Sheikh Khalid Al Qasimi’s adopted city has long been the go-to place for businessmen and entrepreneurs from the Arab world. The Sharjah-born designer and architect shares his cultural, gastronomic, and shopping spots to discover this winter.
The Qasimi menswear label may be based and produced in London, but it encapsulates the passions of its Emirati designer, Sheikh Khalid Al Qasimi, son of the ruler of Sharjah. Infused with nods to traditional Emirati dress, provocative slogans (“Don’t shoot”), and architecturally-influenced cuts, the brand features ready-to-wear separates made for navigating the world’s capital cities and beyond. The contemporary renaissance man shares his London address book.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that there are two restaurants in London I can’t live without. Barrafina has been my regular spot since it opened 10 years ago. The Hart brothers, who also run Quo Vadis, hit a gold mine with this tapas restaurant that now offers three branches in the city and has even gained a Michelin star. Expect a noisy but relaxed atmosphere as you dine watching the chefs work. A selection of fresh seafood is on offer alongside a daily menu. Large king prawns grilled on the plancha and the razor clams are a must. Barrafina.co.uk
Bocca di Lupo
The second of my all-time favorites is Bocca, an Italian-run restaurant that make regulars feel like family. The menu changes monthly to serve seasonal dishes from all over Italy. In early summer, I can’t resist the sea urchin pasta served in its shell, salt-baked fish and crudo with orange segments and watermelon onion salad. Boccadilupo.com
Originally one of London’s first fire stations, the Victorian-era listed building has been transformed into the city’s most fashionable spot by hotel magnate André Balazs. For me, this is where I catch up with friends over Saturday brunch – make sure to try the crab donuts. Chilternfirehouse.com
Be warned, Bao doesn’t take bookings and the lines to get in are rather long. Specializing in Taiwanese street food and its namesake bao steamed buns, the establishment’s Fitzrovia branch is only a stone’s throw away from the studio, which makes it ideal for an indulgent lunch midweek. I’ll order the marinated chicken kimchee and Sichuan mayo. Baolondon.com
Royal China Club
An institution in London for some years, this restaurant specializes in authentic Cantonese cooking. I’m usually found here discussing music for my future shows with sound artist and dear friend Mimi Xu over lobster noodles and dim sum treats. Theroyalchina.co.uk
Rachel Whiteread at Tate Britain
I discovered Rachel Whiteread’s work during the Charles Saatchi Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1997. Her most renowned piece, “House,” consists of an entire Victorian house cast in concrete. Most of her pieces explore space, with the casting of ordinary domestic objects. This fall, Tate Britain celebrates more than 25 years of her career, showcasing well-known works such as “Untitled (100 spaces)” and “Untitled (staircase)” among others. Until January 21.
Basquiat at The Barbican
This artist probably does not need an introduction. Gaining notoriety as part of the informal graffiti duo SAMBO during the late 1970s, Jean-Michel Basquiat gained fame by the mid 1980s with his neo-expressionist paintings, which included social commentary about race and poverty. The Barbican holds the artist’s first large-scale exhibit in the UK to feature more than 100 works of art, including film, photographs, and archive material. Until January 28.
Sir John Soane’s Museum
Located next to Lincoln’s Inn Fields in Holborn, this museum was formerly the home of the neo-classic architect John Soane. It houses a collection of drawings and models of Soane’s projects alongside his private collection of sculpture and paintings. On the first Tuesday of every month, the museum holds evening shows in the house lit by candlelight. It’s an exhibition featuring the story behind its greatest treasure, The Sarcophagus of Seti I. Until April 14.
Built in 1864 by architect George Aitchison for the painter Lord Leighton, it features a collection of paintings and sculptures by Leighton and his contemporaries. My favorite is the Arab hall with its golden dome, mosaics, and intricate Islamic tiles that he collected on his travels across the Middle East.
The Late Night Chameleon Café (LN-CC) concept store in Dalston sells one-off and hard to find pieces from international designers. Check out installations and interiors by Gary Card, while the curated books and music are great for inspiration. Ln-cc.com
Harvey Nichols London
The new menswear floor has been recently renovated at this British institution and, for me, features one of the best selections of menswear in central London. There are always pop-up spaces from young designers and events so make sure to check out what’s on offer. Harveynichols.com
Dover Street Market
The new store in Haymarket has five floors of exciting fashion, music, books, and food. It’s a great place to discover new talent. Doverstreetmarket.com
Cutler and Gross
This is my first stop every time I’m back in London. The amazing staff will make sure you walk out with the best choices and you can also have your sunglasses customized just the way you like them. Cutlerandgross.com