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LIFE

The Dubai Fixer

Words by Rob Chilton

When VIPs come to Dubai, they call James Boothe

James Boothe is the founder and GM of Earl James Group, a travel and tourism agency in Dubai that specialises in bespoke trips and special experiences. He draws on more than 15 years of experience working in events and hospitality in the UAE and London to source everything from yachts and watches to penthouses and private dining rooms. Here, Boothe reveals the wish-lists of his demanding clients.


Supplied Living the high-life at the Burj Al Arab

Your clients must be hard to please, right?

They’re very particular! They know what they want and it’s our job to not only deliver, but exceed their expectations. This way we ensure regular repeat business as well as referrals from their associates. Ultimately, it’s about the most invaluable commodity we all have, which is time. With our services, the client can just show up and know that every aspect of their trip has been well thought out, ensuring they leave Dubai with fantastic memories.

Who are your clients, typically?

The majority tend to be male, high net worth individuals aged 25-40, from the UK and mainland Europe, mostly from sports and finance backgrounds. We also get female business owners and corporate executives arranging large mixed groups.

Do your clients pay a fee for your services, or do you offer a subscription?

Our fees are incorporated into the booking to make it as hassle free as possible for the client, I find this works better than a subscription service.

What restaurants are requested most often?

Places like Zuma, Opa, Nammos and Twiggy are popular. We often arrange prime time bookings at restaurants for large groups, private dining room hire and last minute bookings.

What about beach clubs?

Always. The most memorable was when a client wanted to sail on a 120ft yacht from Dubai Marina to a beach club with 20 friends. We organised the yacht hire, on-board catering and finishing touches, including a VIP reception and table at a beach club.

In Pictures. Luxury lifestyle options

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Twiggy Private dining experiences are a must

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Twiggy Private dining experiences are a must

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Rolex Rolex is the number one brand on VIP shopping lists

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Mandarin Oriental Access to the best beach clubs and pools is high on the agenda

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Mandarin Oriental Access to the best beach clubs and pools is high on the agenda

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Photo courtesy of Gulf Craft A private yacht party? No problem

Where do your clients like to stay in Dubai?

Some want a serviced studio apartment while others want four-bedroom hotel penthouses with adjoining rooms for up to two months. We’ve seen a big increase in longer stays since 2020. Jumeirah al Naseem, Address Sky View and Mandarin Oriental are on the hot list.

Do you source tickets for sporting events?

Horse racing at Meydan was a popular choice pre-Covid. We now find that people favour smaller, more intimate experiences rather than large-scale events.

Do you help them with shopping trips, too?

Yes, we can source hard-to-find gifts and customised items, mostly for our international clients. We get a lot of requests for custom diamond jewellery from the likes of Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier while watches from Rolex, Patek Philippe and Richard Mille are requested most often. We handle everything from liaising with the retail teams to personalised delivery of the item to either the client or the lucky recipient.

What special experiences are top of the list?

Most international clients like to incorporate yacht rentals into their Dubai stay and everyone seems to love the fine dining experiences. City tours and desert excursions are also very popular.

What was one memorable experience you arranged?

I remember a client proposing to his girlfriend on a yacht with a sushi delivery to the yacht out at sea – nothing is impossible, especially in Dubai.

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