Dahab 'reloaded' - enter the Arabesque

21-11-2003

There aren't many places in Prague where one could go to completely lose oneself in a different culture - but there are a few. A sure bet is Dahab - Prague's self-styled 'odpocivarna' or chill-out space - where you can enter a world mixing countless Arabian influences in a thousand-and-one different styles. The perfect place to spend an afternoon over a cup of tea, a place to lounge with a favourite book, or to have lunch or dinner with friends, eating authentic dishes from the Middle East, long studied by Dahab's head chef. As you slip back onto the Afghan cushions you may feel yourself slipping into another world. The menu reads 'Dahab Reloaded' - a reference to the venue's new assortment of dishes.

Lubos Rychvalsky is the owner of Dahab and he's as well-travelled a person as you could hope to meet. His experiences in the Middle East persuaded him the Czech public needed something like Dahab in Prague.

"Out of the last twelve years I spent around two years travelling in the Arab world: Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey as well as Saudia Arabia. Their hospitality and their means of communication over tea, their relaxed way of life was very inspiring. From my travels I gained a sensibility for their cuisine, their interiors, and a sense for detail."

Once inside you'll be astounded by the size of the main hall, the sheer number of rooms, the attention to detail - lamps hanging from heavy chains in a row above, intricate blue and white Arabesque tiles, a combination of apricot and soft blue coloured ceilings, Persian carpets, and dark wooden furniture. The main room stretches out so far, you'll feel like you're on a movie set. Or inside a harem. Or in someone's oriental dream.

"This restaurant and this chill-out space can be characterised as such: it's as long as a Cario café, as colourful as a Turkish tearoom, and inside you find Moroccan furniture. {laughs} Basically it's all a mix, but it's a kind of an inspired work, a naive work of my own."

Visiting Dahab is also intensified by what's on offer - water pipes, for example, the so called 'hubble-bubble' you can use with friends and enjoy. Belly dancing is also held every Friday night. Finally, I was curious to ask Mr Rychvalsky how visitors from the Middle East had found Dahab - were they surprised that such a place even existed in Prague?

"It's true that Arab visitors are surprised that Dahab is not owned by an Arab - they don't understand this. They can't understand that it can be so Arabic in style yet not be owned by one of their own."

Dahab is a gorgeous locale - all Arabesque, endless detail. When you come to Prague and eventually get tired of the Renaissance or even the Gothic, feeling you might need "reloading" yourself this might just be the place. A place to plan a trip to somewhere you've never been - close your eyes and leaf through the atlas. Where it you stop and where you go is up to you alone.

21-11-2003