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Dosc: a welcome slice of nostalgia amid Dubai’s bling

Legendary networking spot harks back to early days of the Emirates

Dubai Offshore Sailing Club Dosc Reuters/Saleh Salem
Dosc is at odds with Dubai's modern glitzy, blingy image

Nestled on the Gulf shore in a quiet corner of Jumeirah 3 lies one of Dubai’s great but often overlooked gems – the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, or Dosc as it’s known to its members and aficionados.

Dosc is so at odds with the modern glitzy, blingy image of the city that it comes as a refreshing change from the seven-star splendour of the rest of the 12km Jumeirah strip.

It is almost as old as the UAE itself, having been launched by two British sailing enthusiasts in 1974. Despite alterations and extensions over the years, it retains a feel of how those quaint early days of the Emirates must have been.

It was an early example of the collaboration between locals and the expat community. Nearly half a century ago, Guy and Caroline Temple, with some other expat sailors, had the idea for a club that could take advantage of the excellent sailing conditions off the Gulf coast.

They were fortunate that Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum, then ruler of Dubai, was also taken with the idea and granted them land in what was then called Umm Suqeim Harbour.

It was pretty basic in the early days, as its website relates: “consisting only of a compound with hard landing for boat storage, a launching ramp and another area covered by a barasti roof which provided much-needed shade for weary sailors and their cool boxes”.

Today it has more than 700 members, and a clubhouse which is legendary in the emirate for the quality of its menu and the hospitality of its staff. Plus – and this is something which can only be good for Dubai, its citizens and residents  – it is common ground for Emiratis and expats to meet in an informal, relaxed atmosphere.

Although I’m not a sailor (a committed landlubber, in fact), Dosc was one of the first places I visited when I arrived here in 2006, as the guest of an Emirati colleague who was a member of an informal Anglo-Arab business networking group. They wanted to hear my views on the local print media, which I was happy to give – cautiously.

Mixing and mingling

At dinner there the other night, there were plenty of mainly British expats in the Clubhouse restaurant, family groups, couples and friends out for a night. The Arabs – mainly Emiratis it seemed to me but with a clutch of Omanis, I was informed – were mixing and mingling in mainly male groups, just having a good time.

My host was Alex Blake-Milton, a British PR executive whom I’ve known for as long as I’ve been in the region. He is retiring from his job at Brunswick and this was kind of a farewell dinner. Alex tells me he will still be spending a good deal of time in the UAE though, with the blessing of a golden visa. He’s been a member of Dosc for two decades.

“It’s all about the sailing, really. Fundamentally it’s for people who love sailing and that spawned all other sorts of activities,” he said, as we tucked into delicious Asian food.

The menu has some great British classics, like fish and chips and bangers and mash, but we both went oriental – I with a Tamil chicken curry and he with stir-fried prawn noodles. Simple, hearty and satisfying fare.

Maritime arts

Alex is a skilled sailor and he briefed me on the various kinds of activities that Dosc stages. Before long I was lost in the nautical argot of Lasers and Moths, aided by some photos from Alex’s phone. It all looked extremely dangerous, and I was glad I was firmly on dry land with a table in front of me.

He also told me about Sailability, a programme Dosc has run for many years to teach “people of determination” how to sail. Club members volunteer to teach less advantaged people, mainly youngsters, the maritime arts.

I came away full of good food and wine, cogitating on how much Dubai has changed in just the time I’ve been living there. Dosc is a welcome bit of nostalgia for those earlier days.

Frank Kane is Editor-at-Large of AGBI and an award-winning business journalist. He also acts as a consultant to the Ministry of Energy of Saudi Arabia

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