Abu Dhabi Summer Season guide

Scores of events and activities to keep you sane through the hotter months

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Abu Dhabi’s exciting Summer Season festival is so close, we can almost taste it. Hold on to your beach hats – TOAD’s got the exclusive preview.

What do can-can dancers, illusionists, night-vision goggles and water-pistol competitions have in common? They are all part of the emirate’s summer festival, that’s what.

Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) is spearheading Summer Season, a host of activities and performances that will run from June 5 to August 31. So if you thought summer was the time to escape the city, think again. Taking its successful past summer campaigns to a new level, the authority has teamed up with leading UAE event organisers such as Flash Entertainment and The Alchemy Project to deliver a programme packed with headline shows.

Sultan Al Dhaheri, acting executive director for TCA Abu Dhabi, says, ‘We launched a summer programme of events in 2009 under the name of Summer Fest and, every year since, the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) has hosted a programme of events. This year is different. We’ve rebranded as Summer Season as we’ve expanded the activities to include Al Ain and Al Gharbia, because we want everyone to be part of the festival.

‘With this programme, we are moving towards becoming a year-round destination; it is designed to appeal to all nationalities and ages to extend our seasonal appeal. The summer campaign will deliver an unforgettable season for stay-at-home residents and visitors, and activities will be spread across the emirate.’

Highlights include a night photography competition, cinema-size screens showing the Fifa World Cup and tents for iftars (the feast eaten after sunset following fasting) and suhoors (the pre-dawn feast). Meanwhile, an international ballet and a juggling and acrobatic show will be coming to town. Here are the dates, grab your diary!

Theatre

Cinderella was first staged as a ballet in 1945 at the Bolshoi Theatre, five years after the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev wrote the score. Thanks to The Alchemy Project collaborating with Anna Grogol-Alexidze, the artistic director and co-founder of Royal Moscow Ballet, this summer the fairytale will be performed in front of an Abu Dhabi audience for the first time. Led by Alexej Ostetrov, a principal conductor from Russia, guest stars Chinara Alizade and Alexander Smolianinov, both Bolshoi Ballet lead soloists, will perform with principal dancers Vadim Lolenko, Sergii Skvortsov, Liudmila Titova and Sokolenko Olga – all of whom have performed in Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Don Quixote and Romeo and Juliet. Stay awake until the clock strikes midnight and Cinderella expresses her love, because that’s when principal violinist Aleksandr Shcherbin will conduct a one-minute and 40-second solo. From Dhs199. Jun 6-7, 7pm-8.30pm and 9.30pm-11pm; Jun 8-10 and 12, 8.30pm-10pm; Jun 13-14, 7pm-8.30pm and 9.30pm-11pm; Jun 15-16, 8.30pm-10pm; dates subject to change. Tickets from www.tixbox.com Performance at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec), www.adnec.ae (02 444 6900).

Part band, part shadow and circus act, dance troupe Pilobolus Dance Theatre’s latest show Shadowland has already wowed half a million international theatre-goers – and now it’s coming to the emirate. Images will be projected on to multiple moving screens while performers dance in front of them, telling a comic drama about a young girl as she comes of age. The show has been created in collaboration with Steven Banks, the lead writer for the popular animated series SpongeBob SquarePants, and David Poe, an American musician, producer, and film composer who has produced an original score of ballads and rock numbers. Dhs199-Dhs1,699. Aug 8-18, times to be confirmed. Adnec, details above.

When surrealist Salvador Dali hand-painted a 9x15m backdrop depicting two cloaked, faceless figures, one with outstretched hands, for the 1944 ballet Tristan and Isolde at The Metropolitan Opera in New York City, he probably didn’t reckon it’d end up in Abu Dhabi. But that same backdrop will be displayed on stage in Daniele Finzi Pasca’s latest creation, La Verità (The Truth), written and directed by Finzi Pasca – the talent behind Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo. A cast of clowns, blindfolded characters and acrobats dressed in feathers and sequins will entertain with juggling and contortion acts, the can-can dance, instruments and singing while eerily deformed shadows, dismantled corpses and ladders suspended in empty space remind you this a theatrical homage to Salvador Dali’s life and work. From Dhs250-1,950. Aug 21-31, times to be confirmed. Adnec, details above.

Family

This summer, hire a set of night goggles – a world-first for a zoo – and as dusk falls you’ll see nocturnal animals come out to play at Al Ain Zoo. Fancy your chances of winning a night photography competition? Then bring your camera and capture night-time critters. You can also attend zookeeper talks under the cover of darkness, and watch crocodiles feeding. Every Wednesday is ‘zoovie night’, so bring a picnic and watch The Jungle Book, Lion King and Madagascar – then meet your favourite characters in real life. Now until Aug 31, 4pm-10pm, Ramadan 4pm-8pm, Eid 10pm-10pm. Al Ain Zoo, www.alainzoo.ae (03 799 2000).

The last time you played with a Super Soaker, you had a blast, right? So take part in Go Wet This Summer, a competition at Al Ain Sportplex Club. Donning comedy goggles and uniforms, you’ll be given a water gun to aim at targets. The player with the highest score will be awarded paintballing vouchers. At the same time for the same price you can take part in a paintball target competition from June 29 to July 28. Dhs50. Every Sat 10am-2pm Jun 5-20. Al Ain, near InterContinental, www.alainsportplex.ae (050 773 2818; 03 768 8888).

Kids aged five to 12 can swim, try martial arts and play tennis, badminton and table tennis at Mafraq Hotel’s summer camp. They can also try their hand at cooking and learn basic housekeeping skills. That’s right, parents: housekeeping skills. Price and times to be confirmed. Jun 15-Aug 15. Baniyas, www.mafraq-hotel.com (02 659 6666).

Bask in air con at the Summer Consumer Fair 2014 inside the Al Ain Convention Centre as you shop for goods from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and far-flung countries such as China, India and Turkey. Look out for French and Arabic perfume stalls, beauty products, clothes and children’s toys. Kids will be entertained with free face painting and cartoon characters. Now until Jun 13, daily 10am-1pm and 5pm-11pm. Al Khabisi Hall 2, Al Ain, www.adnec.ae (03 763 7686).

Kids will drop the TV remote the second you tell them about this summer camp. Aimed at five- to 12-year-olds, children can learn watersports and painting, cooking and filming. Members Dhs150 daily, Dhs650 weekly; non members Dhs165 daily, weekly Dhs750. Jun 29-Aug 21, daily 9am-3pm. Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana, Corniche West, www.rotana.com (02 657 0000).

Kids aged four to 12 will love Ritz Kids, the summer camp at The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal. Week one, from July 6-10, is Independence Week, which encourages children to make new friends through shared arts and crafts activities. The following week, July 13-17, is Get Creative Week, so your little ones will make masterpieces and scrapbooks. Between July 20-24 Theme Week will give children the chance to learn about marine life and nature. Between August 3 and 7, Wellness Week will be a fun five days of indoor and outdoor games, culminating in a sports day. The last week, August 10-14, will be dedicated to Ritz Kids Got Talent, giving children the opportunity to show off their new skills in front of their family. Dhs1,200 for the week, Dhs200 per day. Jul 6-Aug 14. Email rc.auhrz.ritz.kids.attendants@ritzcarlton.com Between the bridges (02 818 8145).

Super savings

Al Forsan International Sports Resort has a special deal running throughout Ramadan, so you can burn off your iftar feast with one of the following sports: 15 minutes’ go-karting, 200 balls for paintballing, an hour’s wakeboarding or kneeboarding, or 30 minutes’ archery or laser shooting. Dhs230. Off 12th Street, Khalifa City A, www.alforsan.com (02 556 8555).

As well as a 15 per cent discount on all restaurants, Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club is offering 15 per cent off all its annual memberships – equestrian (usually Dhs1,000 a year), shooting (Dhs2,000), golf (Dhs11,900) and rugby (Dhs2,900). Jun 5-Aug 31. Al Maqam, near Tawam Hospital, Al Ain, www.aesgc.ae (03 768 4888).

Women, make a beeline for Wadi Adventure for ladies’ night. As well as manicures, pedicures, facials, massages, makeovers and henna, treat yourself to a buffet at this ladies’ night. A guest DJ will provide entertainment and a raffle. If you don’t win, there’s no need to be disheartened as there will also be giveaways to perk up your night. Dhs100. Jun 12, 6pm-10pm. Details above.

Pick up a free copy of one of 10,000 Yas Links summer passports and you’ll benefit from a range of discounts from meals at Hickory’s to golf lessons and rounds of golf. Free. Until Sep 30.Yas Island, www.yaslinks.com (02 810 7703).

Abu Dhabi City Golf Club’s summer sizzler package lets you bulk-buy rounds of golf at a discounted rate throughout the summer, so you can tackle its nine-hole course, practise on its two-tiered driving range or play pitch and putt. Floodlit tee times run until 9pm. A licensed restaurant and barbecue are also available. 19th Street, Mushrif, www.adcitygolf.com (02 445 9600).

Al Ain Zoo has a buy-one-get-one-free entrance offer this summer. Dhs20. Jun 1-Sep 30, 4pm-10pm, excluding public holidays. Details above.

Break your fast at the Silk Route with a traditional Middle Eastern iftar buffet. All your traditional favourites such as ouzi, lamb koftas, chicken kabssah and fish sayadiah will be available, which you can wash down with jellab, tamer (tamarind juice) and karkadeh. If you have a sweet tooth, dig into umm ali, mouhalabieh and nammoura. For every iftar, the restaurant will donate Dhs5 to the IHG Shelter in a Storm charity. Dhs135, kids under six free, kids under 12 get 30 per cent off. Email fnb.hiabudhabi@ihg.com Holiday Inn, www.ihg.com (02 657 4856).

Ramadan nights

du Forum is the place to see and be seen during Ramadan as the venue will cater for up to 550 people during iftar. In the final two weeks of the World Cup – when it will be Ramadan – the venue will be expanded to host 800 for corporate iftars. As well as the dining area, there will be dedicated prayer areas. Free entrance. Dhs110 corporate iftars, Jul 14-27, 6.30pm-8.30pm. Dhs50 suhoor Jun 28-Jul 13, 7pm-3am. Email info@duforum.ae du Forum, Yas Island, www.duforum.ae

Savour traditional Arabic and Emirati cuisine during the holy month with an iftar buffet from five show kitchens in Ingredients. A dedicated juice station will offer laban, amar al din, jallab and tamarind. Suhoor and shisha will take place on the air-conditioned pool deck from sunset to 2am. Dhs185. Jun 28-Jul 27, daily sunset-10.30pm. Email emdining@anantara.com Eastern Mangroves by Anantara, Eastern Ring Road, www.abu-dhabi.anantara.com (02 656 1000).

Celebrate iftar with a Middle Eastern buffet every Thursday, Friday and Saturday after the final call to prayer until 9pm, with unlimited soft drinks during the evening. Dhs100, to be confirmed. Jun 28-Jul 27, Wadi Adventure, details above.

Celebrate the holy month in a Ramadan tent on the beach of Shangri-la Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri. An oud player will provide live entertainment while you sip Arabic coffee and enjoy an à la carte suhoor menu. Private iftar and suhoor buffets are also available for groups. Dhs205 iftar, Dhs85 suhoor. Jun 28-Jul 27, iftar sunset till late, suhoor Sun-Thu 8pm-2am and Fri-Sat 8pm-3am. Between the bridges, www.shangri-la.com (02 509 8888).

Celebrate Ramadan and Eid at this consumer show, where you can stock up on unusual gifts and sample Arabic food. Traditional dancers and singers will provide entertainment. Price to be confirmed. Jul 12-Aug 2, Ramadan 8.30pm-2.30pm, Eid 4pm-midnight. Halls 1-5, Adnec, details above.

The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal will have a Ramadan tent overlooking the garden in which you can eat family favourites such as the rice, pea and lamb dish ouzi or camel, while enjoying shisha. You can also play boardgames, listen to an oud player and a band playing the Arabic string instrument, the kanoon. Buffet Dhs215 with soft drinks, Dhs65 for kids aged four to 12, Dhs161 for kids aged 13-16, under fours free. Dhs55 Sun-Thu, Dhs75 Thu-Fri. Jun 27-Jul 28. Email abudhabi.restaurants@ritzcarlton.com (02 818 8282).

For the second year, Emirates Palace will have a custom-built Ramadan pavilion for iftar and suhoor and shisha gatherings. The pavilion will overlook the beach on one side and the hotel on the other, and incorporate 12m high palm trees and the grand fountain of the palace terrace. As well as cosy enclaves in four private majlises, there will be a large open dining area for iftar buffets and a separate lounge area, all with air con. Dhs265 iftar, Dhs150 suhoor and shisha. Jun 27-Jul 28, daily iftar sunset-9pm, suhoor 9.30pm-1.30am. Email restaurants@emiratespalace.ae Emirates Palace, Corniche West, www.kempinski.com (02 690 7999).

Saj, fateer – a kind of Arabic meat-filled calzone – and sweet dishes such as achtaliyeh, kenafa and katayef will be made in front of you during suhoor at Layali El Hilmiya, an air-conditioned tent in the grounds of Le Royal Meridian. Once you’ve eaten, relax over shisha inside the canopy, play boardgames, watch your favourite Ramadan programmes on big TVs or listen to an oud player. Dhs175. 9pm-3am. Khalifa Street, www.leroyalmeridienabudhabi.com (02 674 2020).

A 425sqm air-conditioned Ramadan tent for 200 will be set up next to CuiScene for daily iftar and suhoor meals. You can listen to Arabic music and enjoy shisha inside the tent. Meanwhile a 2,400sqm tent for 1,000 will be built on the beach for suhoor July 14-28. Dhs10 from every iftar purchased will go towards the Special Care Centre in Abu Dhabi and Operation Smile, a worldwide children’s charity that helps treat facial deformities. Dhs185 iftar, daily sunset-9.30pm. Dhs135 suhoor Sat-Wed 10pm-2am, Thu-Fri 10pm-3am. Email dining.bab@fairmont.com Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, between the bridges, www.fairmont.com (02 654 3333).

Celebrate iftar with Arabic specialities such as decorated dates prepared by executive sous chef Ivan Musoni, then wash them down with organic laban, airan, kamar al deen, jellab, tamer Hindi and karkadieh. Dhs180 iftar, sunset until 9.30pm. Email restaurants.capitalgate@hyatt.com Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, next to Adnec, abudhabi.capitalgate.hyatt.com (02 596 1440).

Sport

Got football fever? Then hotfoot it to du Forum, as Flash Entertainment will transform it into a Fifa World Cup viewing venue for 800. Several screens will ensure you won’t miss the action, the biggest of which will be a 6x4m LED screen, the largest in Abu Dhabi. Flash Entertainment’s CEO, John Lickrish, promises, ‘This will be the biggest World Cup viewing venue in Abu Dhabi and the next best thing to actually being at the matches.’ Fans will be entertained during match breaks with arcade football games, penalty shoot-out competitions on an interactive football field, a kicking cage, quiz nights and shopping bazaar. You can also style your hair like your favourite football star. Free. 7pm doors open, matches from 8pm. Jun 12-Jul 13. Email info@duforum.ae du Forum, details above.

If you’d prefer a more intimate and discreet venue with table service, watch the World Cup from the rooftop lounge at Eastern Mangroves by Anantara, which seats 100. Each match will be shown on screens dedicated to the contest, with match commentary in English. Enjoy a pre-game warm-up with two-for-one deals 7.30pm-8.30pm and bucket deals throughout the night. Free. Jun 12-Jul 13, daily 5pm-2am (all day in July). Email emdining@anantara.com Impressions, details above.

Sports fans will flock to Yas Island Rotana Abu Dhabi to listen to live commentary as the World Cup plays on a 1x1.7m projector screen and seven TV screens – two of which are 52-inchers. If your team wins, treat yourself to five hops for Dhs109. Branded glasses and caps will be handed out to get you in the spirit, while resident DJ Joshua will provide post-match entertainment June 12-27. Yas Island, www.rotana.com (02 656 4000).

Arrive at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr this summer and follow manly growls of ‘Come on!’ and you’ll come across its beachside summer tent. Fan Zone is built for 600 fans who will be gawping at three projector screens and 12 42-inch TVs showing the World Cup. Resident DJ Rainier will provide pre- and post-game entertainment and you can join in a raffle with dining and accommodation prizes. The grand prize is a stay in any Fairmont around the world. Dhs100 for three drinks, Dhs225 for unlimited food and selected grape and hops. Jun 12-Jul 13, 10pm till late. Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, details above.

Get sweaty and join in a summer squash competition on the beach of Al Raha Beach Hotel – you might win a month’s family membership or two nights’ stay with breakfast, and there are five day passes and massage vouchers up for grabs. It will also host a volleyball competition for teams of five male and female players. Adults only. Dhs100. Squash Jun 22-27, 5pm-8pm, volleyball Aug 28-30 evening, Al Raha Beach Hotel, Al Raha, www.alrahabeach.danathotels.com (02 508 0555, to enrol 02 508 0486).

Think you’ve got a steady hand and good eye? Then join in a shooting competition and you might win a prize. Men can get into the Ramadan spirit by shooting a 9mm pistol while women can use a .22. Jun 28-Jul 22, 9.30pm-2am. Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club, www.aesgc.ae (03 702 6500).

Six billion people will be watching the World Cup so you won’t want to miss out. Catch up with the game in Moodz Lounge Bar and if you predict the winning score or the winning team for the next day’s game you’ll win a prize. The bar will also host a raffle – the winner will bag a ticket to Brazil to watch the World Cup final. Yes, you read that right. Jun 12-Jul 13. Al Ain Rotana, Al Ain, www.rotana.com (03 754 5111).

Sorso, the lobby bar at The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, will be transformed into a dedicated World Cup fan zone with six large-screen TVs – so you can watch up to four games simultaneously while listening to commentary. Between 7pm and 8pm you can buy one get one free on selected drinks. Open 7pm-2am. World Cup Jun 12-Jul 13. Email abudhabi.restaurants@ritzcarlton.com Details above.

Follow a live broadcast of the World Cup in the Arabesque tent at the Plaza Bar in Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri from June 12 to July 13. The air-conditioned tent will broadcast games live from Brazil on wide-screen TVs, with surround-sound stereos so you don’t miss any commentary. The Dhs73 entrance fee includes two selected beverages. Meanwhile Sofra Bld will kick off the World Cup with a football-themed brunch on June 13. Every Friday until June 27 a weekly raffle will give diners the chance to win a table for six in the Arabesque tent including snacks and drinks, worth Dhs1,000. Brunch Dhs250, Dhs285 with grape and hops, Dhs450 with bubbly. Details above.

Stars ’n’ Bars will host a Brazilian-themed pre-World Cup carnival night with a samba band, samba dancers, samba workshop and free Brazilian welcome drink. You can also test your shoot-out skills – score a goal and win a free pint! Selected hops will be Dhs14 from the start of every game until the first goal is scored, and there will be a barbecue on Thursday and Friday nights. Jun 6, 7pm-2.30am. Yas Marina, Yas Island, www.starsnbars.ae (02 565 0101).

Enjoy the glory of the games in a dedicated Fifa tent at Chill’O Pool Bar, which will show all matches on cinematic projectors and big screen TVs. Indulge in a sports-inspired menu featuring a Brazilian barbecue and shisha while your team goes head to head with its rival in the stadiums of Brazil. Jun 12-Jul 13, 9am-3am. Sofitel, www.sofitel.com (02 813 7777).
For further details, check future issues of Time Out Abu Dhabi or visit www.abudhabisummerseason.ae (800 555).

Highlights for your diary

Summer zoo nights
Jun 1-Aug 1, Al Ain Zoo

Cinderella by Royal Moscow Ballet
Jun 6-16, Adnec

FIFA World Cup screenings
Jun 12-Jul 13, du Forum

Transformers IV, Age of Extinction film premiere
Jul 26, Emirates Palace

Freej Live: Abood’s Dream (cultural family show)
Jul 31-Aug 2, Emirates Palace

Arab Stars Showcase
Featuring past winners from Arab’s Got Talent, The Voice and Arab Idol
Aug 14, Emirates Palace

Sunidhi Chauhan – Bollywood sensation
Aug 15, Emirates Palace

Shadowland by Pilobolus
Aug 8-18, Adnec

David Blaine – Real or Illusion? – World-class illusionist
Aug 21-23, Emirates Palace

La Verità, by the producers of Cirque du Soleil Corteo
Aug 21-31, Adnec

United Nations of Comedy II, with top Arab comedians
Aug 27-29, Emirates Palace

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