Every year, the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai welcomes more than 10 million visitors and this number continues to grow annually thanks to the strong appeal of the city as a top shopping destination and its widespread five-star (yet surprisingly affordable) accommodation, top notch bars, restaurants and eateries and scorching desert climate. The government of Dubai (which is also considered to be the world’s fastest growing city) is recently encouraging its residents to seek permission to hold more specialist festivals for the purpose of increasing tourism levels even further. As a result, Dubai’s annual events calendar is beginning to become quite packed.
If you are looking to organise a holiday to Dubai in the future, the paragraphs below detail just a few great festivals that you could schedule your trip to coincide with. At least one of the four that I have listed below should appeal…
Dubai Shopping Festival
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Since Dubai is often considered to be the shopping capital of the world, it seems both a little odd and quite fitting that the city would host a shopping festival each year. This retail event (which launched in the year of 1996) sees shops offering extremely generous discounts on their merchandise, which already have the benefit of being tax-free. In the 2009 edition of the festival, locals and visits spent almost 10 billion DH so it looks as if the event will continue to be held for the foreseeable future!
The event (which was unnamed to begin with) was originally envisioned to create a yearly “global village” in the city, in which people of many different nationalities could come together and sell their traditional native wares and cuisine, whilst experiencing the undeniable luxury of Dubai. Even those who are not “shopaholics” are catered for through the festival’s duration, since the occasion sees many night events held, car raffles being drawn and fireworks launched.
Taste of Dubai Festival
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As you might guess, this three day-long festival – held for the first time back in the year of 2007 and considered to be one of year’s biggest culinary events worldwide – is most appealing to the foodies of the world. The event attracts some of the world’s top chef’s (past guests have included Gary Rhodes, Jeff Low and Aldo Zilli) and premium alcoholic beverage brands, as well as a wide range of international live music acts. The 2012 run of the festival (15-17th March) welcomes back The Maplejacks – the Middle East’s premier party band.
The event comprises more than a handful of cookery classes and demonstrations, interactive workshops (in both cooking and food presentation), a large purpose-designed al fresco food stall district and plenty of samples to try! Mmmmm!
Dubai Summer Surprises
June – July
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Dubai Summer Surprises (known simply as DSS by Dubai locals) is a month-long festival held to encourage more people to visit the city during its typically uncomfortable heat wave season. This festival – which sees the city’s hotels and more than 6,000 shops offering discounts to ticket holders – was launched in 1998 has its very own mascot; a yellow, springy character by the name of Modhesh designed to be particularly appealing to children (much merchandise featuring Modhesh is sold during the festival).
DSS is very family orientated and as such, many of the world’s popular children’s characters are featured in Mall-based shows. Dubai’s largest mall contains a Modhesh themed entertainment space comprising sections for toddlers, pre-teens and teenagers (including a four dimensional cinema). Parents need not fear though; there is plenty to keep them entertained too.
Dubai Desert Rhythm Festival
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Another Dubai festival with the aim of bring different nationalities together is the Desert Rhythm Festival. The event – which completely sold out and welcomed more than 12,000 individuals in 2011 – lasts for just two days in which culturally diverse food, musical artists, dance demonstrations and activities are offered to attendees. Arabic, pop, urban & soul, Caribbean and Western are just some of the musical genres played in order to see the huge crowds that are gathered uniting to the same rhythm. Amongst other western artists, this festival has introduced Kanye West and Mika to the population of the UAE since its inception in 2001.
Fire dancers, poi spinners and Shisha tents are also common sightings at this popular, tribal-inspired event. I would encourage anyone to book their holidays to Dubai to coincide with this heart-warming gathering.
Sarah McDonald is the author of this guest post. For the best deals for late holidays to a variety of different destinations, Sarah recommends checking out the Tropical Sky website.