Over the past three years, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard this sentence: ‘There’s nothing to do.’ In fact, I uttered it myself on countless Friday mornings during my first 12 months in the city. But over the past few weeks, it’s started to drive me ever so slightly up the wall.
Ramadan – the only exception I’ve so far encountered, though more because it inspires an overall reluctance to leave the house, rather than there being an actual lack of activities in which to partake – is long finished. It’s just shy of four weeks since the Holy Month ended, and since then there has been such a surge of activity in the city that I’m starting to get an idea of what it must be like on the inside of a beehive.
Party planning has well and truly taken off and competition between the clubs is heating up – if your calendar looks anything like mine, October 15 is a perfect example. In 24 hours, Dubai plays host to Armin Van Buuren (not to be confused with) Armand Van Helden, the UK’s Zero 7, dance act Chicane, fashion DJ Pierre Ravan, Beirut’s favourite DJ duo Ronin & Nesta, UK garage star DJ EZ, drum and bass legend Roni Size, and Belgian-Rwandan singer-songwriter Stromae (who made his name in Europe earlier this year with ‘Alors on Danse’, no less).
Obviously, live music events or Ibiza-esque parties on the beach aren’t to everyone’s taste, but cries of ‘there’s nothing to do’ are still a bit far-fetched. It’s October, which means the weather is cooling down (my sunglasses have only steamed up once in the past week), the rooftop bars are reopening and Barasti is no longer a melt-fest. Another favourite is ‘but Dubai is so expensive’ (oh yes, I’ve also heard that one 197,586,992 times before). Just tell that to the people sunbathing once more by Jumeirah Beach Residence at the completely free beach.
So how to cope with this bombardment of fun, (mostly) cheap things to do and see? Maybe think of it a little like the UK’s Glastonbury Festival: skip past the part where you struggle from stage to stage, chafe your legs on your wellies and suffer chronic back pain attempting to see every act, and instead find your Zen far earlier – when you enjoy whatever crosses your path, simply relishing the city’s energetic, autumnal buzz. Not, of course, that this actually happens to me. Instead, I’m going to continue bouncing about like a frenetic fly, especially after the announced line-up for the F1 Yasalam gigs in Abu Dhabi; Kanye West, Kelis, Sean Paul… Who’s coming to Prince?