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Portuguese Salt in Dubai



"Sal" português no Dubai

The Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is the only 7-star hotel in the world, and just from its rating, it’s easy to see why, since its inception in 1999, it has been ranked as the best hotel on the planet. Earth. But if you’re still in doubt, just take a look at this hotel’s image gallery and the dictionary meaning of “luxury” will automatically earn you the name of this iconic Dubai hotel.

It is in Burj Al Arab that you can find a luxurious beach club and a temporary Sal restaurant, which since 2020 has been designed and managed by 33-year-old Portuguese Marta Fidalgo. From the atmosphere to the music to the layout of the space, all the planning for Sala was done by the Portuguese, leaving no detail to chance: “We want to create an unforgettable experience, from the food to the atmosphere.”

“In April o Sal, it was not easy to find people in the midst of a pandemic,” recalls Marta à-Luz, going back to July 2020, when she was tasked with implementing a project conceived by the Jumeirah Group’s CEO, Portuguese José. Silvia. Located on the terrace of the Burj Al Arab, “Sal” covers 10,000 square meters and consists of “30 private cabins, a 300-seat beach club and a 160-seat restaurant.”

Marta explains that the company has about a hundred employees, and more than half of the team is Portuguese, that it is “an operation that requires a lot of organization.” The menu features Portuguese cuisine with Mediterranean influences and dishes are served in crockery from the Portuguese brand Vista Alegre.

For two years, the project was led by several national and international celebrities, including comedian Steve Harvey, singers Akon and Maluma, or actress Lindsay Lohan. There are also a few big names in the sports world, from Ronaldinho to Zidane, Irish wrestler Conor McGregor, or Los Angeles Lakers basketball player LeBron James. The list also includes footballers Marcus Rashford and Karim Benzema. “Missing Cristiano Ronaldo’s visit,” shoots Marta, also remembering the departure of host and current TVI director of entertainment and fantasy, Cristina Ferreira.

Martha Fidalgo arrived in Dubai in 2016 and Sal was the seventh pre-opening of her career, having led the opening of six spaces in the United Arab Emirates and before that one in London. To tell us about her journey, the current director goes back a decade when she left Portugal for England.

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He graduated in Marketing and Tourism and received a Master’s Degree from ISLA in Event Management. “But the doors didn’t open and I thought about going to London to improve my English. I thought: “I’ll go, sit there for 3 months and come back.” [a Portugal]'”. Since then, 10 years have passed. “I was 23 when I moved to London and started working in a restaurant in Camden Town. I started out as a ‘runner’, just delivering food and drinks.”

A year later, she became only a waitress, then she reached the supervisor, then to the assistant manager [gerente] and at this stage he was tasked with planning the opening of a gourmet restaurant in Harrods, a British chain of luxury goods stores. “I was very nervous, Harrods was an imposing place and this was the first time I was going to do a pre-opening. Other types of skills and knowledge were required. I remember thinking, “This is really happening.”

The first opening of Marta Fidalgo will take place in 2014. “It was spectacular, gave a lot of adrenaline. This is a job where every day we do something new, it is very motivating and makes you happy when you see how a restaurant is born,” he recalls. “When you open a restaurant, it’s always a dream someone had.”

Three and a half years after landing in London, he admits that he began to feel a little tired, especially due to the weather. It was then that a call from a friend was reason enough to take the next step: “I started to get tired of time. Always cold or raining. I started to feel like I needed something different. London was chaotic, if I had to be at work at 10 am, I would get up at 6 am. It was when a friend who was already there [no Dubai], with whom he worked in London, told me: “You should come to Dubai. This is a different world. Here it feels like we are on vacation every day. The beach is always nearby, the weather is wonderful.”

So it was. Martha sent her resume and it only took two weeks for her to get a call and have her bags and luggage transported to the United Arab Emirates. He was 27 years old.

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Recovery and restructuring

Marta Fidalgo has no doubts: in Portugal, catering needs a deep and urgent restructuring. “In Portugal, we are still far behind when it comes to restaurant service. The mentality is this: the owner of a cafe or restaurant is also a person who manages – and in most cases is not even trained. They had a dream to open a restaurant, but they did not have the training that would give them the basis for this management, from serving to motivating people.” For Sala’s manager, the restaurant is also in a “very difficult” situation because in Portugal “it’s one of those jobs that are still considered casual.”

“In Sala, half of the team is Portuguese, but you can’t even compare. Starting with rewards and then growth, there is career progression here, this is an industry where there is always an opportunity to rise and grow – from waiter to assistant manager. [gerente] a maximum of a year and a half,” he explains.

“It’s very difficult, you can’t compare the dynamics of our Portugalinho with the dynamics of Dubai. Portugal already has good restaurants and service, but in general the service is poor. There is no intensive training, there is no comprehensive career development, as a result, people do not want to work in restaurants. If we don’t have something that motivates us, goals and objectives to achieve… The other day I was talking to a gentleman who has been a waiter for 30 years… And I think: “How is this possible?” This is Portugal’s problem,” he stresses, before leaving a warning: “The restaurant will suffer even more. The restoration will have to be rebuilt from one end to the other, really big changes are needed.”

However, Marta highlights some exceptions to the rule and recalls instances such as chef and entrepreneur Olivier da Costa’s restaurants where “there is already another service.” “Olivier, for example, has a very ambitious vision for restaurants.” For this reason, it’s no surprise that Chef Olivier’s restaurants are among his top recommendations,”[recomendo] everything but i love the classics [Beach Bar] and Seen”, in addition to Mama Shelter, also in Lisbon, and Poco dos Sabores, in Óbidos, run by brother Fabio Fidalgo, who also has restaurant experience in London.

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High season, Mundial’22 and the future

With Dubai’s high season just around the corner, from October to May, the next few months are expected to be even more hectic, with Martha envisioning “maximum capacity”. In these cases, a two-week advance booking may be required to visit the Beach Club or Sal Restaurant. Added to this is the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which is scheduled for the coming months, November and December.

“This is a very, very turbulent time. At the moment, Qatar – it has 80 hotels – and they are all full; it will be reflected if in Dubai. We are expecting a very busy season and very good prospects for a comeback. At the moment, we cannot make comparisons with similar periods, as everything started with a pandemic, but we expect a great season.”

The near future also promises new challenges as the next steps include the opening of Sala in the capital, Abu Dhabi and the Maldives.

“I am thrilled with the new vacancies and with the continued growth,” emphasizes Marta, who is looking forward to taking her COO to the next level in the near future. “That means having 2/3 sites under my control.” “Now I will plan these openings so that we have the same standards – work, service, menu. To ensure that the DNA is preserved and brand standards are upheld.”

Despite the Portuguese rib in “Sale”, saudade is not a slogan and a return to Portugal is not being considered, at least for now: “I still don’t have that pet that tells me to go back to my root vegetables. I have a lot more to do here. One day I would like to return, but not now.”

“I go to Portugal once a year. The intensity of work does not allow me to travel more often. And as I harden, whenever possible, I always go home, but I try to combine it with other trips, get to know new places, ”he concludes.

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Marseille in California. ″Where the Portuguese is, there is Portugal″



Marseille in California.  ″Where the Portuguese is, there is Portugal″

“You are the future,” President Marcelo Rebelo de Souza told a three-year-old girl dressed in traditional Portuguese clothing who came out to greet him on the podium where he spoke at Artesia Portuguese Salon. The city, located on the outskirts of Los Angeles, has not hosted the President of the Portuguese Republic since 1989. This weekend, he did it with pomp and the setting of an ornate Portuguese-American community bursting with pride.

“We have never lost the honor and responsibility of being representatives of this beautiful flag,” said Jimmy Enes, a member of Artesia DES, a Portuguese descendant, in a welcoming speech delivered in perfect Portuguese. “When we are asked who we are, we always answer”i am portuguese“and not”Portuguese-American“or ‘Portuguese American’,” he said. “That’s why we’re trying step by step to protect our heritage on the outskirts of Los Angeles, one of the greatest cities in the world.”

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Cristiano Ronaldo is injured by the Portuguese national team and thanks the fans for their support



Cristiano Ronaldo is injured by the Portuguese national team and thanks the fans for their support

Cristiano Ronaldo got a cut on his nose and needed a bandage (Photo: MICHAL CIZEK / AFP)

Photo: Lance!

Gratitude. It seems that the attacker Cristiano Ronaldo shared his social media with Portuguese fans after a clash with Czech goalkeeper Vaclik. In the auction, the assailant received a cut on his face and needed a bandage to stop the bleeding.

“Great game, important team win! We remain focused on our goal. Thanks to the Portuguese public for the fantastic support,” the striker wrote on his Instagram account.

The match was marked by a great performance Portugal national team, who beat the Czech Republic 4-0 to take the lead in Nations League Group 2 with ten points with one matchday to go in the group stage of the tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo ended up losing to his team.

After the match, the leader of the Portuguese national team appreciated the result achieved on the road. “It was a very important victory and all teammates should be congratulated on the result,” commented the 37-year-old striker.

With three wins, one draw and one defeat, the Portuguese team has the best attack in their group with eleven goals scored and a net difference of nine. The team is one draw away from qualifying for the tournament series. The next match against Spain is next Tuesday in the city of Braga.

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Thomas Gouveia remains the best Portuguese in the Swiss Challenge



Thomas Gouveia remains the best Portuguese in the Swiss Challenge

Writing with Lusa

Tournament of the second European circuit.

Thomas Gouveia solidified his status as the best Portuguese in the Swiss Challenge this Saturday by finishing the penultimate day of the second European round robin in a group of 31st placed golfers.

Thomas Gouveia hit the card with 73 shots, one over par on the course, after two birdies (one under par hole) and three bogeys (one over), after making 71 shots in the previous two days for a total of 215.

Thomas Bessa needed 75 hits, three over par and tied for scarecrows, he finished 48th with 218 total, five short of Vitor Lopez, 60th with 223, after today needs 78, with just one bird . to fit five scarecrows and a double scarecrow.

The Swiss Challenge, which concludes on Sunday in Folgensburg, France, is still led by France’s Chung Veon Ko with a total of 206 shots, one short of Denmark’s Martin Simonsen in second place.

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