15 ways to make sure you have the best weekend ever
Time Out staff
On Thursday November 28, the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens returns for the 44th time, marking the second round of the nine-leg HSBC Sevens World Series. In Dubai, the event is one of the biggest weekends on the calendar, with thousands turning out for three days of sporting action, live music, revelry and many, many silly outfits. To help you get into the spirit and ensure you don’t miss out on a thing, read on for our essential guide
Go VIP Yes, the stands are where the real atmosphere is, but will you get breakfast up there? Sadly not. Corporate hospitality packages at the event are available on both Friday and Saturday for those who want to watch the action in VIP style, with each table hosting up to ten guests. The package per table includes breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, plus five free drinks vouchers per person per day, ten seats in the VIP stand for Friday and Saturday, ten souvenir programmes and five VIP parking passes per day. All this doesn’t come cheap, of course, at Dhs33,000 for a table for ten for both Friday and Saturday.
Travel in style If you’ve gone to all the effort of dressing up and booking VIP hospitality, why slum it (relatively speaking, of course) in a cab? There are dozens upon dozens of private limousine services in Dubai, including Dubai Exotic Limo, which claims to operate the city’s only pink stretch Hummer limo, with a capacity for up to 18 passengers. Not quite up your street? The company also claims to offer the only 2012 Dodge Charger super stretch limo in the Middle East, seating up to ten passengers. From Dhs400 per hour, www.limosindubai.com (800 5466).
Don’t just go on Friday Thursday 28 is the first day of the event, and this year the opening will feature its fullest programme to date. A programme of IRB Women’s Sevens World Series games and the start of the biggest Invitation Tournament ever (more than 3,000 players from 213 teams will take part) are set to make it the busiest in the event’s history. Unlike Friday and Saturday, entry to watch all the matches on Thursday is entirely free. The Invitation Tournament features players who are involved simply for the fun of it all, as well as former internationals – some of the big names this year include World Cup winners Jason Robinson of England and South Africa’s Bobby Skinstad.
Be a volunteer The Sevens is a huge event and as such the organisers are always looking for individuals to volunteer to help out during the tournaments. There are a range of different roles that need to be filled, including team liaison officers, runners, as well as general administration support, pitch marshals, referees (for qualified referees only) and on-pitch registration. To apply, visit www.thesevens.ae and fill in the volunteer registration form.
Know where to sit There are a total of four stands surrounding the main pitch – Air BP family stand (West), Emirates hospitality stand (North), DHL stand (East) and the Airbus grandstand (South). Typically, the DHL stand is one of the two most lively (alongside the Airbus) and gets the most sun throughout the day, so make sure you’re wearing lightweight clothing (or fancy dress) if you plan to sit here.
Fancy dress If you’re not dressed up at the Dubai Rugby Sevens, expect to find yourself in the minority. The city’s residents go all-out with their costumes, meaning the view within the stand is often just as impressive as what’s happening on the pitch. Some of our favourite costumes from the past few years include a gaggle of Whoopee cushions, a trio of Dame Ednas and the entire cast of the Mr Men and Little Miss book series. If Halloween costume demands from last month were anything to go by, we’re expecting to see lots of characters from popular TV series Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, and at least one army of bright yellow minions from animated movie Despicable Me. If you haven’t got time to make or order your own costume, Mr Ben’s Costume Closet in Satwa (04 346 3493) offers a wide range of outfits for rent or sale, while Day to Day Discount Centre in Deira (04 228 4843) sells a variety of wigs.
Keep an eye out for the freebies We’re assured by the organisers that there will be lots of giveaways this year from the event’s sponsors, ranging from rugby balls to T-shirts, hats to giant foam hands (à la Miley Cyrus, though we don’t encourage you to stage your own version of the toe-curling VMAs set).
Take part in the big competitions ‘Ahead of the event, there’s a radio competition on Dubai 92 called “Kick it to win it”, where you can ultimately win tickets to next year’s Glasgow Sevens,’ explains Donal Kilalea, Commercial and Operations Director of the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens. ‘You win the opportunity to take part in the final at The Sevens in Dubai and the winner is then Glasgow-bound.’ Yet more competitions at the event include the annual favourites, such as prizes for the best fancy dress and the crowd-surfing ball, where entire stands compete against one another to see which stand can pass the big inflatable ball from one end to the other the quickest.
Catch the most exciting men’s team Sixteen teams will compete in this year’s men’s tournament: Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Fiji, France, Kenya, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Samoa, Scotland, Spain, South Africa, the USA and Wales. While Samoa are the reigning Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens champions, having won for the first time last year, HSBC Sevens World Series champions New Zealand are still the team to beat, having won the opening round of the season in a game against Australia. Despite having not won a title in Dubai since 2009, things are looking good for the team, who face-off against Kenya, Portugal and France in pool A on Friday 29 and Saturday 30.
...and don’t miss the women’s Twelve teams will compete in the first round of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series: Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, France, Fiji, Ireland, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Tunisia and the USA. The women’s event will take place on Thursday 28 and Friday 29, and the Series champions New Zealand will be looking to bag another victory. As the site of the first Rugby World Cup Sevens for women in 2009, Dubai has a special place on the tour.
Watch the cheerleaders The energetic performances put on by the Aggreko Dynamo cheerleaders is one of the smaller highlights of the rugby weekend, and over the years have spawned a raft of comedy imitators in the crowd. While some of this year’s team are returning to the event for up to the ninth time, for others it will be their debut here in Dubai.
Explore the Rugby Village Throughout the entire weekend, the Rugby Village is the place to stay refreshed and entertained between matches. A huge range of food and beverage outlets will be serving up grub to cater to ‘all tastes and diets’, including fish and chips and vegetarian and healthy options for grown-ups and kids. Drinks stands will be selling a variety of beverages, with prices set to be the same as last year. There will also be a circus school, activities in the HSBC World of Sport and much more for the kids to try out. If you’re an adult who just can’t resist the kids’ face painting stand, you will not be judged here.
Take the kids to the crèche There’s a designated family entrance to the event, and an entire Air BP stand with 2,000 seats designated for mums, dads and kids. Between each match, entertainment is provided to keep young ones entertained. This year, the main children’s play area is bigger than ever, with bouncy castles, face painting and much more. To keep really young kids occupied while mum and dad explore the Rugby Village, a mobile crèche operated by Creche Out, will offer a safe, exciting place to play, priced at Dhs50 for the first hour, and Dhs35 per hour thereafter.
Stick around for the music Friday and Saturday nights see revellers linger for live entertainment under the Rugby Rock banner, held on stage in the Rugby Village. This year sees CVE from New Zealand and Salha and The Million Dollar Band both back on stage ‘by popular demand’, according to Kilalea. Entry to the gigs is entirely free for Sevens ticketholders.
Plan your departure As always, there will be a free bus service running from 6pm on all three nights of the Sevens, with the last buses departing at midnight. Dubai Media City and Dubai Festival City will be the two family drop-off points, while there will be further buses ferrying party animals to Barasti and Bidi Bondi to continue the revelry. Though there will also be a taxi rank at the event, queues are notoriously long and slow-moving, which means you’re better off sticking to the buses or arranging alternative, private transport. If you have a designated driver among your group, free parking is available at the event. Thursday November 28, free entry; Friday 29 and Saturday 30, Dhs250 per day; season pass (Fri-Sat) Dhs400. Gates open 7.30am. The Sevens Stadium, Dubai to Al Ain Road (E66),