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.

What ho! The Polo Gold Cup final ( takes place on March 9 – as Dubai’s flagship polo event, it’s a great excuse to get dressed up to the nines and quaff plenty of bubbly. We’re also rather partial to British Polo Day ( on March 18, which is a less raucous affair. We love cool British restaurant Rivington Grill (, yet will a second venue only dilute the novelty of the first? Only time will tell, but if the opening of the Madinat Jumeirah branch this month brings us the same quality as the Souk Al Bahar original, we’re not complaining. There’s no sinking feeling about this Titanic – Marco Pierre White’s second restaurant of 2012 will open at the new Melia hotel in Bur Dubai (, a Spanish chain that will also bring us Signature by Indian Michelin-star chef Sanjeev Kapoor.

Bookworms won’t want to miss the author workshops and seminars at the Emirates airline festival of literature, running from March 6-10. Attending authors include One Day’s David Nicholls. Meanwhile, Northern Irish quintet Snow Patrol, who rose to prominence following their 2004 album Final Straw and 2006 hit ‘Chasing Cars’, will headline the next Sandance event at Nasimi on March 9, alongside Scottish DJ and singer-songwriter Calvin Harris.

Returning for its 20th year, the Dubai International Boat Show at Dubai International Marine Club on March 13-17 expects to host its biggest number of exhibitors yet – a whopping 750 – and will be expanding its land exhibition space by 30 per cent. It was estimated there were Dhs1 billion in sales as a result of last year’s show.

Get your gloves at the ready for white-collar boxing, as Fight Night VIII takes place on Friday March 23. Competitors will have undergone eight to nine weeks of intensive training, and will take part in three two-minute rounds in front of an estimated crowd of 700. Fighting not your thing? Boasting 74 galleries from more than 30 countries, this year’s Art Dubai (March 21-24) at the Madinat is sure to stir Dubai’s art scene with big-name galleries coming from London, Paris, New York, Milan and Beijing.

One of the top sporting events on the city’s calendar, Dubai World Cup returns on March 31, featuring local, regional and international jockeys battling it out for the trophy at Meydan. Expect big-name entertainers to close the World Cup Carnival with a night of live music.

Can’t justify buying designer? Luxe Italian brand Marni has teamed up with H&M to produce an affordable ready-to-wear range that will be available in Dubai this month.

Musicians in the know have already started murmuring rumours about WOMAD – in previous years, the music festival has brought artists as diverse as Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant (pictured) and Malian desert blues troupe Tinariwen to Abu Dhabi and Al Ain in early April.

The rather ambitious Mall of Arabia project has been postponed until 2012, so we’re hopeful that the complex, pitted as a ‘global shopping resort’, will open its doors to a consumer paradise early this year. Meanwhile, the new-look Dubai Fashion Week for autumn/winter 2012 looks to be an exciting affair thanks to new Aussie creative director Simon Lock, and there’s talk that this year it may be more accessible to the public.

While nothing formal has been announced, we’ve been told on good authority to expect a visit from riot-hungry British rock band The Kaiser Chiefs in April, with talk of a beach gig and big support acts.

On May 18, locally-based charity Gulf 4 Good is heading off on its Wild Wall Challenge, during which a group of 25 adventure-seekers will hike some of the toughest sections of China’s Great Wall to raise funds for Chinese charities. For information, see or call 04 368 0222. If you’d rather sit at home than trek one of the wonders of the world (at least you’re honest!), head to the cinema instead: 10 years after its predecessor, a third instalment of sci-fi comedy flick Men In Black is set to hit UAE’s screens on May 24, reuniting Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones – this time in 3D (naturally). June
Won last year by Englishman Clark Francis, founder of Clark Francis Tennis Academy, the annual Dubai Duty Free Golf Cup will tee off on June 1 at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, promising plenty of action as representatives of Dubai’s duty-free industry take to the fairways. Escape the hot oven that is Dubai and venture indoors for Dubai Summer Surprises, where you can let your wallet loose on the city-wide sales happening across Dubai’s many malls from June 22 to July 31. Football fans can also rejoice in June: UEFA Euro 2012 ( kicks off on June 8 in Poland and Ukraine. Finally, we can’t reveal our sources, but an appearance by Madonna at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island could prove to be the UAE’s biggest gig of the year.

Already tipped to be the summer’s biggest movie blockbuster, The Amazing Spider-Man lands in cinemas on July 5 – in 3D. Directed by Marc Webb, it features a teenage Peter Parker grappling with living a human life while possessing a superpower. Meanwhile, Ramadan, the Holy Month of Islamic fasting, is predicted to start around July 20. Ramadan is a time for family, quiet contemplation and prayer during the day and iftar feasts during the evening. Generally speaking, Dubai’s hotels go to town with their iftar buffets, putting on lavish spreads of Middle Eastern favourites (you won’t go far without stumbling over a mixed grill), as well as more colourful international offerings.

It’s hot. It’s difficult to get lunch. Let’s face it, there are better times to be in Dubai than August. So why not head overseas? Travel to Scotland to the Edinburgh International FestivaL ( and edinburgh Festival Fringe ( for a month-long celebration of theatre, performing arts, film, comedy and art – not forgetting the electric atmosphere. Return flights to Edinburgh with Emirates ( start at Dhs5,000.

Alternatively, you can still catch the last 12 days of the London Olympics. The track and field events begin on August 3, meaning there’s still plenty of action to see – from the men’s 100m final on August 5 or the relay finals on August 10 to the closing ceremony on August 12. UAE residents can buy tickets and packages through MMI ( Return flights to London with Emirates ( start at approximately Dhs3,660. Finally, the end of Ramadan, and the Eid al-Fitr holiday, is expected to fall on August 19, so start making your holiday plans now.

As the climate cools and nightlife events start to move outside again, this is also when many bigger bands kick off their post-festival tours, so we’re expecting autumn’s first Sandance to be among the best yet. The Atlantis beach party has already attracted the likes of Richard Ashcroft, The Script, Armand Van Helden and Groove Armada during its previous four incarnations, with Above & Beyond and Basement Jaxx set to fly in for the fifth NYE bash as we went to press.


October 1 marks Time Out Dubai’s 11th birthday, so expect plenty of celebrations (keep your eye on the magazine for news of what we have planned). With Tom Cruise’s Burj-scaling turn in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol stealing movie headlines in 2011, perhaps the most anticipated movie of 2012 is new James Bond flick Skyfall. In cinemas from October 26, Daniel Craig’s third turn as Bond is set to kick off a new plot thread with Javier Bardem as the baddie.

Elsewhere, Gulf Bike Week has been moved to October 18-20 (no, we know it’s not a week long) – in the past, the fest has brought out acts including Amy Winehouse and Deep Purple for the accompanying concerts. Finally, after a summer spent mostly indoors, check out the threads gracing Dubai Fashion Week spring/summer 2013 to see how you can reclaim the city in style.

Film buffs will already be eagerly awaiting the ninth Dubai International Film Festival, which in 2011 hosted more than 170 films from across the globe, and in the past has attracted celebrities including Morgan Freeman, Colin Firth and, yes, Tom Cruise. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi dance music party Creamfields extended into a second day this year – could we get a festival to rival the UK original with three full days in 2012? After the incredible double billing of dance giants Tiësto and Deamau5 this year, anything seems possible.

Enjoyed the year? Good. Because the world is going to end. Well, if you believe the Mayans, it will – they think we’re in for a spot of bother on December 21 (21.12.2012 – spooky).

Can England make it three in a row at the 2012 Dubai Rugby Sevens ( Can the costumes get any more outrageous? Will we remember it? We doubt it. Finally, with 2011’s edition of the Dubai World championship golf tournament having only just reached its conclusion as we write (with a win by Spain’s Quiros Alvaro), many will have had their appetites whet and now be looking forward to the 2012 edition. Here’s to a fantastic year.

Dubai goes green
Amid the boom of brand new hotels and skyscrapers, rumour has it that Dubai will introduce some eco-friendly initiatives in 2012…

Organic produce home delivery
Foodies who despise veggies on steroids will have the chance to get fresh organic produce delivered to their doorstep starting from January 2012. Local health heavies Ripe ME, ( will introduce a home delivery service to Dubai residents, offering local, seasonal and organic produce that has been picked from the vine within 48 hours of receiving the order. Fresh!

Solar power
Next time you drive past the glow of a floodlit Dubai park, you could be witnessing sustainable energy at its best. Dubai Municipality began implementing solar-powered lighting across the city’s parks in late 2011 and, if all goes according to plan, it will continue the roll-out into the new year. The is goal that all parks in the city will soon be switched to solar power.

Cycling tracks
This exciting (and long overdue) project aims to decrease traffic and pollution and prevent obesity and heart disease by introducing 900km of bicycle lanes across the city by 2020. It remains to be seen whether the project will get off the ground in 2012, but with the construction of a 12km section of cycle track already completed on Jumeirah Road, we’ll keep our spandex at the ready.