The most famous faces spotted in the emirates throughout 2013
It’s no secret that the UAE is a popular travel destination of the rich and famous – and it’s not hard to see why. With amazing weather, peerless hospitality and world-renowned music, sports and cultural events clicking round the calendar like clockwork, it’s little surprise the emirates attract celebrities from all walks of life on a weekly basis.
Whether it’s a reality TV star lazing on golden beaches, an international sports star competing for top draw prize money, an acclaimed actor strolling the red carpet at the UAE’s film festivals, or a global pop star strutting stages in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, we’re never short of household names mingling in our midst. And while these famous folk are often in town for a professional engagement, that doesn’t mean they don’t have time to soak up city scenes and nightlife options while they’re here – which is why most UAE residents have found themselves rubbing shoulders with a familiar face at one point or another.
Looking back over the list of notable names to visit the UAE in 2013 we couldn’t quite believe our eyes – so here we’ve pulled together the most surprising celebrity sightings and most memorable visitors of the past 12 months. Click forward and take a walk down memory lane with us. Compiled by Rob Garratt
January 1. Snoop Lion (née Dogg) spent the first hours of 2013 on stage in Dubai, headlining the calamity-struck Atelier / Festival NYE edition at Meydan, on a bill alongside Faithless alumni Sister Bliss. Meanwhile Roberto Cavalli and Flo Rida were at Cavalli Club on New Year’s Eve 2012/13.
2. Early in the year Halle Berry was seen dining at Tagine at the One&Only Royal Mirage.
3.Irish world number one golfer Rory McIlroy was seen drowning his sorrows at The Underground Pub at The Habtoor Grand, after disappointing down the road at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Tiger Woods also played the UAE tournament (equally disappointingly).
4. Brit rapper Jay Sean was seen living it up at People by Crystal. He must have had fun – he was back performing at the same venue in July, while in October he was spotted smoking shisha with friends at the IKandy Ultra Lounge at the Shangri-La Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road.
5. TOWIE stars Billi Mucklow and Cara Kilbey hanging out at XL Beach Club, the first of many 2013 sightings of the show’s ‘stars’. These include Joey Essex and Sam Faiers, who in February were seen frolicking on the beach at Mina A’Salam.
6. Rock fans had a good start to the year with Slash bringing the riffs to Dubai Tennis Stadium, later spotted munching a burger at Hard Rock Cafe (!).
7. Footie legend Diego Maradona was spotted watching the Dubai Tennis Championships and posing for photos with fans at Dubai Tennis Stadium. Later on, he also rocked a dodgy white hat at 411 Saturdays at People by Crystal.
8. The biggest rapper in the world (after a certain man beginning with J...), Kanye West brought all his rhymes and spectacle to Abu Dhabi’s Yas.
February 9. Swiss tennis star Roger Federer, was seen looking suave near The Torch building in Dubai Marina. He was also spotted later in the year dining at Zheng He’s in Madinat Jumeirah.
10. Retired US professional skateboarder Tony Hawk was seen admiring the view from the Burj Al Arab and trying his hand at sandboarding in the desert. In May he was back, snowboarding at Ski Dubai and going on another desert safari with Arabian Adventures.
11. The Script met fans before stealing the show at the 11th edition of the Dubai Jazz Festival, which also brought over 3 Doors Down, Deep Purple and OneRepublic as part of a rock-heavy bill.
12. British chef Gary Rhodes was seen enjoying Kenny Wizz’s Michael Jackson tribute show.
13. Former England football manager Sven Goran Ericsson spotted in Wagamamas at JBR. In March he was also spotted enjoying a dinner meeting at Meydan Beach.
14. The (reformed) Stone Roses turned some faces by descending on Dubai Media City for a gig – while Liam Gallagher turned even more heads by turning up at said gig. The Oasis and Beady Eye frontman later went on for a raucous night out at Mahiki (madferit!).
15. Brit TV host Chris Tarrant playing cricket alongside legendary film critic Barry Norman, as part of the annual The Lord's Taverners charity match in Dubai.
March 16. Novelist and disgraced politician Jeffery Archer spoke at Emirates Airline Literature Festival, in Dubai Festival City. The 2013 edition of the festival also attracted names including poet Simon Armitage, crime popularist Ian Rankin and chef Ken Hom.
17. There were stars for all at this year’s Du World Music Festival, with US pop trio Train, Nat King’s daughter Natalie Cole, classic Filipino rockers Eraserheads and Egyptian superstar Amr Diab among the highlights of the weeklong event. Diab also played the F1 in Abu Dhabi in November.
18. Reportedly the second richest DJ in the world (after Calvin Harris), Tiesto brought the beats to the launch of Sunburn festival in Dubai, at WTC.
19. The one and only Sting brought his peerless back catalogue to Yas Island’s du Arena.
20. Tennis champ Novak Djokovic was seen visiting the Burj Al Arab, after seeing off competition from Roger Federer and winning the 2013 Dubai Tennis Championships. He was back in the emirates to win Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala World Tennis Championships in December, where he beat off competition from Andy Murray, David Ferrer and Rafael Nadal.
21. UK footballers Gary McAllister, Paul Walsh, Lee Sharpe, Andy Goram and Dave Beasant escaped the UK’s winter chill by playing a round of golf at the Jebel Ali Golf Course.
22. US music stars Lionel Richie and Keith Sweat were backstage at the My Music X festival. Held at Atlantis, the event was headlined by names including Cher Lloyd, Akon, Sean Paul, Judge Jules and Example, who was spotted earlier in the day chilling on the hotel’s beach.
23. British actor Jude Law was seen at the Blue Marlin Ibiza beach club in Ghantoot and having dinner at Zuma.
24. Noel Gallager was spotted lounging with the locals (and refusing requests for photos) on Atlantis’ beach, before a huge solo gig on their sands, with Verve man Richard Ashcroft on the bill. Boarding a flight home Gallagher was also seen chatting to British boxer and reality TV star David Haye.
25. UK Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson was seen in the first-class cabin of an Emirates flight to Sydney.
26. Bollywood superstar Mika Singh was spotted walking around the halls of Atlantis The Palm (looking slightly lost).
27. US singer and R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe was seen with friends at a Dubaian’s private party, after giving a talk at Art Dubai.
28. UK political spin king Alistair Campbell gave a private talk about addiction to an invited audience in Dubai.
29. R&B singer Akon was spotted all over Dubai in 2013. As well as performing at My Music X, he was caught partying at Cavalli Club and People by Crystal, and wearing a dodgy cowboy hat in Mall of the Emirates. He also cropped up back onstage in May and December (see later), and was spotted posing for pictures with fans baggage collection in Dubai Airport in July.
April 30. Metal monsters Metallica returned to rock Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, little more than 18 months after their last visit when they were caught sandboarding in the UAE desert.
31. Former US president Bill Clinton was seen milling about in the food court at the American University of Dubai in Media City.
32. A reformed addition of Madchester icons Happy Mondays, fronted by now-reality-TV star frontman Shaun Ryder, played Dubai Tennis Stadium.
33. British singer Seal was caught around The Dubai Mall, after a gig at the Dubai World Cup.
34. One of the most anticipated UAE gigs of the year by a country mile came from Bruno Mars at Dubai Media City. Hit-tastic.
35. French electronic music pioneer Jean Michel Jarre talking (and, bizzarely, United Nations ambassador for UNESCO) spoke at the Higher Colleges of Technology’s 25th anniversary Education Without Borders event hosted at Rixos The Palm.
36. Former F1 racing driver Michael Schumacher and British boxer David Haye tested their fears at Skydive Dubai.
37. Singer Aston Merrygold, from British boy band JLS, got mobbed by fans at the Saffron brunch at Atlantis The Palm.
38. F1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber dined together in Dubai, along with British driver Jenson Button at The Address Dubai Marina. In July Alonso was also seen in Mall of the Emirates checking out a pair of shades, while in October Button was seen digging into a steak at Ruth’s Chris Steak House back in Dubai Marina.
39. Canadian glamour model Sunny Leone and Indian actor John Abraham were seen at Ibn Battuta Mall. In June Sunny was also spotted shopping at Dubai Mall and partying at Cavalli Club.
40. Susan Sarandon formally launched her ping pong themed nightspot SPiN Dubai, in Wafi. The Hollywood legend star and her partner Jonathan Bricklin were also spotted enjoying afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab. Desperate Housewife star Jesse Metcalfe was also at the launch, staying in Dubai a week and making ‘surprise’ appearances at two Dubai nightspots.
41. The (apparently now retired) Justin Bieber was seen strolling along the beach near Burj Al Arab, and later at People by Crystal, following his huge two night stand at The Sevens Stadium. Now seemingly a celebrity in his own right, Bieber’s bodyguard Kenny Hamilton was seen at the Faldo course at Emirates Golf Club, and shopping at luxury watch boutique IWC Schaffhausen in The Dubai Mall, where he caused a mob of fans to descend on the mall.
42. Japanese master chef (and Robert De Niro mate) Nobu Matsuhisa was in town to promote his Atlantis The Palm eatery.
43. ‘The biggest DJ in the world’ David Guetta gave a massive set at Atlantis, fresh from launching a new range of headphones in the city, with Akon (!) cropping up as a surprise stage guest.
44. For the first full Sandance of 2013 Dubai went a little bit mental for Florence Welch and her overwhelming Machine, with Keane also on the bill. It’s reported Florence was seen distressed on the flight over.
45. A surprisingly relaxed Mel Gibson was seen enjoying dinner and drinks with friends at slick Japanese hangout Zuma in DIFC, and admiring the view from the Burj Khalifa.
46. Filipino actress, model, singer and host of The X Factor Philippines KC Concepcion was seen all over Dubai at Al Qasr hotel, The Dubai Mall and Wild Wadi.
June 47. UK footballing legends Alan Shearer and Peter Crouch were caught living it up in Mahiki. Meanwhile Crouch’s wife, glamour model Abbey Clancy, was seen relaxing by the pool at Le Meridien Dubai. Also in June extraverted former Premiership footballer Djibril Cissé (now at Liga 1’s SC Bastia) was seen doing a spot of shopping at Dubai Mall.
48. Rap star Busta Rhymes performed an intimate (and short) set at VIP Room.
49. Scary Movie stars The Wayans Bros – Shawn and Marlon – performed stand up at Dubai World Trade Centre.
50. 80s action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme was at the launch of Studio F in Emirates Towers.
51. British glamour model, reality TV star, disgraced Miss England and former WAG Danielle O’Hara (née Lloyd) drew attention for sunbathing at Le Royal Méridien Resort & Spa Dubai
52. The ‘world’s best paid comedian’ Michael McIntyre performed at Dubai World Trade Centre.
53. Boy George was hanging out at The H Hotel, despite the fact his scheduled DJ set at Okku was called off.
54. Manchester United footballer Robin van Persie enjoyed a night out at Cirque du Soir.
55. Guns n’ Roses guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal played live at an intimate gig with local rockers Point of View at The Fridge. Earlier in the year the whole band performed at incredible gig at Yas.
56. Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly paid a visit to Dubai Outlet Mall. Wow
57. Spanish footballer and Chelsea striker Fernando Torres was seen at Atlantis The Palm.
58. Famous Bollywood couple Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif went shopping for sportswear at The Dubai Mall.
59. British funnyman Simon Pegg was spotted at the transit lounge in Dubai International Airport before boarding a flight to Auckland, New Zealand.
60. We noticed British singer and songwriter Yusuf Islam – aka Cat Stevens – wandering around in Media City.
61. MJ’s sis Janet Jackon went shopping for abayas at Village Mall while her other half, Qatari business tycoon Wissam Al Mana, shopped at Dubai Mall.
62. Professional US basketball player Robert Horry was with friends in the Dubai desert and posing for photos on the sand dunes.
September 63. Brit musicians Olly Murs and Tinchy Stryder were both seen hanging out at Atlantis, The Palm and making new, finned friends at Dolphin Bay.
64. Self-help gurn and author Deepak Chopra chilled out on an Abra at Madinat Jumeirah, before giving talks in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
65. Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan hung out in a helicopter and posed with fans at Skydive Dubai in Dubai Marina. He was also spotted filming with co-star Deepika Padukonefi on the ice rink at Dubai Mall.
66. Hollywood actor and Scientologist John Travolta mingled with residents at the city’s 360° nightspot at Jumeirah Beach Hotel during his trip to promote Qantas.
67. US basketball legend Kobe Bryant – officially the fourth highest-scorer in NBA history – hosted a celebrity basketball game at the American University of Dubai, as well as an event promoting healthy eating to Abu Dhabi teenagers. Meanwhile Lil Jon played a gig in offer of the Black Mamba’s visit, the Official Kobe Bryant after party at People by Crystal. Huge US rapper Soulja Boy – one of Kobe’s celeb players – also played a gig at People a day later. What a weekend.
October 68. US pop star Selena Gomez was seen posing for pics at the Burj Khalifa with retired American wrestler Mick Foley, and later enjoying a meal with her family at The Cheesecake Factory in Mall of the Emirates. She was in town to perform at Dubai Music Week.
69. The best-selling artist in the UAE ever, US-Indian comic Russell Peters performed on Yas after breaking box office records in Dubai a year earlier.
70. Black Eyed Peas was Will.i.am was on the decks at Dubai World Trade Centre for Dubai Music Week. Meanwhile Timbaland also got up to spin, as well as leading production seminars alongside MJ mastermind producer Quincy Jones.
71. The UK’s Prince Harry was guest of honour at a fundraising dinner in Dubai in aid of his charity Sentebale, where he famously made botched attempts at addressing the assembled 300-strong audience in Arabic.
72. Brit comedian Al Murray was seen in a number of Dubai watering holes including McGettigan’s following a DWTC gig by his alter ego The Pub Landlord.
73. Rotund rapper Rick Ross played a storming set live at Emirates Golf Club.
74. Feisty British supermodel Naomi Campbell enjoyed the Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience at the Armani Hotel alongside fellow supermodel (and Dubai regular) Karolina Kurkova.
75. Superstar Rihanna caused a storm after posing outside an Abu Dhbai mosque, following a gig on Yas Island.
76. Beyoncé's sister Solange Knowles was seen taking photographs of the arrows on the floor at Dubai International Airport. Fair enough.
77. Donatella Versace was seen viewing the jewellery at the Versace store (!) at The Dubai Mall.
78. Drum n’ bass DJ pioneer, actor and former boyfriend of Bjork, Goldie was spotted yelling out of a car window on Sheikh Zayed Road and dining at Mango Tree, before dropping tunes at The Music Room.
79. Sandance celebrated its third anniversary with a hotly anticipated set by arena rockers The Killers – which was rumoured to be their last. Also on the celebratory bill were Iceland’s Of Monsters & Men and Bob Marley’s old band The Wailers, which still stars bassist Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett.
November 80. Rap superstar Jay Z was seen with his entourage enjoying Japanese food at high-end restaurant Zuma, ahead of his headline performance at the Formula 1 in Abu Dhabi. Brit prog rocker trio Muse also performed a smashing set at the Yasalam After Race Concerts, while last but not least Depeche Mode brought the curtain down on four days of gigs at the Yas Island races.
81. Elsewhere in the capital the likes of Nelly, Sean Kingston, Ludacris, Labrinth, Nelly and Akon all played club gigs around the F1 – proof this is the busiest weekend of the year.
82. Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was seen checking into the Grosvenor House ahead of his show in Dubai.
83. Huge Indian celeb chef Sanjeev Kapoor was in town to launch a new menu at one of his many restaurants.
84. Grumpy Brit comedy legend John Cleese performed a run of Evening with... shows at Madinat Theatre.
85. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke at Jumeirah Emirates Towers for the Arabian Business Achievement Awards. He hired the entire third floor of the venue during his stay.
86. Celebrity chef and restauranteur Marco Pierre White checked out the stock at Deira Fish Market. He also walked in on a Time Out video shoot (in his JW Marriot restaurant, admittedly).
87. Soul-pop star Alicia Keys performed a huge gig at Dubai Media City. Meanwhile on the same night on the Palm, Chic founding father Nile Rodgers performed a stunning set at the November edition of Sandance, with Jamiraqui and Rudimental wrapping up the bill.
88. Irish pop munchkins Jedward were in DXB terminal 3 sampling cosmetics and playing music on their phones for everyone to hear.
89. The X-Factor USA judge Kelly Rowland met fans in Mall of the Emirates.
90. Legendary Arsenal football striker Thierry Henry signed footballs for fans as part of his visit to the headquarters of his club’s sponsors Emirates airline.
91. Younger sister of Kim, Khloe Kardashian caused pandemonium during a visit to The Dubai Mall to promote lines in two stores.
December 92. Feisty rapper Lil’ Kim played at intimate gig at O1ne Yas Island in early December, while huge rap star 2Chainz performed at the same venue just two weeks later. It completed an impressive run of booking which began with Benny Benassi’s appearance at the official opening party in late November.
93. Cate Blanchett strolled the red carpet and judged the IWC Schaffhausen filmmaker award at DIFF, while elsewhere Rooney Mara and Mark Ruffallo were guests of honour at the Oxfam and Dubai Cares charity gala dinner at DIFF.
94. Meanwhile was seen Martin Sheen at St. Mary's Catholic Church, while in town to pick up a Lifetime Achievement Awards from DIFF.
95. And Bond woman Naomie Harris gave a moving speech before the ‘black carpet’ gala screening of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, on the day a memorial was held to the great president in South Africa. Bollywood stars including Priyanka Chopra, Irfann Khan, Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor were also in town promoting new movies at DIFF.
96. The richest DJ in the world, Calvin Harris headlined Creamfields, with UK dance forefathers also the Prodigy on the bill.
97. Notorious socialite Paris Hilton performed a DJ set at Cavalli Club. Not much competition for Harris there.
98. British thespian and star of Dead Ringers and Die Hard with a Vengeance Jeremy Irons was sighted enjoying a spot of dinner at the Rivington Bar & Grill following the fireworks at the Burj Al Arab.
99. UK model Kelly Brook was seen tucking into a camel milk mixer at the Burj Al Arab, ahead of an appearance at Mahiki’s second anniversary.
100. Serial tabloid fodder TV star Joey Essex, model Amy Willerton and former Westlife singer Kian Egan were seen ordering McDonald’s in Dubai Airport.
101.Emeli Sandé celebrated the turn of 2014 in Dubai after wrapping up her headline slot at the problem-blighted Sandance NYE, which also starred DJs Axwell, Paul Oakenfold and Pete Tong. Down the road at Atlantis the original Icemaker himself, Vanilla Ice, was on the mic at N’Dulge. Meanwhile on the other side of top ‘Like a G6’ hitmakers Far East Movement positively killed in on the mic at People by Crystal.
102.Jazzy Jeff’s NYE gig at Barasti reached fever pitch when his old sparring partner, the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith jumped onstage for an impromptu ‘Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It’ after midnight. The Hollywood star stuck around in the emirate long enough to jump from a plane from SkyDive Dubai, and party at dessert camps and super yachts with celeb mates Tyrese and Maxwell.