Dubai authorities have encouraged organisations to implement various festivals and events throughout the year in order to attract tourists to the city, making sure their stay is as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible.
January – February
Dubai Marathon: a charitable funding event which allows one to take part for a small fee with the chance of winning a hefty cash prize. There are three types of races enabling the event to attract a wider scope of entries: the ‘fun run’ which is only a 3km run for those who have not got the best fitness levels, the over 15’s run which is a 10km road race and the long distance, 50km marathon which is only suitable for 18 year olds and over.
Dubai Shopping Festival: although Dubai is well known as a shopper’s paradise throughout the year, the month of January is particularly good for bargain hunters. Throughout January, over two million visitors flock to Dubai for the month-long Shopping Festival, which seems to involve every shop in the city, with concerts, children’s entertainment, firework shows and other events offering a welcome break from the city-wide shopping frenzy.
February – March
Dubai Desert Classic: this is the most popular golfing event in the UEA, many of the world’s leading swingers return every year for the chance to play for the generous prize money. The competition is held at the famous Emirates Golf Club and generally attracts many tourists, who particularly enjoy the exhilaration on the final day.
Dubai International Jazz Festival: this annual festival is held Dubai Media City and appeals to many tourists who have enjoyed the engaging line ups in the past and the warm friendly atmosphere. Recent line ups have included, Toto, Robin Gibb, Stanley Jordan and Jamie Callum.
Dubai Tennis Championships: this is one of the most exciting events that brings together some of the best tennis players in the world, including Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova. The Dubai Open is held at the Aviation club, and the championships consist of an ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) and a WTA (Women’s Tennis Association). It is a fantastic opportunity to come and watch some of the best stars, with the sun shining down complimented by exquisite refreshments, for a relatively low price. Prices start at around 30Dhs.
March – April
Dubai Art Fair: this event has been held since 2007 at The Madinat Jumeirah. The Art fair does well to lure some of the best artists from around the world, enabling them to come and flaunt their work.
Dubai Desert Rock: this two-day event in March attracts many tourists from around the globe who appreciate music festivals. CSM, the organisers, have gathered over the recent years some of the best artists such as, The Prodigy, The Darkness, Iron Maiden and Megadeth.
Emirates World Series-Dubai World Cup: every year Dubai is home to the world’s richest horse race, with a six million US dollar prize fund ensuring the presence of the world’s best horses, jockeys and trainers. The action takes place at the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, where state-of-the-art facilities and a superb track provide race goers with a unique and atmospheric venue at the city’s largest social event.
April – May
The Bride Show: during April, Dubai plays host to the annual Bride Show, which features a variety of events centered on the theme of weddings. The event attracts hundreds of exhibitors from all over the region, with the main events being held at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre.
Festival of Taste: held at The Madinat Jumeirah, this is strictly dedicated to the lovers of food. It runs for a period of one week, where top global chefs come and prepare their most delicious specialties for various social events and even give tips on cooking and presentation.
June – July – August
Dubai Summer Surprises: commonly known as DSS, is represented by a life size yellow springy mascot, Modhesh, which adds comical value and is especially attractive to the younger generation. DSS was implemented in order to encourage tourists to visit at the peak of Dubai’s heat wave. The 10 weeks of DSS are divided into separate themes such as food, the arts, adventure and nature, as well as hotels in the city offering special ‘shopaholic’ packages in order to attract more guests.
September – October
Motexha Textile Show: this annual trade fair is the largest of its kind in the Middle East and attracts exhibitors and shoppers from right across the region. The main fair is located at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre and features over 500 exhibitors spread throughout 30 international pavilions that cover every branch of the clothing and textile industry.
October – November
Desert Rhythm: this two day music festival is fairly new to Dubai. Its second fixture was only launched in 2007 and was a huge success. Artists such as Mika and Kanye West along with other famous singers introduced themselves to the UAE for the very first time.
UAE Desert Challenge: this rally is part of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup and is the last race that starts off in Abu-Dhabi and finishes in Dubai. The duration of the rally lasts for five days and is very popular with fans of fast cars and bikes.
November – December
Dubai Rugby Sevens: every year, the Dubai Exiles Rugby Club plays host to the first round of the IRB Sevens Series, with 16 international teams competing over three days for the prestigious trophy. The three days of competition are accompanied by various other shows and events designed to keep visitors of all ages entertained, while those new to rugby will find the fast and furious matches a good introduction to the sport.
Dubai international film festival: this encourages independent and art-house cinema to get a better recognition from the public with special guests attracting large audiences, such as George Clooney and Morgan Freeman.
National Day Festival: Dubai’s National Day Festival is an annual day of celebration to commemorate the Emirates’ independence from Great Britain, with many of the city’s leading monuments opening their doors to the public and putting on special events throughout the day.
Ramadan: Oct – September, depending on the Lunar Calendar. The Muslim festival of Ramadan lasts for a whole lunar cycle of 30 days and is observed by Muslims all over the world. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims must refrain from consuming anything for pleasure between the hours of sunrise and sunset, in all forms of food, drink, cigarettes and even sex being prohibited. Non-Muslims in Dubai are also expected to observe the strict abstinence rules during this time, as breaking them in public is seen as highly offensive and disrespectful. The sighting of the moon that signifies the end of Ramadan brings about several days of wild celebration, with locals and visitors alike indulging in feasts and parties across the city.
Diwali: Nov – Dec, depending on the Lunar Calendar. Due to the large expatriate Indian community in Dubai, the festival of Diwali is also considered to be a significant celebration throughout the city. It is the Hindu ‘Festival of Lights’, making sure bright lights and fireworks are spread around the city. Indian restaurants take part in the celebration across the city and on the streets parties are held with traditional desserts offered.