars: excellent cooking, worth a detour
3. Three Michelin stars: exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey

Two-star outlets:

1. Il Ristorante – Niko Romito: The guide said its modern Italian fare, which comes with balance, purity and clarity stems from quality ingredients that flown in from Italy, with highlights including fish and pasta dishes.

2. STAY by Yannick Alléno: Set in a colonial-style property at The Palm, it is reported to have a less-is-more approach, which reportedly results in precise, sophisticated dishes that are crafted with French cooking as the base.

One-star outlets:

1. 11 Woodfire: Chef-owned by Akmal Anuar of Malay origin. The restaurant reportedly offers a global variety of vegetables, seafood and meats grilled to perfection over oak, hickory or hay.

2. Al Muntaha: Led by Saverio Sbaragli, the chef gained experience at the three Michelin starred Arpège, and reportedly offers sophisticated and refined French cuisine with Mediterranean influences.

3. Armani Ristorante: The Burj Khalifa housed eatery reportedly presents precise, modern Italian cooking. The guide described it as “beautifully decorated dishes met with attentive, enthusiastic service.” It recommended the agnolotti del plin, filetto di scorfano and agnello al mirto.

4. Hakkasan: Introduced in London in 2001, the Dubai outpost at the Atlantis Hotel reportedly offers reimagined Chinese dishes exclusive to Dubai, including the lychee lobster with yuzu pearl.

5. Höseki: Set on the fourth floor of the Bulgari Hotel, the restaurant reportedly offers a bespoke omakase experience using fresh ingredients imported daily from Japan in a nine-seat restaurant headed by a sixth-generation sushi master, Masahiro Sugiyama.

6. Ossiano: Located in the basement of the Atlantis Hotel next to the aquarium, the restaurant reportedly gains inspiration from chef Gregoire Berger’s childhood memories, featuring dishes that come with fine texture contrasts and clarity of flavor.

7. Tasca by José Avillez: This restaurant is the first international outpost of world-renowned Portuguese chef where the kitchen team reportedly combines fresh, quality produce with Portuguese dishes that are vibrant, innovative, and great for sharing.

8. Torno Subito: Owned by internationally acclaimed chef Massimo Bottura the eatery reportedly offers Italian classics, pasta dishes and desserts with a twist.

9. Trèsind Studio: The brainchild of Himanshu Saini, the restaurant reportedly offers original and precisely executed multi-course tasting menus featuring herbs and flowers grown on its rooftop terrace setting, with highlights such as the ghee-roasted crab, tandoori chicken dumpling and morel pulao with Assam tea dashi.

No Dubai restaurant earned the highest three start rank distinction.

A special star ranking – Michelin Green Star introduced in 2020 – signifies eateries that take into account the sustainability factor.

Lowe, a contemporary and experimental restaurant that cooks seasonal produce by fire, was the only Dubai restaurant to make the green rating by Michelin.

Apart from the star rankings, 14 places were honored with a Bib Gourmand award, which is given to high-quality food at lower prices.

Several restaurants serving regional cuisine recieved recognition in this category including the Levantine restaurant Bait Maryam, and al-Khayma known for its rustic Emirati cooking, and the Syrian brothers-run Orfali Bros, among others.

Rounding up the list, 44 eateries were ‘Michelin selected,’ getting a chance to feature on the guide. The rating criteria is said to take into account five considerations as stated by Visit Dubai:

1. The quality of ingredients
2. The mastery of cooking techniques
3. The personality of the chef represented in the dining experience
4. The harmony of flavors
5. The consistency in the menu between inspectors’ visits.

Special Awards

The Young Chef Award was given to Solemann Haddad of restaurant Moonrise.

The report said: “Born and bred in Dubai with a French mother and Syrian father, Solemann’s fascination with food and Japan began at a very early age. Mostly self-taught, this eloquent, passionate and thoughtful chef is only too happy to explain his dishes, their origins, and even divulge the secrets of how he executes them.”

He reportedly uses local ingredients, fuses them with his heritage, and delivers an omakase menu that is a blend of Japanese Kaiseki with Middle Eastern ingredients.

The Sommelier Award was given to Danijela Tesic of Ossiano for “her passion and enthusiasm for wine pairing, demonstrating knowledge of the wines in a very relaxed, unpretentious style,” the report said.

The Welcome and Service Award was given to the team at Bait Maryam.

“Our inspectors were immediately taken by the warmth of the welcome they received when they dined here. Salam and her family showed genuine hospitality to everybody. Service is relaxed and cheerful with all the team working perfectly together to ensure diners really enjoyed their experience,” the Michelin report stated.

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Lindsay Lohan celebrates birthday as married woman to Dubai resident Bader Shammas

Actress Lindsay Lohan is celebrating her 36th birthday on Saturday as a married woman.

The “Freaky Friday” star said she was the “luckiest woman in the world” in an Instagram post Friday that pictured her with financier Bader Shammas, who had been her fiance.

“I am stunned that you are my husband,” Lohan said in the post, adding that “every woman should feel like this everyday.”

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The couple had announced their engagement last November. People magazine and Entertainment Tonight confirmed there had been a wedding, but no details were offered.

While still single a few years ago, Lohan told Entertainment Tonight that she was looking for “a smart businessman” and someone who doesn’t like the spotlight. Shammas’ Instagram account is private.

The “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” actress and sometimes singer has worked through some sobriety issues in recent years, and has recently filmed a romantic comedy that is due to be released on Netflix later this year.

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Entertainment

Dutch university gets cyber ransom money back with interest

A Dutch university that fell victim to a massive ransomware attack has partly received back its stolen money, which in the meantime more than doubled in value, a news report said on Saturday.

The southern Maastricht University in 2019 was hit by a large cyberattack in which criminals used ransomware, a type of malicious software that locks valuable data and can only be accessed once the victim pays a ransom amount.

“The criminals had encrypted hundreds of Windows servers and backup systems, preventing 25,000 students and employees from accessing scientific data, library and mail,” the daily De Volkskrant said.

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The hackers demanded 200,000 euros ($208,000) in bitcoins.

“After a week the university decide to accede to the criminal gang’s demand,” the paper said.

“This was partly because personal data was in danger of being lost and students were unable to take an exam or work on their theses,” it said.

Dutch police traced part of the ransom paid to an account belonging to a money launderer in Ukraine.

Prosecutors in 2020 seized this man’s account, which contained a number of different crypto currencies including part of the ransom money paid by Maastricht.

“When, now after more than two years, it was finally possible to get that money to the Netherlands, the value had increased from 40,000 euros to half-a-million euros,” the paper said.

Maastricht University will now get the 500,000 euros ($521,000) back.

“This money will not go to a general fund, but into a fund to help financially strapped students,” Maastricht University ICT director Michiel Borgers said.

The investigation into the hackers responsible for the attack on the university is still ongoing, De Volkskrant added.

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Singer R. Kelly sues Brooklyn jail for putting him on suicide watch

R. Kelly on Friday sued the Brooklyn jail that has housed him since his racketeering and sex crimes conviction, saying it wrongly put him on suicide watch after he received a 30-year prison sentence despite knowing he was not suicidal.

In a complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court, the 55-year-old multiplatinum R&B singer said officials at the Metropolitan Detention Center ordered the watch after his June 29 sentencing “solely for punitive purposes” and because he was a “high-profile” inmate.

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Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean quoted a prosecutor as saying the jail’s legal counsel had told her that “per the psychology department, is on a psych alert for various reasons, such as age, crime, publicity and sentencing.” No timetable was provided.

Bonjean wasn’t satisfied with the explanation. “Simply put, MDC Brooklyn is run like a gulag,” she wrote.

Kelly said the “harsh conditions” he faced led to “severe mental distress,” and amounted to cruel and unusual punishment that violated the US Constitution’s Eighth Amendment.

He is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, though the docket suggests Kelly is seeking $100 million.

The jail did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Known for the 1996 Grammy-winning hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” Kelly was convicted last September on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which bars transporting people across state lines for prostitution.

Prosecutors said Kelly exploited his stardom and wealth over two decades to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex, with the help of his entourage.

Kelly said he was also put on suicide watch after his conviction.

Ghislaine Maxwell, another inmate at the Brooklyn jail, was placed on suicide watch on June 24, four days before being sentenced to 20 years in prison for aiding financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of underage girls.

Maxwell’s lawyer said the British socialite had been given a “suicide smock” and deprived of clothing, toothpaste and soap though she too was not suicidal.

Friday’s filings did not say what specific conditions Kelly faced.

Kelly still faces an August trial in Chicago federal court on child pornography and obstruction charges, and various state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

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