It goes without saying that the forthcoming nuptials between a prematurely balding aristocrat and a well-spoken girl from Berkshire have caused a stir. Admittedly, said aristocrat is the future King of England and the posh girl from Berkshire is his bride-to-be, but it’s not just the Brits getting excited about the royal wedding (they do get a public holiday in the UK, after all). A global audience of two billion viewers is expected to tune in for William and Kate’s nuptials on April 29 – that’s almost a quarter of the world’s population.
So it should come as no surprise that hotels, restaurants and bars across Dubai are pulling out the stops for the royal wedding, organising all manner of lavish parties, special screenings and meal deals to mark the occasion. Other than Dubai’s sizeable British expat population, American Sarah Omolewu, who has been spearheading Raffles’ royal wedding celebrations, believes that Wills and Kate’s marriage is such a big deal here simply because it’s a lot of fun – an event that combines celebrity with fashion. ‘I was speaking to local Emirati woman recently, who says she remembers where she was when Charles and Diana got married. This is the same,’ says Sarah. ‘I think it also appeals [to women] because Kate could have been any one of us – and she’s now marrying a prince.’
Those of us indifferent to becoming a princess can enjoy the wedding for what it is – a great excuse for a party. And since the wedding is taking place on a Friday, Dubai-based royalists can partake in the plentiful parties being held around town. Time Out takes a look at some of the best.
Best for: a British ballyhoo
Royal Raffles Roast: In celebration of the royal wedding, Raffles Dubai will be transformed into a traditional British street party: think bunting, themed table coverings, juicy servings of roast beef and prizes for the best-dressed guests. Festivities will take place across all the Raffles venues – Azur, Crossroads Cocktail Bar and Raffles Botanical Gardens – and there’ll be a special five-tier wedding cake for guests to sample.
Dhs300 (soft drinks); Dhs450 (selected house beverages). 11am onwards. Raffles Dubai, Oud Metha, firstname.lastname@example.org (04 324 8888).
Best for: more mature monarchists
A Very Royal Affair at Courtyard by Marriott: Anglophiles can celebrate the ceremony in style with the most quintessential of English experiences. Guests can enjoy pastries, scones and finger sandwiches served in the ballroom, accompanied by a glass of sparkling grape, as they watch the live broadcast of the royal wedding on screens streaming the happy occasion throughout the day.
Dhs85. 2pm onwards. The Ballroom, Courtyard by Marriott, Dubai Green Community email@example.com, www.marriottdiningatcy.ae (04 885 2222).
Best for: a refined royal wedding experience
Regal High Tea at Hilton Dubai Jumeirah: Watch the celebrations on the big screen in Axis Lobby Lounge. Tea options include The Queen’s Traditional Afternoon Tea (cucumber, sandwiches, butter scones with fresh home-made jams); Princess Bea’s Chocolate AfternoonTea (chocolate-chip scones and chocolate cake); Royal Corgis Afternoon Treats (chicken drummers, vegetable samosas, dips ’n’ chips); and The Prince Harry (chunky sandwiches, a slab of cake and a pint).
From Dhs75. Noon onwards. Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, The Walk at JBR (04 399 1111).
Best for: a raucous affair
Barasti's Great British Royal Beach Party: Enjoy a knees-up on the beach. Barasti will be screening the royal wedding on a huge LED screen, and celebrations start at 11am with classic British food and drinks, party games, flags and more.
Free entry. 11am-3am. Barasti, Le Méridien Mina Seyahi (04 399 3333).
Best for: a feast fit for a king
Great British lunch at Seafire: Kick off wedding celebrations in regal style with Seafire’s British lunch. Guests can watch the ceremony while feasting on traditional Brit offerings, such as ploughman’s platters, smoked salmon or potted shrimp. Then there’s roast beef, roast potatoes, glazed root vegetables and Yorkshire pudding, or hearty lamb shank with mint jus. Enjoy a sweet ending with the selection of typical English desserts, ranging from sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream, Eton Mess (meringue with strawberry compote) or treacle tart with clotted cream. Yummy.
Dhs195 per person. Noon-5pm. Seafire, Atlantis, The Palm Jumeirah (04 426 0000).
Best for: hearty British fare
Royal Spread at Harvester’s: In celebration of Kate and William’s marriage, Harvester’s is putting on a huge royal spread: a classic British menu featuring steak and kidney pie, cucumber sandwiches, strawberries and cream, and plenty of traditional English summertime drinks.
Free entry. All day. Harvester’s, Crowne Plaza Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Fnbrestaurants@cpdxb.com (800 276 963).
Best for: British pub celebrations
Sherlock Holmes bash: This promises to be a more raucous celebration than most. Featuring a menu Her Majesty would be proud of, there’ll be Brit classics such as pie and mash, apple crumble and plenty of deals on traditional British drinks. The wedding will be screened on the bar’s four flatscreen TVs and there’ll be prizes to be won on the day.
Free entry. Noon-5pm. Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa, Bur Dubai, www.arabiancourtyard.com (04 351 9111).
Best for: a rambunctious royal after-party
Dubai Reunited British Disco: Tickets for the polo match in the afternoon may be sold out, but there’s still a chance to celebrate by dancing to the best of British tunes at Dubai Polo Club from 6.30pm onwards. The DJ will be playing everything from the Beatles to The Clash and Take That to Oasis, and there will be a barbecue where royalist revellers can refuel in between tracks.
Dhs50 per person. 6.30pm onwards. Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, www.dubaireunited.com (04 361 8111).
Escape the hype!
This royal rigmarole might not be everyone’s cup of tea – but there’s plenty going on to keep socialists and republicans entertained. Time Out picks three of the best wedding alternatives.
Dr Brown: Because As different to the royal wedding as you could possibly get: internationally renowned visual comedy absurdist Dr Brown comes to Dubai with his twisted, gawky brand of anti-comedy. Expect twitches, stares and physical stamina in the style of Mr Bean.
Dhs100. 7pm, 9pm. Ductac, Mall of the Emirates (050 115 3828). www.timeouttickets.com
Mundy: This Irish music sensation hits McGettigan’s on April 29 to treat fans to his greatest hits (he’s sold more than 11 million albums in his time).
Dhs120. 8pm. McGettigan’s, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 356 0600).
Sun, Sand and Serenity: Escape the wedding hype and treat yourself like royalty with a spa experience at Bab Al Shams. The package includes a body exfoliation, an aromatherapy facial cleanse and massage and a Balinese massage. You’ll then get to use the spa, steam room and sauna, as well as the hotel pool.
Dhs750 for 90-minute treatment and pool access). Bab Al Shams Desert Resort, near Endurance City, an hour from Dubai (04 809 6232).
Watch it at home!
OSN and Discovery Channel are screening a Royal Wedding Week from April 25-29, with a series of original programmes on the marriage and fanfare that surrounds it.