Gulf Bike Week 2012 in Dubai

Rock festival moves to a new home and returns to its roots

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It’s been an 18-month wait since the last Gulf Bike Week, best remembered for an underwhelming performance by the late Amy Winehouse. Now the annual expo has shifted from February to October (Thursday October 18 to Saturday 20, to be precise), after organisers discovered that the market – ie bikers – found the event more useful at the start of the cooler season. It also has a new home, moving from Festival City’s car park to its grassier neighbour Festival Park, and boasts a significantly heavier bill starring US metal band Megadeth. ‘We’re going back to our rock’n’roll roots,’ says Christopher Hudson, managing director of festival organiser Mecom Forums.

Also on the bill at this year’s event, are US rockers Daughtry and Brit indie band Razorlight, signalling a shift back towards the ethos of 2009’s inaugural festival, headlined by Deep Purple. That event attracted 10,000 people to half a car park in Festival City. A year later, attendance tripled to 30,000, with concerts by Nickelback and Status Quo, an attendance matched by last year’s event, which also featured Pharrell Williams alongside Winehouse (the latter was notoriously booed after a lacklustre performance).

This year, organisers hope to attract more than 40,000 fans to the new setup – the expo will feature more than 100 participating brands. Casual visitors will be more interested in the huge Festival Field, which features performances from a sword-swallower and stunts from former world number one freestyle motocross rider Jack Field. Meanwhile, there are opportunities to saddle up at the KTM Eliminator contest and the Kids’ Quad Zone, as well as a custom bike competition, and food and drinks from a range of outlets including Belgian Beer Café and local steakhouse Terra Firma. See you there.

Essential festival info

When? The festival runs from 2pm-7.30pm on Thursday October 18, noon-7.30pm on Friday October 19, and noon-6pm on Sunday October 20 at Festival Park, Dubai Festival City.

How much? Daily access to the expo and the Festival Field costs Dhs50 for adults, Dhs25 for children. Tickets for the Megadeth concert on Thursday October 18, and the Daughtry and Razorlight gig on Friday October 19 each cost Dhs300 (standard), Dhs400 (for Rock Zone access nearer the stage), Dhs500 (for VIP including Rock Zone access). Doors for both concerts open at 7.30pm. For more information, see www.gulfbikeweek.com.

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