Reflections on Young Dolph's trip to the UAE: 'He was a genuine human being'

The US rapper was shot and killed in his native city of Memphis on Wednesday

US rapper Young Dolph visited the UAE in 2019. AFP

When Anwar Al Nabulsi picked up Young Dolph – the US rapper who died on Wednesday after being shot in Tennessee in the US – from a luxury hotel in Dubai Marina, he thought it was just another job.

An employee of Luxury Plus, a concierge service tailored to the wealthy, for six years, he spent hundreds of hours with largely Middle Eastern celebrities, from Lebanese crooner Walid Toufic to Emirati singer Aryam, ferrying them around the UAE in vehicles of their choice.

Speaking to The National, Al Nabulsi admits he didn’t know who Young Dolph – renowned for club hits Scale and RNB – was, when collecting him from the hotel's lobby in 2019.

The brief was not specific.

“He requested the service from the actual hotel itself,” he recalls.

“He wanted to just be driven around in Dubai with his wife and see the sights and wanted it done in a Rolls-Royce Phantom.”

Making small talk is not a major part of Al Nabulsi’s job.

Normally, he says, the VIP client is in the car with their family and colleagues and are already familiar with Dubai.

“Dolph was different because he didn’t come here to play a show or work,” he says. “He wanted just to get away from stress and came here to simply unwind.”

Without a hit list of places to see, Young Dolph left it to Al Nabulsi to decide where to go, and the one-day assignment stretched to five.

Al Nabulsi recalls hitting the various shopping locations, including The Dubai Mall and JBR, before taking them to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi in the following days.

By then, Al Nabulsi was well-versed in Young Dolph's gritty style of trap hip-hop – the car's speakers had been playing nothing but the latest tracks from the genre – and he'd also seen a softer side to the 100 Shots rapper rarely seen by fans.

“He was really chilled, considerate and wanted to know about the places we were going and the history of the UAE,” he says.

“Dolph was very sensitive also and you can tell he had a really special relationship with his wife, who was also very kind to me.”

That curiosity was best displayed when the artist arrived at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque for a day tour, where he respectfully donned an Emirati kandura and red chequered headscarf.

Providing his own commentary of the tour on Instagram, Young Dolph reflected on some of his life’s journey thus far.

"This place is so beautiful over here," he said.

"I remember I didn't want to go nowhere far, nowhere where I can't get my car and drive home. This has opened my eyes up.

“This is the most beautiful thing in the world – to look at the creation and keep travelling and looking at culture. My eyes are open now, for real.”

Young Dolph ended his UAE stay on a sweet note with Al Nabulsi, hiring a yacht for a dinner cruise.

Anwar Al Nabulsi, left, and Young Dolph in Dubai in March 2019. Photo: Instagram / @anwar_sy8

The fact he was invited on board was not surprising to Al Nabulsi – by the end of the tour, the pair had become friends.

Indeed, the Instagram video of the star’s low-key arrival at the mosque had him introducing Al Nabulsi to his fans and stating: “I love him to death”.

The pandemic caused the cancellation of Young Dolph’s plans for a return holiday in 2020, when Al Nabulsi was supposed to drive him around in the latest Mercedes-Maybach SUV.

When The National informed Al Nabulsi of the artist’s death, he was stunned. “He was a lovely person. A genuine human being.”

Updated: November 18th 2021, 12:38 PM