What’s On Dubai is packed with expert opinions, Complete Dubai City Information Guide including Dubai Arts Culture, Health Fitness, Dubai Hotels & Restaurants reviews, Events, Sports, Nightlife, Bars Club,Cinemas, Travel,holidays, Beauty and diet
This high number of passengers is set to peak again on Friday December 21 and Friday December 22 during the home stretch to Christmas.
With roadworks causing traffic and delays around DXB, Emirates is warning passengers to allow extra time for their journey to the airport. Passengers can physically check in at the airport as early as six hours before their flight leaves.
Those who try to check in less than 60 minutes before their flight will not be accepted for travel.
To speed up the process, passengers can also check in online from 48 hours to 90 minutes before their flight.
After almost 10 years in the making, Dubai Frame finally opened to the public in January. The landmark, located in Zabeel Park, has not only been designed to “frame” some of the city’s most iconic buildings when you look at it from a distance, but also offers spectacular views of Dubai from the top of the 150-metre-high structure.
Dubai Frame, Zabeel Park, Dubai, daily 9am to 9pm, Dhs50 adults, Dhs20 children. dubaiframe.ae
If you spend a lot of time at JBR, over the last couple of years you will have witnessed the Bluewaters development take shape across the water. And now you can finally step foot on it, as the island destination opened to the general public in November. Connected to JBR via a direct link from Sheikh Zayed Road, as well as a 265-metre-long pedestrian bridge, the island will be home to two hotels as well as restaurants, shops and residences. There isn’t much open at the minute aside from a handful of shops, but the Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai is already welcoming guests to both stay and dine, and brings with it Cove Beach Club and the Rotunda theatre.
It’s not exactly something we all welcomed with open arms, but 2018 was the year in which value-added tax kicked off in the UAE. The introduction of VAT saw a small rise in the cost of living, with a 5 per cent tax on good and services including food, water and electricity (though public transport, international air travel, education and healthcare are exempt).
Bringing a slice of international history to Dubai, the QE2 finally opened as a floating hotel this year after almost a decade in Dubai. Located in Port Rashid, it’s been restored to look like it did when it was sailing the world in the 1970s. There are 224 guest rooms, an interactive museum, and there’s even been a restoration of the casino (with its original slot machines now decommissioned). You’ll also find a theatre, cinema and 13 dining and nightlife options – including some of the ship’s original restaurants. Our highlight is The Queen’s Grill, which serves up a menu that the Queen of England would enjoy when she dined onboard.
QE2, Port Rashid, Dubai. Tel: (04) 526 8888. QE2.com
While 2017 was the year of the Dubai Marina zipline, 2018 saw the grand reveal of a human slingshot on Kite Beach. The human slingshot sees solo riders propelled at a force up to 4Gs, reaching speeds of up to 100 kilometres an hour in just half a second, traveling 120 metres over sand and water.
XDubai Slingshot, Kite Beach, Dubai, Thurs to Sat from Friday October 26, Dhs280. xdubai/slingshot
Museum of Illusions
The world’s biggest Museum of Illusions opened in Dubai’s Al Seef district in September. With no less than 80 exhibits of all shapes and sizes, Museum of Illusions Dubai is filled with an impressive collection of optical illusions that museum-goers can experience and interact with.
Museum of Illusions Dubai, Al Seef, Sun to Weds 10am to 10pm, Thurs to Sat 10am to midnight, Dhs80 adults, Dhs60 children. museumofillusions.ae
A glamping retreat
Earlier this year, Hatta became home to the region’s first “trailer hotel”, where visitors can camp along the banks of Hatta Dam in luxuriously appointed trailers. There’s two types of unit – the Hatta Sedr trailers, and the slightly bigger Hatta Damani Lodges, with rates from Dhs250 per night.
Hatta Sedr Trailers by Meraas, Hatta Dam, Hatta, rates from Dhs250. visithatta.com
The reopening of Address Downtown
The Address Downtown re-opened its doors in June after it suffered substantial damage during a fire on New Year’s Eve 2015. The 63-storey property features 220 guest rooms and suites, a new spa, several brand new restaurants as well as updates to some of the best-loved brands that were previously in the hotel. We welcomed the return of 63rd floor bar Neos, while also welcoming new additions STK, The Galliard, Zeta and The Restaurant.
Just when you thought world’s largest mall couldn’t get any bigger, this year it added space for more than 150 luxury shops. The long-awaited extension to Fashion Avenue opened in March, housing a number of high-end brands including Gucci, Mikimoto, Dolce & Gabbana, Hermes, Rolex and Cartier. It also brought a stack of new restaurants with it, such as an upgraded version of Katsuya By Starck, Lebanese restaurant Babel, and a 12,000 square foot, 12 kitchen Todd English Food Hall.
Situated on Yas Island, the region’s largest indoor theme park opened this year in the capital. Inside you’ll find six lands featuring 29 rides, plus a tonne of cartoon characters to hang out with, including DC Comics stars Batman and The Joker, Wonder Woman and Superman, plus Looney Tunes favourites Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.
Make sure these names are on your 2019 reading list…
The line-up for the 2019 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature has been announced, and it features everyone from famous crime writers to former presidents.
Now in its 11th year, the festival will take place from March 1 to 9, and will play host to some pretty big names. Tickets are on sale now.
Highlights include Mary Robinson, Ireland’s first ever female president and author of Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future.
Meanwhile Jane Hawking will be discussing her memoir about her marriage to the late physicist Stephen Hawking, Travelling to Infinity, which inspired the 2014 biopic The Theory of Everything.
Jeff Kinney, the author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, will also make an appearance, while fans of Shaun the Sheep and Thunderbirds Are Go will be able to catch the writers behind those TV shows.
Who else is coming? Here’s who we’re excited to see (for the full line-up, you can visit emirateslitfest.com).
One of the world’s most famous crime fiction writers, Ian Rankin is best known for his novels about Inspector Rebus and detective Malcolm Fox.
Matt Dickinson is a writer and filmmaker with National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and the BBC on his CV. He became one of the first British filmmakers to film on the summit of Everest, and wrote an autobiography based on the expedition called The Death Zone. He’s also written several books for younger readers, including The Everest Files series.
London-based Australian cookbook writer Kate Young created The Little Library Cookbook, which features a collection of more than 100 recipes based on her favourite books.
Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler
Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler are an Emmy Award-winning screenwriting duo behind TV shows including Danger Mouse, Thunderbirds Are Go, Peter Rabbit and Shaun the Sheep.
One of the co-hosts of the Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye, Brandy Scott will be discussing her debut novel, Not Bad People, which is to be released early next year.
A respected science journalist and broadcaster, Sue Nelson is the author of the biography Wally Funk’s Race for Space: The Extraordinary Story of a Female Aviation Pioneer.
Scottish author and high school philosophy teacher Pamela Butchart is behind colourful titles such as The Spy who loved School Dinners and My Head Teacher is a Vampire Rat.
Omar Saif Ghobash
Omar Saif Ghobash is an Emirati author and diplomat who wrote Letters to a Young Muslim. He is currently the UAE’s ambassador to France, and previously served as the UAE ambassador to Russia. He speaks six languages.
Karen Osman is a Dubai-based writer and entrepreneur who is best known for her psychological thrillers, The Good Mother and The Home.
If you like history then it would be worth checking out Patricia Vigderman, who wrote The Real Life of the Parthenon. Vigderman is also a translator and former magazine editor.
Keen to spend a weekend away in the great outdoors? Here are the best camping options that are driving distance from Dubai…
White Sands Beach
Perfect for: Beach-loving campers
Photo: Pete Maloney
The lowdown: White Sands Beach isn’t an official area, but rather a nickname given to a stretch of coastline in Oman located between Fins and Wadi Shab. We won’t lie – it’s a long drive, but well worth it to pitch your tent on a cliff above an empty sandy beach and fall asleep to the sound of the waves. Plus, the remote nature of the area means you hopefully won’t have to share your spot with many other campers.
Things to do in the area: For water babies, it’s the perfect camping spot. Bring your snorkels and paddleboards for exploring the coastline (keep an eye out for sea urchins near the beach though). Be sure to visit Wadi Shab just a short drive away, where you can hike through the dramatic wadis and cool off by diving into the deep, emerald green pools.
Difficulty rating: 3/5. Medium. It’s not a complicated route, but the long drive is not one you’d want to take alone.
4×4 needed? Not essential, but recommended.
Time: Seven hours
Directions from Dubai: Drive towards Muscat but just before you get to the city, get on the new Muscat Expressway. Head in the direction of Sur and follow the coastline until you find a good spot.
Perfect for: Desert adventurers and Star Wars fans
The lowdown:It’s been a couple of years since Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens hit our screens, and we’re still excited at the prospect of visiting one of the filming locations. Liwa is located in the Empty Quarter, or Rub Al Khali, the largest sand desert in the world. We can’t guarantee that you’ll find an abandoned Millennium Falcon, but you will experience incredible (and massive) sand dunes, miles of wilderness and some of the brightest starry nights you’ll ever see in the UAE.
Things to do in the area: We recommend renting a couple of fat bikes beforehand (you can pick one up from Adventure HQ for Dhs150 per day): there’s nothing better than zipping across the dunes on their puffy tyres, especially as the sun is setting. Experienced off-roaders will have a blast doing a bit of dune bashing, but keep in mind that this is not an easy area to get out of if you get into trouble: carry plenty of food and water, and don’t travel in convoys of less than three 4x4s, just in case someone needs towing.
Difficulty rating:4/5. Medium to hard. It’s relatively simple to find, but you’ll need some off-roading skills if you want to head off the beaten path and into the dunes. It’s not one for beginners – we recommend travelling with an experienced group.
4×4 needed? Essential
Directions from Dubai:Drive from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, take the E11, turn on to E65 to Emirates National Auto Museum. Keep following the E65 until you see the sign to Qasr Al Sarab. Ignore it – follow the road right instead.
Al Qudra Lakes
Perfect for: Beginners
The lowdown: Al Qudra Lakes is the ideal location if you’re new to camping in the UAE, or just looking for a low-key break from the city that won’t require a huge amount of effort. You won’t need a 4×4 to reach these picturesque lakes, and the area is within half an hour’s drive of the city. Keep in mind that because it’s so easily accessible, it’s popular with weekend warriors.
Things to do in the area: Al Qudra Lakes might be manmade but it’s still a picturesque slice of greenery, with plenty of trees and wildlife, especially birds, to be spotted in and around the water. If you’re feeling sporty you could also go for a bike around the nearby Al Qudra Cycle Track, where you might also spot wild oryx and gazelle (rent a bike from the Trek store). If the great outdoors get too much for you, there’s always Bab Al Shams Resort And Spa nearby for a little R&R. It’s unlikely you’ll need it though, as there are plenty of amenities in the area. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, see if you can track down Dubai’s new man-made Love Lakes.
Difficulty rating: 1/5. An easy to reach spot with minimal off-roading.
4×4 needed? No
Time: Half an hour
Directions from Dubai: Take Hessa Street to the start of Al Qudra Cycle Track, turn left, turn right and take the off-road track. Follow it until you find a good spot.
Fossil Rock, Sharjah
Perfect for: Day trippers and desert newbies
The lowdown: Fossil Rock is one of the most popular hangout spots for Dubai’s weekend warriors, from dune bashers and dune buggy riders to trail runners. The surrounding dunes are the perfect location to set up camp, especially for large groups who don’t mind a bit of noise and excitement. It’s also close enough to civilisation that newbies can feel comfortable knowing their home comforts are not too far away.
Things to see and do:This is one of the best places in the UAE for a spot of dune bashing, but we recommend it for experienced off-roaders only. The Camel Rock nearby is also worth a visit, as is Big Red, a huge red dune that’s popular with dune buggying daredevils.
Difficulty rating: 2/5. Easy to medium – it’s simple to get to, but requires some off-roading skills.
4×4 needed? Essential for navigating the sand dunes.
Time: One hour
Directions from Dubai: Take the 611 towards Sharjah. Turn right onto the Sharjah-Kalba Road, then turn right again at the big junction surrounded by pylons.
… and for glamping
Perfect for: A weekend with your novice camper friends
The lowdown: Set on the shoreline near Jebel Ali, this picture-perfect camping spot is kitted out with dozens of colourful wooden-framed tents and chalets for a more luxury experience – so you don’t need to bring your own, plus a barbecue area, and hammocks. It’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Things to see and do: As well as wiling away the day in a hammock, or BBQing by the beach, there’s also facilities including watersports and a mini market onsite. Fancying practicing your shooting? Head to the nearby Jebel Ali Shooting Club
Difficulty rating: 1/5. Easy – it’s simple to get to and you’ve got everything you’ll need on site.
4×4 needed? No.
Time: 20 minutes
Directions from Dubai: Take the E11 towards Abu Dhabi. Exit at exit 13 in the direction of D53/Al Maktoum airport Street towards Jebel Ali Port 7 and 8. Take the third exit at the roundabout, then first right opposite the Jebel Ali shooting club and follow the signs.
Hatta Sedr Trailers
Perfect for: Getting outdoors without the stress of pitching your tent
The lowdown: Not much of a camper? Hatta is now home to the region’s first “trailer hotel”, where visitors can camp along the banks of Hatta Dam in luxuriously appointed trailers. There’s two types of unit – the Hatta Sedr trailers, and the slightly bigger Hatta Damani Lodges, with rates from Dhs250 per night.
Things to see and do: Hatta is becoming quite the go-to destination for adventurers. There’s the new Hatta Wadi Hub, which offers a range of both paid and free activities such as mountain biking, downhill carting, a human sling shot, axe throwing, archery, adventure rope courses, zip lines, and more. You’ll also find Hatta Drop-In, a “water jump park” with crazy slides and intriguing-sounding “drop-in donuts”.
Difficulty rating: 0/5. Super easy – it’s a more luxurious version of camping.
4×4 needed? No.
Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Directions from Dubai: Take the S102 out of Dubai towards the S116 and follow onto the E102 Sharjah/Kalba road. Head onto the E44 Dubai-Hatta road and follow signs for Hatta Oman, taking the second exit at the roundabout.
Sponsored: Expect carol singers, visits from Santa, a huge Christmas tree and even snowfall…
The festive season is in full swing across the city, and if you’re looking to spread some festive cheer, look no further than Dubai Festival City Mall. For the first time ever, the outdoor Festival Bay will be turning into a magical festive market, complete with a huge Christmas tree, a pop-up market and even snowfall.
Running from Thursday December 6 until Christmas day on Tuesday December 25, the Festival Bay winter wonderland will offer festive fun for all the family in the lead up to Christmas.
Each day, little ones will be able to pay a visit to Santa from 3pm until 10pm through the week and 4pm to 10pm on weekends, as well as playing in the snow as hourly snowfall drops on the magical festive market. There will also be carnival games and rides plus arts and crafts, face painting and festive storytelling, serving up hours of endless fun for children.
For adults, the festive market will see a variety of vendors selling unique and handcrafted items, making last-minute Christmas shopping totally stress-free.
A huge Christmas tree will be the star of the show – lit up in the centre of the celebrations and visible all the way from Business Bay. Plus the stunning IMAGINE light and laser show will get a festive twist through the month of December, serving as the perfect backdrop to the festive activities.
We know where we’ll be this winter…
Fesetive market at Dubai Festival City Mall, Thursday December 6 to Tuesday December 25, free. dubaifestivalcity.com
The brand is promising big changes from this Friday, complimentary drinks for ladies and an A-list star to launch its new night…
You might know Drai’s as the day-to-night party spot, home to a lively Tuesday ladies’ day and Saturday party brunch, but that’s all about to change. The Meydan hotspot is currently undergoing a major makeover that’s set to take it from daytime party place to after dark superclub.
Although we don’t have any images of the new spot yet, we’ve been promised “mind-blowing production, lighting & entertainment”, so we can’t wait to see what’s in store.
To celebrate the launch of the new nightclub experience, Drai’s will welcome the return of American rapper Big Sean for a live performance.
Big Sean, who has worked with industry heavyweights including Kanye West, Travis Scott and Ariana Grande, will kick off two-days of performances at Drai’s on Friday December 14, with a performance at White’s weekly ladies’ night, URBN, on Saturday December 15.
A top notch buffet, free flowing drinks and some serious belly laughs from Dhs300? Sign us up…
The Laughter Factory is one of our favourite nights out for guaranteed laughs. And this December, they’re launching a new festive evening brunch package – perfect for getting your mates together or an alternative office party.
The packages are available at The Talk international eatery in the Movenpick JBR on Thursday December 13 and Toshi Asian restaurant in the Grand Millennium Barsha Heights on Friday December 14.
Included is unlimited dishes from an extensive buffet spread from 7pm, alongside free flowing soft drinks for Dhs300 or free flowing house drinks for Dhs350 – which gives you plenty of time to fuel up before the show starts at 9pm.
Speaking of the show, it’s a brand new bill for December that’s sure to get you laughing out loud.
Irish A-lister Rory O’ Hanlon is a charismatic stand-up and presenter who also hosts witty and hilarious podcast, An Irishman Abroad. He’ll be joined by the straight-talking Josh Howie, bringing his brashly confessional approach to the stage fresh from this year’s Edinburgh Fringe show, Talk Hard.
Completing the line-up is Tanyalee Davis, who makes her laughter factory debut this month.
Regular tickets are available too, priced at Dhs150.
The Laughter Factory, The Talk, Movenpick JBR, Thursday December 13 and Toshi, Grand Millennium Barsha Heights, Friday December 14, packages from Dhs300, tickets Dhs150. Tel: (050) 8786728. thelaughterfactory.com
Super sales, fireworks, and pop-up markets are all part of the DSF fun…
There’s only a few weeks to go until the Dubai Shopping Festival kicks off, and with extended dates this year, it’s expected to be bigger than ever before.
New to the city? Dubai Shopping Festival is the most important event on the retail calendar. From December 26 to February 2, you’ll be able to bag bargains from more than 700 brands at 3200 outlets across the city’s malls.
Here are just some of the things you can expect from the retail bonanza…
Well, obviously. Retailers will be offering between 25 per cent and 75 per cent off a range of products throughout the whole festival, but hardcore bargain hunters should also keep an eye out for these special events:
12 Hour Sale: DSF will kick off with a 12-hour mega sale across six Majid Al Futtaim malls (including Mall of the Emirates) on December 26, with up to 90 per cent off certain items across fashion, beauty, homeware and lifestyle. This mega sale will start at midday and run through to midnight.
DSF Weekend Surprises: Starting on December 27, DSF Weekend Surprises sees one select brand or product range offer discounts of up to 90 per cent. The deal will only be announced 24 hours in advance, so keep your eyes peeled – and then head to the specified shopping location at 10am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Shop the Night Away: Certain malls will be hosting Shop the Night Away evenings every Wednesday throughout DSF (the first one will be on January 9). Starting from 6pm, deal-hunters can pick up promotion bundles at their favourite shops, as well promotions on food courts and restaurants. There will also be workshops, styling sessions, and VIP gift bags on offer.
MARKET OUTSIDE THE BOX
This cool pop-up market will return to Burj Park from January 24 to February 2. Expect roaming entertainment, street-style food vendors and kids’ play areas, as well as plenty of unique homegrown brands and local designers.
Fireworks fans are in for a treat, as there will be displays every Thursday and Friday night throughout DSF. These will take place in three locations: Al Seef, La Mer and The Beach at JBR.
Dubai Shopping Festival, December 26 to February 2. mydsf.ae
It might look like something out of an African safari, but the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is located just a few minutes’ drive from Dubai Mall. More than 20,000 birds of 67 species inhabit the area, which is most famous for its magnificent flock of flamingos. To see them, head to one of three viewing hides dotted around the perimeter of the sanctuary. These are open from 9am to 4pm Saturday to Thursday, and entrance is free (there are binoculars available to borrow, too).
Not too many people know about this beautiful mosque, but you might be lucky enough to stumble upon it while wandering around the area near the Textile Souk. Also known as the Ali ibn Abi Talib Mosque, the building is adorned with intricate blue tiles. It’s one of two ornately decorated Iranian mosques in Dubai – the other, Imam Hussein Mosque, is located in Satwa.
If you think five-star hotels are the only way to staycay in Dubai, you clearly haven’t heard of Banan Beach. Set on the shoreline near Jebel Ali, this picture-perfect camping spot is kitted out with dozens of colourful wooden-framed tents, a barbecue area, and hammocks. It’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Believe it or not, this stunning turquoise dam is less than a two-hour drive from Dubai. Surrounded by rocky mountains, you’ll enjoy some spectacular views along the way – don’t forget to bring a picnic. To make the most of the calm waters, we recommend renting a kayak or pedal boat from Hatta Kayak.
Al Ain Oasis had the honour of becoming the UAE’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 2011. Spread over 3000 acres, the oasis is one of the world’s oldest permanently inhabited settlements, dating back more than 4000 years. You can wander through its tranquil pathways, with more than 147,000 date palm trees providing a lovely green canopy.
Named after the cartoon dog which the island is said to resemble in shape, Snoopy Island is a marine paradise offering some of the best snorkeling in the GCC. Turtles, fish every colour of the rainbow and even little white tip reef sharks have made this sparkling cerulean sea their home.
About a 45-minute drive from Abu Dhabi is the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, a five-square-kilometre area of water bodies, salt flats and dunes. Its star attraction is flamingos – the birds bred there for the first time in 1998, and the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan established the reserve as a protected area. It’s now the only site in the UAE where the birds continue to breed regularly.
This might look like a scene you’d be more likely to find at a five-star resort in the Maldives, but you’ll actually find this pretty ocean swing at the Dubai Ladies Beach Club in Jumeirah. Non-members can purchase a guest pass to use the private beach – visit the Dubai Ladies Club website for more details.
Abu Dhabi’s highest peak at 1,240 metres, you’ll find the “empty mountain” as it’s called in Arabic in Al Ain. Its winding turns make it a great road to drive up, and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views at the top. At its base are ancient burial tombs that date back an incredible 5,000 years.
Did you know that Ras Al Khaimah is home to a Stairway To Heaven? The breathtaking mountain trail, located in Wadi Ghalilah near the Oman border, is not for the faint-hearted – only experienced climbers should attempt it – but making it up the 1900 metres to the top will not only score you an epic photo, but some serious bragging rights.
Sponsored: The Pointe is the only place to be this weekend…
If The Pointe isn’t already on your radar, here’s why it needs to be. Found at the tip of The Palm opposite Atlantis, this new Dubai destination is slowly filling up with new restaurants, shops and even a cinema, and it’s set to become a top option for weekend in the city.
The Pointe will also serve as a new function space for concerts and events, and this weekend their flying in their first mega artist, Enrique Iglesias. On Friday December 14, the the event program starts at 4pm with a line-up of DJs and live entertainment, followed by an open act who will warm up for Enrique, who will take to the stage at 9pm.
Stick around afterwards, as a stunning fireworks show will lead into the after party.
The Latin heartthrob will perform a string of his best-loved English and Spanish hits on a purpose built stage that has been constructed especially for the occasion overwater.
Tickets are priced at Dhs150, but you’ll be given Dhs115 back to spend on food at selected restaurants. So why not head down early and grab some dinner at one of there ever growing list of venues?
Highlights include Chicago Meatpackers, a German-born concept famous for serving up an All-American menu of burgers, steaks and beers. Or if you’re a seafood-ie, head to The Seafood Kitchen, for an array of fresh catches cooked to order. After a taste of Eastern Europe? Check out Chalet Berezka; the split level, licensed concept promises a diverse menu of Eastern European dishes, daily live shows and a beverage and shisha license that extends to 3am through the week and 5am on weekends.
Guests can park either at The Monorail (limited spaces), or Al Ittihad park on The Palm, with regular shuttle buses put on from 3pm to 2am taking guests to The Pointe.
If you’re coming via taxi, they can also drop guests off at Al Ittihad park, who can then hop on the free shuttle bus.
Enrique Iglesias at The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah, 4pm to 3am, Friday December 14, Dh150 with Dh115 redeemable at various dining outlets at The Pointe. ticketmaster.ae.