We’ll barely have time to recover from our Christmas gluttony before the Luxury Cake and Chocolate Conference on January 22. Also well timed for the frugal new year, Pachanga will hold its second event allowing guests to pay what they feel their meal is worth (it’s set to become a quarterly affair). The Pantry Café opens in Al Wasl Square (the new development on the corner of Jumeirah’s Safa Park), also in January. In the spring, DIFC will welcome BOCA, a Mediterranean haunt offering tapas-style small plates with dishes from Spain, Italy and France.
For a different style of opening, aimed more at eating in than out, Greenheart Organic opens its first shop in January in Barsha, while Organic Foods and Café will open two new outlets, on Sheikh Zayed Road in January, and in Jumeirah’s Village Mall in February. It’s also launching a new website.
March will be festival heavy, with cookery writers Ken Hom and Rachel Allen visiting the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2013 from March 5, and Taste of Dubai starting on March 14. In the autumn, we expect to see the return of the International Fine Food Festival, which is currently planned to become an annual event.
Music & Nightlife
There’s a flush of exciting new venues on the way. We’ve heard that the team behind People by Crystal will be opening an impressive 40th-floor rooftop bar at The H Hotel, called 40 Kong and pencilled in for mid-March. The same team will also open a high-end restaurant-bar in Souk Al Bahar a month earlier. St Tropez hangout VIP Lounge opens early in the new year at the JW Marriott Marquis. Two renowned nightlife venues are expected to open at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray: Beirut cabaret-style venue Music Hall in the third week of January, with the Supper Club to follow within a couple of months. Meanwhile, award-winning singer local Fatiniza is working on a long-awaited second album, expected to be released by February.
On the festival front, all eyes are currently on Dubai Jazz Festival, starring Deep Purple and 3 Doors Down, on February 15-23. Atelier has promised monthly events – so expect to see more huge urban and pop acts flying in. We’ve also been promised at least two Sandances before summer. Other unmissable annual fixtures are the du World Music Festival, expected in February, and Gulf Bike Week in October.
If you’ve been under a pillow since last Christmas, then you might have missed the fact that Justin Bieber is coming to town on May 4, while other hotly-tipped gigs are Slash on January 31 and The Stone Roses on February 21. Phew!
Body & Mind
The new Ocean View Hotel in JBR launches its Calm Spa and Salon on January 1, getting the year off to a good start on the grooming front. The ballet-inspired ‘barre’ body-sculpting trend that began emerging towards the end of 2012 is also set to grow with the launch of barre-based fitness company Physique 57 early on in the New Year (an exact date is still to be confirmed). The Arab Health trade show will be bigger than ever on January 28-31, with more conferences and exhibitors than ever, while Dubai Weight Loss Show returns on February 1-2, bringing with it all manner of tips for a healthier lifestyle and lighter you.
Meanwhile, on an unspecified date in the apparently very near future, Dubai Health Authority will open the Dubai Diabetes Centre, the largest specialised centre in the city. With the continued arrival of new medical facilities and medical tourists, it’s little wonder the industry is expected to grow to Dhs40 billion in 2013.
Art & Culture
The local art scene will fizz with energy early next year, when Art Dubai grips the city on March 20-23. A handful of exciting new entrants will be present, including Greenaway, normally based in Adelaide and Berlin, Yvon Lambert from Paris, Victoria Miro from London and Tanja from Berlin. Earlier in the year, award-winning Hamburg-based Iranian video and performance artist Anahita Razmi (who won the Emdash award at London’s Frieze Art Fair in 2011) will show ‘Automatic Assembly’ at Carbon 12 from mid-January.
Meanwhile, work on the expansion of Alserkal Avenue (set to be finished in 2014) will also continue this year. We’re eagerly awaiting more news on plans for the Dubai Modern Art Museum and Opera House District in Downtown Dubai, with a completion date yet to be set.
The new year in cinema gets off to a strong start with a trio of major releases pencilled in for January 17: Steven Spielberg’s biopic Lincoln, Bill Murray’s career-defining role as another president, FDR, in Hyde Park on Hudson, and the latest from maestro Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained. Valentine’s Day will see the release of John McClane’s latest adventure, A Good Day to Die Hard, while April welcomes a 3D re-release of all-time classic Jurassic Park. May’s blockbusters include some huge sequels including Iron Man 3, Star Trek into Darkness, The Fast and the Furious 6 and The Hangover Part III, plus Baz Luhrmann’s delayed adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Further ahead in November there’s another huge sequel expected with Thor: The Dark World.
From January, Dubai’s Road Transport Authority will begin allowing motorists to buy number plates adorned with images of the Burj Khalifa and other Dubai landmarks. The final list will apparently include cultural and historical monuments – but no sports clubs. In less welcome news, the RTA will also be re-introducing Salik tolls for taxi customers. Having trouble navigating the city? By mid-2013, Dubai Municipality aims to have a comprehensive navigation system, with residents and tourists able to download reliable, up-to-date digital maps of the city.
Meanwhile, real-estate advisory firm CBRE is predicting that the number of property launches will rise again in 2013 as supply becomes tight in popular communities around Dubai. Between 2013 and 2015, around 36,000 apartments and single-family homes could be completed. Finally, Ramadan is likely to begin around July 10 this year.
Shopping & Style
Dubai Shopping Festival kick-starts this week on January 3 to February 3. We’re also expecting to see Satwa’s The Avenue mall opening in the first half of the year. The first phase is situated at the crossroads of Al Wasl Road and Safa Road, but will eventually extend to Sheikh Zayed Road. If plans go to schedule, the ambitious 1km-long strip mall being built in JBR could be finished by the end of the year. There’s still no news on whether Dubai Fashion Week will make a return, after it disappeared off the map in 2012. Something that is already confirmed, however, is the mid-year Dubai Summer Surprises festival, which will give some heat relief (and great discounts) to shoppers from June 14 to July 15.
Sport & Outdoor
New York cycling studio Flywheel will launch its brand new FlyBarre sessions in January, which combine circuit training, strength building, dance, Pilates and yoga to sculpt your body. The UAE Firefighter Challenge returns on January 15-17, with UAE and European teams competing, while The Darts Masters takes place on January 31.
Unique workout spot Tribe Fit will open in February in Dubai Marina, offering a one-of-a-kind gym and social club, apparently ‘turning exercise into a community activity’. VIP desert tour service Platinum Heritage is rumoured to be launching a night safari option at some point in 2013, with visitors likely provided with night-vision goggles to spot wildlife such as Arabian oryx and sand gazelles. In November, Dubai Airshow will return, and this time there will be a ‘green’ angle, with a view to unearthing what a sustainable future for flying might look like.
As well as news that Dubai is poised to produce its own episodes of UK reality cooking show Come Dine With Me, there’s talk that Hollywood producers are planning a new reality show to be launched in 2013, based around every celeb appearance at Millions of Milkshakes in The Dubai Mall. The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature returns on March 5-9, and Dubai’s second ever Comic Con will take place at Dubai International Marine Club at Mina Seyahi on April 5-6, though there’s no news on who will trump last year’s appearance by Games of Thrones star Jason Momoa.
Dubai Airport is set for a revamp in January. New E-gates, kitted out to identify passengers through facial imprints and iris scans, will speed up passport control, and Emirates Concourse 3 will open to host an additional 19 million passengers. The new concourse will house 200 luxury rooms and a spa. There is also talk of the new Al Maktoum International Airport opening at Dubai World Central by the end of 2013. By the end of March, we expect to see new hotels Fairmont The Palm, Sheraton Mall of the Emirates and Oberoi Dubai (overlooking the Creek) all up and running. Also expected to start welcoming guests this year are the extension at The Ritz-Carlton JBR, two Rotana venues in Deira – Al Ghurair Arjaan by Rotana and Al Ghurair Reyhaan by Rotana – and two Doubletree by Hilton properties. We can’t wait.