17 things to do in Abu Dhabi and Dubai this weekend

From inspirational talks to some of music's biggest names, there is plenty happening across the Emirates this weekend

If you're looking for something to do in the UAE this weekend, prepare to be spoiled for choice as there is plenty to keep you busy.

From inspirational talks at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature to performances from some of music's biggest names at RedFestDXB, Dubai will play host to some of the most anticipated events of the year, while in Abu Dhabi there's delicious food to try, and plenty of cultural events to explore.

See our top picks below ...

Say ‘I do’ to your dream wedding dress, Dubai

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES,  APRIL 11. The Dubai Bride Show 2013. Part of 5 new trends in the market for weddings. A dress completely made out of crystals made by AsFour Crystals to showcase how their product can be used for the wedding market. (ANTONIE ROBERTSON / The National)

The Bride Show, one of the region’s biggest events for all things wedding-related is back for its 24th year, bringing together dress designers, jewellery and beauty labels, caterers, decor brands and more under one roof to help brides-to-be plan their perfect day. More than 100 international and regional brands will exhibit at this year’s Bride 2020, including UK brand Yulduz Wedding, Purplish Weddings India and Dubai’s Al Daker. There will also be catwalk shows, live entertainment and make-up tutorials throughout the event.

Wednesday to Saturday, February 5 to 8; 3.30pm-10.30pm; free with pre-registration, Dh30 on the door; Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai; 04 407 2630, www.thebrideshow.com

See Camille Thomas at Dubai Opera

Franco-Belgian cellist Camille Thomas, who was nominated as Newcomer of the Year 2014 at the French Grammys, is coming to the UAE to entertain classical music lovers for one night only. She will perform a programme featuring Bach's Cello Suite No. 1, 2, 3 and 5 in the intimate space of Dubai Opera.

Thursday, February 6, from 8pm; tickets from Dh150; Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, Dubai; www.dubaiopera.com

Play Harry Potter Pictionary, Dubai

Think you can quick-draw a muggle? Then you'll want to get down to Kinokuniya at The Dubai Mall on the evening of Thursday, February 6 for the giant bookstore's Harry Potter book night with Pictionary and prizes. It's free, and while dressing up is optional, reserving a spot is essential, and they're only taking RSVPs by phone.

Thursday, February 6, from 7pm; free; Kinokuniya, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai; 04 434 0111

Watch Stormzy at RedFest, Dubai

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13: Stormzy performs at the 2019 Global Citizen Prize at the Royal Albert Hall on December 13, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Global Citizen)

British grime artist Stormzy will return to the UAE to headline RedFestDXB 2020. The Blinded by Your Grace star will be joined by Cheat Codes and Machine Gun Kelly on Friday, February 7 for the annual two-day event at Dubai's Media City Amphitheatre. Martin Garrix, Bastille and Young Thug will play on Thursday, February 6.

Thursday and Friday, February 6 and 7; 7pm-1am Thursday, 4pm-1am Friday; from Dh395; Media City Amphitheatre, Dubai; www.redfestdxb.com

Enjoy some Friday night comedy at Laughter Factory, Dubai

A trio of top comedians will be performing at Dubai’s The Laughter Factory on Friday evening. Chris Betts, Karen Bayley and Tez Ilyas will be making their UAE debut at the Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach on Thursday, February 6 and at Zabeel House in the The Greens on Friday, February 7.

Thursday and Friday, February 6 and 7; Dh160; Thursday Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, Friday Zabeel House by Jumeirah; www.thelaughterfactory.com 

See an environmental film in Abu Dhabi

The inaugural Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival, organised by Zayed University and the Environment Agency, takes place at Manarat Al Saadiyat from Thursday, February 6 to Saturday, February 8. The free event will feature a curated selection of films highlighting pressing environmental issues, from climate change to single-use plastics, e-waste and food waste. There will also be talks from environmental activists, workshops, and a photographers’ gallery.

Thursday to Sunday, February 6 to 8, 9am-8pm; free entry; Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi; 02 657 5800, www.alsidreff.com

Take a chance on an award-winning tribute act, Dubai

Group Bjorn Again. Photo Courtesy Flash Entertainment

They have not embarked on a tour since the 1980s, but fans of Abba can experience the Swedish foursome's chart-topping tunes live in Dubai this month, thanks to Bjorn Again. The tribute act will take music lovers on a trip down memory lane, with tracks such as Waterloo, Dancing Queen and The Winner Takes It All in their repertoire. The four-piece, first formed in 1988, have performed all over the world, and have been praised by Abba founders Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson for their live concerts.

Friday, February 7; 8pm; from Dh195; Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, Dubai; www.dubaiopera.com

Last chance to celebrate Chinese New Year at Hakkasan, Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi’s Hakkasan is serving a three-course set menu, designed by chef Andrew Yeo in celebration of Chinese New Year. It features a selection of dishes, including golden treasure pockets with abalone and wild mushrooms; wok-fried Scottish scallops with taro mousseline and brown butter black bean sauce; and the Lucky Jie dessert, a salted caramel ganache with mandarin, chilli and cocoa.

Friday and Saturday, February 7 and 8, 6pm-11pm; Dh498; Hakkasan, Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi; www. hakkasan.com/abu-dhabi

Talks at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Dubai

Sir Ranulph Fiennes at Everest Basecamp, Nepal, during his Everest 2008 summit attempt.

Sir Chris Bonington and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, two of the world’s most celebrated explorers, will take to the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature stage to share their extraordinary experiences of adventure at the furthest points of the Earth. Bonington started climbing in 1951 at the age of 16, and still does to this day. His many achievements include the first successful climb of Everest’s south-west face and the south face of Annapurna. Fiennes has been described as “the world’s greatest living explorer” according to the Guinness Book of Records, and is one of only two men, together with the late Charles Burton, to have travelled around the Earth’s circumpolar surface. Their talk will be held at 6pm on Friday, February 7, at Al Ras 2.

Friday, February 7, 6pm; Dh59; Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Al Ras 2, InterContinental, Dubai Festival City; www.emirateslitfest.com

Polo season begins in Dubai

Kicking off Dubai’s polo season and the first of five tournaments in Dubai’s Polo Gold Cup Series, the Silver Cup will culminate at Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club on Friday, February 7. Nine of the world’s leading teams go head-to-head in an 18-goal handicap competition, to be watched over a polo picnic or alongside a brunch overlooking the polo field.

Friday, February 7; 8pm; Dh234; Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club, Dubai; 04 435 4444, www.habtoorpoloresort.com

Check out the action at Dub Drive GCC 2020, Abu Dhabi

Petrol heads should prepare to beeline to Yas Island for the largest gathering of Volkswagen vehicles in the Middle East. As well as a huge convoy of cars with models driven from across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, and Bahrain, Dub Drive GCC 2020 will also have live music, food trucks, a children's driving school, racing simulators and drag racing.

Friday to Saturday, February 7 and 8, 10am-7pm; free; Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi; www.dubdrivegcc.com

Oscars Week at Urban Outdoor Cinema, Dubai

Dubai's Urban Outdoor Cinema will be celebrating Oscars week by showing some of the biggest winners from the Academy Awards of years gone by. Taking place at the Habtoor Grand Resort, the Oscar Winner Special week will kick off on Saturday February 8 with a screening of Gladiator. On February 9, Chicago will be shown, and on February 10, there will be a screening of Titanic. There are three more screenings scheduled to take place on February 15, 16, and 17, but it looks as though organisers are saving those slots for this year's winners.

Saturday to Monday, February 8-10 and 15-17, 8pm; Dh75; Urban Outdoor Cinema, Habtoor Grand Resort, Jumeirah Beach, Dubai; 04 399 5000, www.dubai.platinumlist.net

Pancakes at Carine, Dubai

Shrove Tuesday may not be until Tuesday, February 25, but the French tradition of La Chandeleur (Candlemas, in English) is on Sunday, February 2, so Carine is celebrating all week. Chef Izu's eatery will be serving pancakes at live cooking stations on Fridays and Saturdays until February 8, where crepes can be freshly ordered for dessert and lunch or dinner.

Fridays and Saturdays, 8.30am-11pm, until February 8; Carine, Emirates Golf Club, Dubai; 04 417 9885; www.dubaigolf.com/carine

Check out a sustainable flea market in Dubai 

Visit the Sustainable City and check out a flea market geared towards children. As a way to nurture a culture of sustainability among younger generations, everything from books, DVDs and accessories to clothes and even antique pieces of furniture will be sold. There will also be an area where children can create their own pizza or learn how to repurpose everyday items. There are also animal friendly events such as pony rides for Dh20.

Saturday, February 8, 10am-6pm;  free entry; City Plaza, The Sustainable City, off E611, Dubai, www.thesustainablecity.ae

Marco’s New York Italian brunch, Abu Dhabi

Marco Pierre White's eatery, Marco’s New York Italian is launching its family Saturday brunch tomorrow. Taking place from 12pm to 4pm with a soundtrack of live jazz, the sharing-style starters include calamari, a heirloom tomato and burrata salad and buffalo wings. Then you can choose between mains that include risotto, beef sirloin and black cod. Desserts are to share, with tiramisu, warm chocolate brownies and a knickerbocker glory all on the menu.

Saturdays, 12pm-4pm; Dh299; Marco’s New York by Marco Pierre White, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi; www.marcosabudhabi.com

Explore the history of Islamic coins, Abu Dhabi 

A collection of historic coins is on display at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre in Abu Dhabi. Curated by Alain Baron, Coins of Islam: History Revealed looks at the history of Islamic coins through a significant collection of more than 300 pieces across civilisations. The exhibition traces the historical evolution of Islamic coinage, documented by each specimen’s date of minting and the background associated with its production.

Saturdays to Thursdays,  9am-10pm, Fridays, 4.30pm10pm; until Tuesday, April 28; free; Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre, Abu Dhabi;  www.szgmc.gov.ae

Try Black Tap's vegan shake, Abu Dhabi

Black Tap now has a vegan shake on the menu. A take on the New York burger brand's popular Black 'N White flavour crazy shake, it includes high quality vegan alternatives such as apple sauce for a perfectly moist cake, and non-dairy whipped cream. It is available at the Abu Dhabi Yas Mall eatery for Dh62 and at Dubai outlets for Dh69.

Saturday to Wednesday, 11am-11pm, Thursday and Friday, 11am-midnight; Dh62; Black Tap outlets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi; 02 446 5128; www.blacktapme.com