New for Dubai in 2012

The biggest gigs, shows, festivals and openings in Dubai Discuss this article

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Aside from the fact that 2012 is the Chinese Year of the Dragon (which sounds way more hardcore than 2011’s year of the rabbit) there are plenty of things to get excited about in 2012. Simulating breathing fire on one’s friends may or may not be high on your list. One thing is for sure, though: Dubai is on the up, as the bevy of new restaurants, hotels and club openings demonstrates. And to further prove the emirate’s success, the news that Dubai’s population will reach two million this month means expats are still flocking to our shores to make the most of this great city. Here are the reasons we’re tipping 2012 as your best year here yet. Get out and make it yours.

Dubai loves a restaurant-slash-lounge, so it’s fitting that the new year kicks off with the opening of Alfie’s in Jumeirah Emirates Towers. The swish venue will be designed in keeping with Dunhill’s (as in ‘Alfie’ Dunhill, get it?) trademark aesthetics, so expect of plenty of leather and (we’re guessing) meat on the menu. It seems that 2012 will be Marco Pierre White’s year – the former Michelin-star chef-turned-restaurateur is making a double-pronged attack on Dubai. Wheeler’s (of St James’s London fame; is tentatively set to open in late January in DIFC, while ominously named restaurant Titanic will hopefully open in March.

Sports-wise, Italian Serie A giants AC Milan and Qatar-funded French side Paris Saint-Germain will be in Dubai to train during European football’s winter break. They’ll also play a friendly game at Rashid Stadium, home of Al Ahli Football Club on January 4.

If the purse strings are feeling tight after the party season, your opportunity to go deal-wild is Dubai Shopping Festival from January 5, offering bargains galore. DIFC will transform into a vibrant art hub on January 15 for Art Nights, an evening for like-minded artsy types to enjoy exhibitions, live art, music and food in a creative environment. If you’re never far from a good party and need to inject some sand – and sweat – friendly options into your wardrobe, then you’ll want to be front, line and centre when Nasimi Boutique opens at Atlantis on January 19, selling beach-chic options for him and her. Turkish hotel chain Rixos makes its debut in the Middle East with the opening of Rixos the Palm this month, which will house 234 rooms, 33 apartments and bring new restaurants and bars to the development. Elsewhere on the Palm, let your hair down at Dubai’s new MusicHall nightclub, landing straight from Beirut early this year (hopefully by the end of January) to host 10 diverse musical performers every evening.

Feeling the weight of that festive flab? Hopefully not, because you should have been training for the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on January 27, which starts and finishes in Downtown Dubai.

Hot-foot it to your nearest H&M store – come February 2, you’ll able to get your hands on a piece of David Beckham. Well, almost: his new David Beckham Bodywear line for H&M, that is. Food-wise, we’re always chuntering on about home-grown restaurants here in Dubai and it seems as though our wish is coming true: Roberto Rella (operations manager of BiCE Middle East for the past 15 years), is set to open Roberto’s in DIFC come February. Expect Italian treats aplenty.

The month’s music kicks off with the return of hip-hop pioneers Arrested Development, playing at Chi on February 2 with support from Brit ska revivalists The Beat. We expect a different crowd to turn out for Brit indie quartet Kasabian, who bring their stadium-filling sound to The Sevens on February 10. Meanwhile, February 16-24 will see the 10th Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival, with headliners including James Morrison, Jules Holland and James Blunt playing across two weekends, plus smaller Jazz Garden gigs on the week nights between them. For the first time in Dubai, Brit performance crew 1927 Theatre Company (who have just performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival) will put on a dark but laugh-inducing production of The Animals and Children Took To the Streets at Ductac, Mall of the Emirates on February 23 to 25.

Spending a relaxing weekend in sleepy Fujairah will never be the same again when the Fujairah Mall opens early this year, housing go-to stores such as Aldo, Splash, H&M and New Look. Sports-wise, get ready for the annual Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which kicks off on February 20 and runs until March 3. The line-up and schedule are yet to be announced, so keep your eyes on the website ( for news and updates. And finally, we’ve had word of another new club opening early next year on The World (remember that?), with an as-yet-unnamed club on Lebanon island set to bring a taste of nightlife to the long-awaited development.

By Time Out Dubai staff
Time Out Dubai,

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