If you’re an avid social media user and like to be in-the-know of all the latest food, travel and hospitality happenings in Abu Dhabi and beyond, there’s a good chance that you’ve come across one of Out & About UAE’s posts. From sharing the latest culinary openings to finding the best staycation spots and even dabbling in a little photography, David Tapley is the brains behind this fast-growing platform. FACT caught up with the East Londoner who now calls Abu Dhabi home to learn more about his creative approach and exactly what makes his brand so popular…

Hi David! You’ve created quite a stir on the Abu Dhabi hospitality scene with Out & About UAE, take us back to where it all started…

Out & About UAE started as a means to share my finds with both friends here in the UAE and back home in the UK. Before long my passion for all things food took over and the blog became far more food and beverage focused, although we do still cover sights, attractions and events. In a very short space of time the blog became successful due to the fact that the UAE is so embracing of creative types and I know that if I had started this project back in London, it wouldn’t have had the same impact.

How do you feel about being called a “blogger” – is that a term that you would identify with Out & About UAE, or is your goal to do something a little different?

I know that some people don’t like the term ‘blogger’ but personally I’m fine with it. The definition of a blog is of someone posting their own experiences on a website and that is exactly what I do. The beauty of having a blog is that you don’t have to conform to the practices of the mainstream media, as a blogger you have much more freedom. Hopefully one day ‘Out & About’ will become something bigger but for now, it’s very much a blog.

Why food and hotels and not music and tech, for example – what is it, specifically, about the UAE hospitality industry that sparks so much interest?

The UAE has some remarkable properties that have captured the attention of the world and having the opportunity to explore places such as the seven star Burj Al Arab, the worlds furthest leaning tower (Hyatt Capital Gate) or a private island like Zaya Nurai, is exciting. The UAE is renowned for its glamour and excess and there is no better representation of this than within the hospitality industry.

If there’s one thing the UAE does well, it’s food! Tell us your three favourite culinary spots in Abu Dhabi and why they stand out for you?

With so many options to choose from in a diverse city like Abu Dhabi it’s a difficult decision to make. I have quite literally fallen in love with Tamba for their modern interpretation of Indian cuisine and their show-stopping desserts (the break-up is a MUST-try for anyone visiting the capital). The recently opened Four Seasons has grabbed my attention too, due to the sheer quality of food and service and their brunch is becoming a firm favourite for my family. I’m really struggling to narrow it down to just three, so i’m just going to throw it all out there! As dim sum lovers it has to be Hakkasan, for views, atmosphere and location the floating pods at Sontaya can’t be beaten, for steak we enjoy The Foundry and for a completely unique experience The St. Regis’ Brunch in the Clouds elevates the dining experience to a whole new level!

What’s your engagement like for Out & About UAE on social media?

I find Instagram to be the most successful platform for Out & About UAE. It’s a visual medium and a great way to share stories with my followers in a fun and interactive way. The UAE has really embraced Instagram and it provides an instant connection with your audience and allows them to become a part of the story. Instagram is where I have the most engagement and funnily enough, a lot of my invites come directly through Instagram.

Has the response/feedback to Out & About UAE been what you expected it to be?

The success of Out & About UAE has been phenomenal and has completely surpassed my expectations. What started out as a hobby has become a full time commitment and one that is growing with each passing day. In 2016 we received approximately 100,000 unique visitors to the website and have had the opportunity to dine at some of the most sought after destinations in the capital. Many people say that the UAE is an ideal place to achieve your goals and for me this has transpired to be true.

In your opinion, what makes a good hotel great – are there any specific elements that you look out for during a stay?

Service is key and how you’re made to feel as a guest is the most important part of any stay. If the staff is not happy it will be reflected in your stay and the service levels throughout this city can vary greatly. Aside from that I’m all about a comfy bed, quality slippers and robes and as regular readers of Out & About will know, how effective the blackout curtains are 🙂

Describe Out And About UAE in one sentence…

Detailed, honest and insightful reviews of the UAE’s fine dining restaurants, luxury hotels and attractions.

Apart from reviews – what other services/content does Out & About UAE offer to make it unique?

I think the unique selling point of Out & About UAE comes from our detailed reviews and high quality imagery. Going forward I would like to add some video blogs and potentially some dining experiences in which readers can participate. We are in talks with a number of brands about various projects for the year, so watch this space…

What is the ULTIMATE goal for Out & About UAE – where do you see it in the next few years and what are some of the ways in which you will achieve this?

For me, it’s all about maintaining a level of consistency and not compromising the brand identity. I hope to continue to build on the relationships that I have with the various hotels, restaurants and PR firms and ultimately it would be ideal to make Out & About my full-time occupation. It stems from a passion and all the hours of hard work, writing and editing are really starting to come to fruition.

GO: Go to www.outandaboutuae.net and check out all the latest food, hotel and nightlife reviews. Follow David on instagram @outandaboutuae for more information.