What were the best things that happened in 2008? We've chosen our pick of the best, do you agree?
Full moon fever This year, whatever it was – yoga, drumming, meditation, you name it – if it could be done by the light of the moon, it was done by the light of the moon. If Time Out had doubted the power of this trend, we were convinced when we joined a hundreds or so others at the Madinat’s private in April for a spot of moonlight stretching courtesy of the hotel’s Talise Spa. This event, repeated in October, was for those who wanted their (full) moon on a stick. No simple rubber mats here – think blanketed sand, crystal-infused water and yoga instruction to the accompaniment of three-score guitarists and a couple of dozen drummers (of course). A little less chi chi, but just as much fun are Dubai Drums’ desert sessions (www.dubaidrums.com). Here you get barbecue with your bongo and – despite having to drive into the desert to find it – a real sense of community. We’ll definitely be back for more.
Biggest on stage
High School Musical Who knew that a Disney franchise would cause quite such a stir on its Dubai debut? OK, so this Disney franchise is the biggest one to come out of the company since Mickey Mouse first mooned over Minnie, but still – on-stage adaptations of big-screen tween-flicks are not necessarily an automatic sell. But a rigorous casting process (for which one of our very own Time Out journos went undercover and was eventually expelled from) and a no-holds-barred theatrical bootcamp produced the highlight of Dubai’s dramatic year – not just one sold-out run at Ductac’s Centrepoint Theatre, but two. That’s right, this was one High School Musical that proved so popular when it debuted in August that it was called back for a second run in November. As our reviewer at the time noted – Dubai’s got serious talent.
Dubai Ice Rink & Aquarium Dubai has never been backwards about coming forwards when it comes to grandiose schemes, and 2008 proved no exception. The city’s two biggest openings – the Atlantis Hotel and The Dubai Mall upped the ante on what has long been one of our seaside emirate’s motifs: the aquarium. With what is officially the world’s largest acrylic viewing window, Dubai Aquarium just edges it over Atlantis’s in terms of record breaking, although we personally prefer the Lost World theme-parking, of the latter, with its submerged streets and treasure chests. What wasn’t so good was the fishy scandals surrounding both openings, with shark-based cannibalism reported over at The Dubai Mall and Atlantis’s not-so-secret shame (the news story went around the world) – resident whale shark Sammy’s plucking from the great ocean and into Atlantis’s tank. Thankfully the other expansive opening of the year came controversy-free. The Dubai Mall’s ice rink is nothing more or less than a two-hour session of full, Olympic-sized fun.
Atlantis opening Yes, it’s that hotel again. The Palm hotel’s extravagant November knees-up came complete with Kylie and the most expensive, extravagant fireworks the world (and possibly the odd orbiting Martian) has ever seen. It was the number-one international search on Yahoo the following day. Need we say more?