Dubai 2016 preview - 43 things we're excited about

Time Out Dubai looks forward to the best things to do in Dubai in 2016 (Jan-May), as well as what is new in Dubai, plus the major events

Dubai bucket list nights out, Things to do in Al Ain

Spice & Ice: It is not uncommon to find Time Outers hanging around Jazz@PizzaExpress muttering about it being a game-changing venue. So we’re cautiously optimistic about soon-to-be-opened Mövenpick JLT joint, Spice & Ice from the same team. Spies tell us it will be taking the spice part of the moniker very seriously with chilli-packed Indian food, mixed drinks and a molecular gastronomy approach to dining. With a DJ each night it could be another JLT game-changer.

Open in the first week of January. Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Cluster A, JLT,

New at Burj Al Arab: The details of a significant upgrade at Dubai’s most recognisable hotel are a secret more tightly guarded than its VIP guest list. All we know so far is that the Burj Al Arab will be getting a sophisticated new nightspot on the 27th floor. Beyond that we’re still in the dark but are pretty sure it will include floor-to-ceiling views of the Arabian Gulf and city coastline. Intriguingly, Jumeirah revealed earlier this year that it would like to make the Burj Al Arab more accessible so this could bring affordable luxury to the iconic hotel.
Opens early 2016. Umm Suqeim. See for updates.

LaOla Beach Café: 2015’s trend for quirky outlets is one we’re hoping will continue into the New Year. On our radar is LaOla Beach Café set to open at Kite Beach in early January. The beachside hangout comes from the same people behind the cool The Surf Café hangout in Umm Suqeim. Management is promising a Mediterranean vibe and we’re looking forward to grilled seafood and healthy breakfasts by the seaside.
Opens in January. Kite Beach, Umm Suqeim,

Russell Peters live: The Canadian stand-up who is known for his lightning-quick improvisation is returning to Dubai with his new Almost Famous World Tour on January 19 and 20 at Dubai World Trade Centre. The 45 year-old comic will share his take on some of his favourite communities, jobs he can't understand, mobile phones, his uncle who has never been punched in the mouth and much more.
From Dhs250-9,000 for VIP booths with drinks packages. January 19-20. Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road,

Simple Minds: One of the biggest Scottish bands of all time is coming to Dubai. Simple Minds provided the soundtrack to the 1980s and had commercial success and stadium tours on both sides of the Atlantic after their hit song Don’t You (Forget About Me) was used in the movie The Breakfast Club. Other hits for singer Jim Kerr and the band include Alive and Kicking and All The Things She Said.

Dhs225. January 28. Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Garhoud,

Totora: Set to open in early 2016, Totora will deliver the modern face of Peru with a chef dedicated to delivering authentic foods in a neighbourhood regarded as one of the culinary hotspots. The high-end aspirations and promised style will make it a must-visit for lounge aficionados.
Opens early 2016. DIFC,

More dates for your diary
Dubai Shopping Festival: For the 21st year in a row, Dubai's malls will go crazy with massive discounts, entertainment, fireworks displays and catwalk shows.
Free. January 1-February 1. Various locations including Mall of the Emirates.

Hankook 24h endurance race: The tenth anniversary of this motor racing challenge will see teams race around the clock in speedy hatchbacks.
Free. January 8-10. Dubai Autodrome, Motor City,

Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon: A prize fund of US$200,000 (Dhs734,629) and a legion of athletic amateurs make the annual fun run one of the world’s most popular road races.

Dhs440 (entry fee). January 22.

Quoz Arts Fest: Check out film screenings, live music, art exhibitions, workshops, seminars and discussions of a cultural nature from local and international artists at cultural quarter Al Serkal Avenue.
Free. January 22-23. Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz,

Dubai Show Jumping Championship: Olympic medallists will take on the UAE's elite riders in the ultimate equine show-off sport.
Free. January 28-30. Emirates Equestrian Centre, Dubai-Al Ain Road,


RedFestDXB: The line-up for the festival’s third year includes pop royalty Rita Ora alongside dance music legend and cake-chucking DJ Steve Aoki. Fresh faced boy band The Vamps, chart-topping DJ Redfoo (of LMfAO), American idol alumni Adam Lambert and the UK’s BBC Radio 1 DJ MistaJam are also on the bill for the weekend-long celebration in Dubai Media City. As before, a promenade market will have pop-up food stalls and stylish collectables.

Dhs700 (weekend pass), February 11-12. Media City Amphitheatre, Dubai Media City,

Charles Aznavour: At 91 years of age and having sold more than 180m records worldwide it is easy to label the French singer a living legend. Once named the Entertainer of the Century by CNN (beating Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan along the way) the singer has been performing since 1933 and is known as both the French Frank Sinatra and the world’s longest-serving A-list star. In short, the diminutive singer is a true legend and this Alliance Française sponsored Dubai Classics performance should appeal.

Feb 12. From Dhs295. Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road,

Dubai Music Conference: The parties you go to every weekend don't just happen you know. The DJs, the concepts, the style all have to come from somewhere. DJs, promoters and club managers work very hard to make it happen (don't laugh) and this event will bring together the best of the best. It will appeal to clubbing professionals and scene-conscious ravers interested in innovative and creative dance music nights from producers and labels. Plus, with DJs such as Juliet Sikora, Reboot, and Tube & Berger lined up to perform it promises to be one heck of a party, too.
Register online. February 18-19. JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Business Bay,

Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival: The 2016 edition is one of the year's hottest tickets. As usual, the definition of Jazz is somewhat blurred with a headline slot for Carlos Santana and return gigs for Sting and TOTO. The Postmodern Jukebox and Argentine percussionists La Bomba de Tiempo will provided yet
more funk.
From Dhs325. February 24-26, Media City Amphitheatre, Dubai Media City,

Dubai Food Festival: A stonewall Time Out Dubai favourite is back for a third year and we couldn’t be more excited about it. We're big fans of food, so this 16-day celebration of all things culinary is right up our street. A line-up of celebrity chefs and pop-up dining events will be revealed closer to the launch date, but it is the return of the sensational Beach Canteen that we're most looking forward to. Get down to Kite Beach during the festival and find the city’s hipsters and beach-lovers mingling and munching at temporary restaurants.

Free to attend. February 25-March 12. Various locations including Kite Beach, Umm Suqeim,

City Walk expansion: Regular readers will know Time Out is rather taken with al fresco shopping district, City Walk. In cooler months we love to stroll among the shops and cafés and will happily extend the walk when phase two of the complex opens in the first quarter of next year. Expect more swanky shops (Parisian boutique Carven is said to be opening) but what most appeals are the first full time venues for Michelin-star winning chefs, the Galvin Brothers. With successful restaurants of their own (including the Galvin Bistrot de Luxe and La Chapelle) and kitchen CVs with name-dropping collaborations with Marco Pierre White and Sir Terence Conran, the two restaurants will be right up there as the most anticipated openings of the year. We are especially confident of the restaurant, bakery and patisserie concept Demoiselle Café.
Expected to open in February. Al Wasl Road. See for more details.

More dates for your diary
Dubai Desert Classic: The world’s best players and a host of celebrities are coming back to the Majlis course to battle it out for a US$2.5 million (Dhs9.1 million) prize.
Dhs 175. Feb 1-7. Emirates Golf Club, Sheikh Zayed Road,

Gulf Photo Plus: Acclaimed international photographers give training and workshops as well as present their portfolio of finest works.
Free. February 5-12. Gulf Photo Plus, Dubai Knowledge Village,

Daman Hercules Trophy: Round up your workmates and compete for the title of the most heroic staff in all of Dubai.
Dhs3,500 team registration. February 6. The Sevens Stadium, Dubai-Al Ain Road,

Design Days Dubai: Design, architecture and style take centre stage for workshops and high-brow shopportunites. Dhs50.
Dhs50. March 14-18. The Venue, Downtown Dubai,

Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships: The world’s best players return. Check online for prices.
February 15-27. Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud,

M1 Run: Up to Dhs100,000 in prize money is up for grabs as the Media One Hotel has a pre-lunch race from ground to 42 floor.
Dhs99. February 20. Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City,


Emirates Airline Festival of Literature: The Middle East's largest celebration of the written word brings thousands of bookworms to readings and meet-the-author sessions with dozens of writers from all genres and nationalities. We’re especially excited for a 2016 appearance by NASA astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield, as well as Nadia Sawalha, Meera Syal, Matt Haig, John Torode, Jacqueline Wilson, Ian Rankin, Dom Joly, Anthony Horowitz and more than a hundred other writers.

Prices vary. March 1-12. InterContinental Dubai Festival City

Nikki Beach hotel: Just as the pinnacle of Palm Jumeirah has the Atlantis hotel, new reclaimed land spot Pearl Jumeirah will have the Nikki Beach Resort and Spa. Pearl Jumeirah is an ultra-swish new island community with deluxe properties and a 2km promenade. The jewel of the pearl will be the Nikki Beach Hotel. Having established itself as a premium boutique hotel in millionaire hangouts Miami Beach, St. Tropez, St. Barthes, Marrakech and Bali, it is only natural that a super-stylish 117-room property should open up in Dubai. Expect this to be one of the sleekest waterfront properties anywhere in the city.
Opens early 2016. Nikki Beach Hotels and Resorts, Pearl Jumeirah,

Dubai Opera House: Reports suggests that the fat lady may be about to sing for the long-awaited performance space in Downtown Dubai. Scheduled to be completed in March 2016, the building will host a 2,000-seat theatre in another iconic Dubai building. Dubai Opera will be dhow-shaped and we can't imagine it will be completed long before major operatic, theatrical and music concerts are announced.
Opens early March. Downtown Dubai. Check for updates.

Neonsplash: Its parties have swept across Europe like a wave of brightly-coloured marauders leaving dance music lovers in their paint-splatted wake. The formula is simple – book the biggest European DJs, bulk-buy thousands of litres of neon paint, line up some dancers, a light show and some special effects and then throw a rave that will exhilarate the senses like no other. Sound good to you? That’s what the 500,000 revellers to have attended a Neonsplash party so far thought too. Expect an announcement in early 2016.

Dara O’Briain: Last month Irish comic Dara O’Briain announced on Twitter that he would be bringing his Crowd Tickler tour to Dubai in 2016. The show has been confirmed to take place at Dubai World Trade Centre, March 17. St. Patrick’s Day, no less. See our interview on page 30.
From Dhs300. March 17. Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road,

More dates for your diary
Desert Road Runners: The only rubber burnt on the Autodrome track is on your sneakers as social joggers race around the track.
Dhs170. Mar 12. Dubai Autodrome, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road,

Art Dubai: More than 90 galleries from around the world will exhibit at the prestigious art fair, which culminates in the US$100,000 (Dhs367,314) Abraaj Art Prize.
Dhs50. March 16-March 19. Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim,

Holi Hai: Live music, dance performances and a splash of Holi colour will brighten up Dubai's largest park.
Prices to be announced. March 25. Zabeel Park, Oud Metha,

Dubai World Cup: US$30 million (Dhs110 million) worth of prize money will be awarded for the 21st anniversary of the world's richest race day.
Prices to be announced. March 28. Meydan Race Course, Nad Al Sheba,

Beach Polo Cup: International teams saddle up and compete in the sandy spectator sport of kings.
Prices to be announced. April 1-2. Skydive Dubai, Dubai Marina,

Further Ahead

The Heart of Europe: 2016 should be the year we finally get to see more happening on The World islands and The Heart of Europe resort is among the most sought after. The flagship St. Petersburg Island has been redesigned to incorporate clusters of floating villas radiating from a central heart-shaped island in what the designers have said is inspired by the Maldives.

Due to complete by October. The World islands. For more information visit

Legoland Dubai: The developers of this pre-teen theme park, part of Dubai Parks & Resorts, have revealed it will have more than 15,000 Lego model structures, 40 interactive rides and shows spanning across six zones. A dragon-themed roller coaster ride, which reaches 16 metres into the air and speeds of 96kph, is already complete and master builders are working round the clock to transform more than 60mllion Lego bricks into a world class attraction. As the song says "Everything is awesome!"

Due to open in October. Jebel Ali, for details.

Motiongate: You'll need to take a deep breath to list all of the attractions at this movie theme park, part of Dubai Parks & Resorts. Here goes – rollercoasters, white water rapids, motion simulators, live theatre shows, aerobic performances and, as the saying goes, much more. Among the zones are rides inspired by The Hunger Games, Shrek, Smurfs, Zombieland, Ghostbusters, Kung Fu Panda, Step Up and many more Hollywood favourites.
Due to open in October. Jebel Ali, for details.

Bollywood Parks Dubai: This section of Dubai Parks & Resorts is 1.7 million square feet of Bollywood themed attractions. Rides, attractions and dance performances inspred by Lagaan, Sholay, Rock On, Krish and more of the biggest Bollywood films are being developed and the Rajmahal Theatre will have big production performances every day of the week.
Due to open in October. Jebel Ali, for details.

Riverland: Described as the gateway to Dubai Parks & Resorts, this waterside district will be an outdoor entertainment area with themes including The French Village (a mock medieval town), Boardwalk (Americana-themed 1950s high street) and The Peninsula (a hive of streetlife, performance and dining in faux 19th century buildings). The highlight will be a second Irish Village, which will serve drinks along a kilometre-long stretch of waterfront.
For updates and more information check out

More dates for your diary

Dubai Holding Vertical Marathon: Run 1,334 stairs, 263 metres and 52 storeys directly upwards while raising money for a good cause.
Prices to be announced. April 1. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road,

World Art Dubai: An international exhibition that focuses on the sale of art for all budgets and levels of collector.
Free. April 6-9. Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road,

Middle East Film and Comic Con: Dubai’s greatest celebration of geek culture will be back with Cosplay, celebrity cameos and plenty of photo opportunities.
Prices to be announced. April 7-9. Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road,

Dubai Tango Festival: Performers from across the world will bring the tango to dancefloors in Dubai.
Dhs350. May 18-21. Meydan Hotel, Nad Al Sheba,

Legendary DJ back in Dubai for one-off beach party in October

Yui offers diners dozens of options ranging from Evian to Solan De Cabras

You'll still need to fork out a lot of dirhams to catch the beauty talk

Blue and white walkways have been installed in more places

Prepare for a 5km and 13km course at Dubai’s Jebel Ali Racecourse next month

HiU messenger is available for download for Etisalat customers


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