FESTIVALS


 

 

 
As part of its effort to lure tourists to the city, the
Dubai authorities have encouraged the

development of several major sporting and cultural events. All of these, with the exception of Dubai Summer Surprises, take place between October and March.

 

January

 

DUBAI MARATHON

www.dubaimarathon.org

Equipped with a prize fund of a million dollars, the Dubai Marathon attracts the

biggest names in long-distance running. For the opportunity to compete with them

over 26 miles, you have to register by the end of the previous year. Less energetic

types can enter a 10km run or a 4km ‘fun run’.

 

DUBAI SHOPPING FESTIVAL

www.mydsf.com

Reports of Russian millionaires chartering passenger jets so they can return from the

Dubai Shopping Festival with planeloads of purchases are probably exaggerated,

but the annual instalment of DSF certainly at

 

tracts millions of tourists each year. Don’t

expect to find stupendous bargains in the malls; the sale prices are rarely spectacular.

Do expect to find plenty of live music, kids’ events, sporting activities, nightly fireworks

over the Creek, and the hugely popular Global Village, which runs for three months

from mid-December.

 

February

 

DUBAI INTERNATIONAL JAZZFESTIVAL

www.dubaijazzfest.com

Held in the week following the Shopping Festival, this increasingly popular event

is staged at Dubai Media City over three nights. While the mainstream is well catered

for, jazz purists may sneer at the choice of performers, with recent headliners

including Toto, ELO, Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, and Roger Hodgson of

Supertramp.

 

DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC

www.dubaidesertclassic.com

Until November 2009, when the biggest names on the greens will compete for a

US$10-million prize purse at the first Dubai World Championship, the Dubai Desert Classic remains the emirate’s leading golf event. It takes place on the first weekend of February at the immaculate Emirates Golf Club, and has earned a reputation for delivering high drama on the last day of competition.

 

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS

www. dubaitennischampionships.com

Held over two weeks in February and March, the championships consist of a

Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) event followed by an Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) event. It’s a great opportunity to see some of the best players in the world in a relatively small stadium. Ticket prices – especially for the earlier rounds – offer

great value for money.

 

March

 

DUBAI DESERT ROCK

www.desertrockfestival.com

Dubai’s surprisingly large contingent of Goths can be spotted nervously adjusting to sunlight in the mosh-pits of this annual live rock music event. In recent years, headliners of the two-day festival have included Iron Maiden, Robert Plant, Megadeth and Muse.

 

ART DUBAI

www.artdubai.ae

The arrival of this ambitious international art fair in 2007 confirmed that art is big

business in the Gulf, despite a lack of major galleries. The Madinat Jumeirah provides a

suitably glamorous setting for the artists, dealers and gallery owners to mingle in

and show off their stuff.

 

DUBAI WORLD CUP

www.dubaiworldcup.com

The Dubai International Racing Carnival, running from February through to the end of

March, culminates in the Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race and the city’s

biggest social event. While there’s no betting, many of Dubai’s society women take a

punt in wearing some of the silliest hats this side of the Melbourne Cup. Godolphin, the

stable owned by Dubai’s royal family, tends to dominate proceedings on the racetrack.

 

June, July & August

 

DUBAI SUMMER SURPRISES

www.mydsf.com

Perhaps the most surprising thing about DSS is that it manages to attract any visitors

at all. It takes place, after all, at the sweaty height of the sweltering summer.

But a combination of free kids’ entertainment, sales in shopping malls, and Modhesh,

a springy yellow mascot, draws in plenty of tourists from other Gulf nations.

 

October

 

UAE DESERT CHALLENGE

www.uaedesertchallenge.com

This desert rally, the final race of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, starts in Abu

Dhabi and finishes in Dubai. It’s held over five days, takes in some challenging terrain,

and attracts car, truck and motorbike riders.

 

DESERT RHYTHM FESTIVAL

www.desertrhythmfestival.com

Following the success of the second instalment of Desert Rhythm in 2007, at which

Kanye West, Mika, Joss Stone and Madness made their UAE debuts, it seems likely that

this two-day music festival will go from strength to strength in the coming years.

 

November

 

DUBAI RUGBY SEVENS

www.dubairugby7s.com

Part of the IRB World Sevens Series, the Dubai Rugby Sevens features 16 international

squads, a huge number of amateur teams and live entertainment over three

days. While England and Australia receive plenty of support from the mainly expatriate

crowd, the Arabian Gulf team, consisting of players from Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar,

Saudi, Oman and the UAE, get the biggest cheers of the day.

 

December

 

DUBAI INTERNATIONAL FILM

FESTIVAL

www.dubaifilmfest.com

Independent and art-house cinema is thin on the ground in Dubai, making this

excellent non-competitive film festival the cultural highlight of the year for the city’s

cinephiles. There’s a focus on cinema from Arab countries and the Indian subcontinent,

while visits from the likes of George Clooney, Sharon Stone and Morgan

Freeman help get the public excited.


 
 
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