You'd be forgiven for thinking January is going to be a quiet month, but you'd be wrong ... very wrong.
If your New Year's resolution was to save some money, we have information about Dh1 meal deals. Or perhaps you want to unwind? Well, hotel days spent hopping from the pool to the spa should be just the ticket.
There are also exhibitions opening, film festivals launching and plenty of international musicians jetting into town, from Lewis Capaldi to Saad Lamjarred, Mohammed Ramadan and Robbie Williams.
Below, we have rounded up 51 activities to fill your diary with, to guarantee you start 2020 in style ...
Visit The Selfie Kingdom
The Selfie Kingdom has opened in Motor City. The new space features 15 pop-up rooms filled with vibrant but differing backdrops and props. The range of backdrops on offer includes Insta-friendly unicorns, cherry blossoms and angel wings. To avoid things getting stale, the rooms will be redesigned every few months to provide a fresh immersive photo experience. In addition, it will also host other exhibitions and installations from other artists. There is a special Dh55 per adult per hour promotion until the end of February.
Daily, 11am-8pm; Dh65 per adult, per hour; Daytona House, Office 101, Motor City, Dubai, www.theselfiekingdom.com
Dine in luxury in the desert
Sonara Camp's eco-desert dining experience opened last month, welcoming visitors to its chic but laid-back Dubai setting. Expect cosy seating areas, hammocks, a spacious dining table and atmospheric lighting at the desert experience, as well as a bar and live entertainment. There are vegan, vegetarian, meat and seafood options, as well as a separate selection for kids. Dishes are prepared in the camp's open-air kitchen. The location is a 35-minute drive from Downtown Dubai, driving east on the E66 Dubai Al Ain Road.
Daily, 3pm to 12am, Dhs860 adults, Dhs380 children aged 5 to 12; Sonara Camp, Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Dubai; 050 336 0397; www.nara.ae/sonara
Volunteer with animals in Abu Dhabi
Volunteering is a great way of de-stressing, and one of the best ways is by helping animals. With so many abandoned cats and dogs in the capital, Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi always needs help, and it is totally reliant on volunteers to help feed and look after thousands of stray and street animals. It also runs education programs in schools and universities to help teach about the importance of sterilising pets and strays.
Try stand-up paddle boarding
The UAE is pretty much the perfect place for stand up-paddle boarding (SUP), with its calm seas and long coastline. Kite N Surf Dubai offer SUP hire for full days, and is ideal for those who are already comfortable on a board, and want to get out a explore at their own pace. Available for one, two or even more days, the company can even arrange the boards to be delivered and collected.
Daily, 7am-6pm; from Dh100; Nessnass Beach, Dubai; 055 800 6363, www.kitensurf.ae
Take in a wildlife photography exhibition
Canon, in partnership with Nature Art Trails Institute, is hosting an exhibition titled The Vanishing Pole, featuring pictures of endangered wildlife in the Arctic region. Captured by award-winning wildlife photographer Nitin Michael, the exhibition aims to explore how climate change has affected wildlife there, and educate people about its seriousness.
Ongoing until Monday, January 13; 10am-10pm; free; Times Square Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai; www.pawstrails.com
Visit Al Shindagha Days
Make plans to attend the inaugural Al Shindagha Days. The 10-day festival, announced by Dubai Culture, coincides with the ongoing Dubai Shopping Festival, and starts on Thursday, January 9. The event aims to introduce visitors to the ancient history of Dubai with events taking place in the Al Shindagha neighbourhood. The festival has a range of cultural and entertainment activities to check out such as Emirati folk games, culture-inspired art and theatrical performances.
Ongoing until Saturday, January 18, various timings; free; Al Shindagha Museum, The Perfume House, The Historical Documents Centre, Saruq Al Hadid Archaeological Museum and the waterfront area in old Dubai; www.dubaiculture.gov.ae
Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival
This annual event, now running in its 22nd year, is bringing more than 250 activities of workshops, exhibitions and lectures to Sharjah. Organised by the Sharjah Department of Culture, this year’s festival has the theme of Prospect. Among the artists whose work is featured are British artist Sinta Tantra with her colourful patterns and Syrian artist Mohamad Hafez with his incredible miniature models of Syria to name a few.
Ongoing until Tuesday, January 21; various times; free entry; Sharjah Art Museum, Al Shuwaihean, Sharjah; www.sdc.gov.ae
Enter a 21st-century ruin
Once Alserkal Avenue's place of zen, the cafe and co-working space Nadi Al Quoz has been transformed into a ruin, with sand dunes and concrete slabs filling the space. Inside, light installations akin to emergency lights add to the sense of apocalyptic decay. Developed by artist collective Metasitu, the idea behind the work, titled we were building sand castles_but the wind blew them away_FINALFINAL3.psd, centres on deconstructing architecture and reflects on the process of industrialisation in the context of urban settings.
Ongoing until January 25; Saturday to Thursday, 10am to 7pm, closed Fridays; Alserkal Avenue, Dubai; www.alserkalavenue.ae
Dine for a dirham at Tanuki
If eating better and saving more are part of your New Year’s resolutions, head to Tanuki Dubai for a mid-week meal. The pan-Asian eatery has launched its Dine for a Dirham offer this month, which will serve a selection of dishes that are all 200 calories and priced at Dh1. On this special Wednesday menu are: edamame; miso soup; nigiri, gunkan and tuna; salmon, eel and yellowtail sashimi; maki such as spicy maguro, unagi, kappa and tekka; unagi tofu salad; and mains such as yasai yakisoba and yasai tyahan.
Wednesdays until January 29, 6pm to 11pm; Dh1 for selected dishes; Tanuki, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai; 04 580 8228, www.tanukidubai.com
Have Dh5 Oysters at Seafood Kitchen, The Pointe
Seafood Kitchen at The Pointe is celebrating its first birthday by offering unlimited Dibba Bay Oysters for Dh5 (down from Dh9 per piece) throughout the month of January from 5pm-8pm. Guests can also head upstairs to the SK Lounge to take in sea views of the surrounding area.
Daily, until Friday, January 31, 5pm-8pm; Dh5 per oyster; Seafood Kitchen, The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, www.facebook.com/seafoodkitchenDXB
Catch the Trolls and Spongebob Squarepants in Dubai
DreamWorks’ Trolls and Nickelodeon’s Spongebob Squarepants are the mascots for this year’s Dubai Shopping Festival, and will put on performances and parades at CityWalk, Al Seef, La Mer, The Beach and The Outlet Village. Catch shows by Poppy, Branch and the rest of the all-singing, all-dancing Trolls gang, and performances by Spongebob and his friends from Goo Lagoon from now until Sunday, February 2 across Dubai.
Ongoing until Saturday, January 25, 4pm to 10pm; City Walk Dubai; from Tuesday, January 7 to Monday, January 13, 4pm to 10pm; Al Seef, Dubai; from Thursday, January 2 to Saturday, January 11, 4pm to 10pm; La Mer, Dubai; from Monday, January 27 to Sunday, February 2, 3.30pm to 10pm; The Beach, JBR and The Outlet Village, Dubai; all shows, parades and activities are free to view
Jamaica through a lens
Photographer Peter Dean Rickards considered himself an “unofficial member of the Jamaican Tourist Board” because of the unique way he portrayed his country. Instead showcasing the lush forests or pristine beaches common in visitor catalogues, Rickards instead took a documentarian approach – capturing moments of chaos, beauty and resilience on the streets of Jamaica, with a specific focus on the characters who inhabit them. The survey exhibition boasts of these moving and sometimes humorous images, offering an extraordinary glimpse into the “yard”, a term for home in patois.
Ongoing until February 6; Saturday to Thursday, 10am-7pm, closed Fridays; The Third Line, Dubai; www.thethirdline.com
The second annual Sharjapan exhibition
The second iteration of Sharjapan is taking place this month, an exhibition bringing new technologies and Japanese practices to the Sharjah art scene. The exhibition comes as part of a four year-agreement between the Sharjah Art Foundation and curator Yuko Hasegawa. This year's exhibition focuses on Japanese performance art and sound installations, featuring electro-aquatic music, theatrical movement pieces and an android conducted orchestra.
Ongoing until Saturday, February 15; free; various locations in Sharjah: Bait Obaid Al Shamsi, Arts Square; Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts; Al Mureijah Square; Theatrical Association; Al Mureijah Square; and Sharjah Academy of Performing Arts, University City; www.sharjahart.org
Art at Warehouse421
See How to Maneuver: Shape-shifting Texts and other Publishing Tactics, an exhibition that challenges the traditional concepts of publishing. With more than 40 works on display, the show is the largest presented at Warehouse421. The works are developed by artists, writers and publishers from across the region and the world. The exhibition aims to open up relevant conversations around notions of authorship, independence, censorship, values, constraints and dominant discourse.
Ongoing until Sunday, February 16, 6pm-8pm; free; Warehouse421, Mina Zayed, Abu Dhabi; 02 6768803, www.warehouse421.ae
Get building at Dubai's Lego Festival
Visit the Lego Festival at Dubai Festive City Mall. The event is for kids and adults alike, offering a host of activities and a Lego Ninjago-themed Imagine Show. There will also be seven Lego-themed zones at the festival, located across the mall in both indoor and outdoor venues. The sections are to dedicated to Lego City, Lego Friends, Lego Duplo, Lego Ninjago, Lego Technic, Lego Architecture, Lego Shadow Runner and Lego Jungle. With more than one million Lego bricks, guests will be able to try their hands at building sculptures of trains, fire engines or even a Burj Khalifa model.
Until Saturday, March 14; Sunday to Wednesday, 2pm-10pm, Thursday to Saturday, 2pm-midnight; Dh30; Lego Festival, Dubai Festival City Mall; Crescent Road, Dubai; 800 332; www.dubaifestivalcitymall.com
Contemporary Saudi life through the eyes of an artist
Saudi artist Sarah Abu Abdallah explores the effects of images and social media on our experiences and personal relationships. Titled For the First Time in a Long Time, the exhibition features the artist’s work over the last six years, spanning various mediums such as video, painting, text and installation. Abu Abdallah’s work is often diaristic, and these personal anxieties are reflected in her depiction of everyday life in Saudi Arabia. A new large-scale painting, specifically made for the exhibition, is also on view.
Ongoing until Monday, April 20; Wednesday to Monday, 10am to 8pm, Fridays, 12pm-10pm, Tuesdays closed; Jameel Arts Centre, Jaddaf Waterfront, Dubai; www.jameelartscentre.org
Veganuary at Atlantis The Palm
In support of Veganuary, restaurants at Atlantis, The Palm have launched special vegan menus. Ayamna, Bread Street Kitchen, Hakkasan, Nobu, Ronda Locatelli and White Beach & Restaurant have all curated new dishes. These include a vegan take on two of Gordon Ramsay’s most famous dishes (a “shepardless” pie or a vegetable wellington served with a beetroot jus) at Bread Street Kitchen, and three-style mushroom stir-fry with lily bulb and macadamia nut at Hakkasan.
Ongoing until Friday, January 31; Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai; 04 426 2000, www.atlantis.com
Sample a street food festival
The Street Food Fest at World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi has been extended until the end of January, offering the opportunity to sample diverse cuisines from around the world, from American pancakes to tandoor Indian kebabs and Filipino barbecue bites. There’s also a farmer’s marker, music, street performers, dancers and drummers, as well as interactive workshops and activities for children.
Ongoing until Friday January 31; 5pm-10pm; free; World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi
Mobile Maze at Marina Mall
The world’s largest mobile maze has opened at Marina Mall. Located between the Carrefour entrance and Centrepoint, the 2,787-square-metre Wonder Maze offers visitors about 45 to 60 minutes of fun. The best part? Since it’s designed and developed in modules, the configuration is changed frequently – ensuring no two trips are the same. A five-metre-high viewing platform lies at the centre, and it has a “Quick Exit” for those who want to leave without having to make their way through it again.
Ongoing until Wednesday, April 22; 11am-10pm; Dh35; free for children under 100cm; The Wonder Maze, Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi; www.thewondermaze.com
Experience the Sovereign Forest at NYUAD
See The Sovereign Forest by Indian artist Amar Kanwar at NYUAD Art Gallery. The ongoing multimedia installation is a response to crime, politics, human rights, and ecological crisis. It evolved out of the political and environmental conflict in the tribal Indian state of Odisha. The Sovereign Forest was created in collaboration with media activist Sudhir Pattnaik, and designer and filmmaker Sherna Dastur.
Ongoing until Saturday, May 30; Monday to Saturday, noon-8pm, closed on Sunday; free; NYUAD Art Gallery, NYU Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, www.nyuad-artgallery.org
See modern Arab art at the Sharjah Art Museum
The A Century In Flux exhibition presents the second chapter in Barjeel Art Foundation’s long-term collaboration with the Sharjah Art Museum. All works on display come from the Foundation’s extensive collection of modern Arab art, reflecting ways in which the region’s artists have responded to political events and the human condition over the course of a tumultuous 20th century.
Ongoing until August 31, 8am-8pm, Saturday to Thursday, 4pm-8pm, Fridays; free; Sharjah Art Museum; 06 569 1112, www.barjeelartfoundation.org
January 1 to 4
Recharge at Melia Desert Palm Dubai
Put the focus on you this New Year at Melia Desert Palm Dubai. The one-day recharge package starts with a tour of the hotel’s sprawling estate followed by a healthy breakfast and a 30-minute mini facial. After a nutritious lunch and some pool time, chose from a personal training session or horse riding then wind down with a yoga class. Wrap things up with a 90-minute full body treatment at the spa followed by dinner at Rare.
Sunday, January 1 until Friday, January 31; 9am-9pm; from Dh1,520 per person; Dubai Melia Desert Palm Dubai, Al Awir Road; 04 323 8888 www.melia.com
Watch some of 2019’s biggest films
Miss one of last year's top blockbusters or just fancy watching your favourite film again on the big screen? Vox Cinemas is going to be showing some of 2019's biggest movies on the big screen until Wednesday, January 8. The movie throwback will take place at the following locations: Mall of the Emirates, City Centre Mirdif, City Centre Deira, Nakheel Mall, City Centre Fujairah, Al Hamra Mall in Ras Al Khaimah, City Centre Ajman, Yas Mall and Al Maryah Island, both in Abu Dhabi, and City Centre Sharjah. The cinemas will show Joker on Wednesday, January 1, Captain Marvel on Thursday, January 2, Avengers: Endgame on Friday, January 3, Spider-Man: Far from Home on Saturday, January 4, John Wick 3 on Sunday, January 5, War (Hindi) on Monday, January 6, Glass on Tuesday, January 7 and finally Shazam! on Wednesday, January 8.
Daily, various times, until Wednesday, January 8; from Dh40; Vox Cinemas, various locations; uae.voxcinemas.com
Tuck into Italian classics at Pappagallos
Banish the January blues with delicious Italian comfort food at Pappagallos. Throughout January, you can tuck into a revolving menu of pizza and risottos every day at this long-running Italian eatery in the heart of the capital. Sit outside for the ideal Italian al fresco lunchtime.
From Monday, January 2, 12:30pm-3:30pm; from Dh89; Pappagallos, Le Meridien Abu Dhabi, Al Zahiyah; 02 644 6666, www.thevillageatlemeridienabudhabi.com
Care for a pup with K9 Friends
Book a spot during a sponsored dog walk with K9 Friends Dubai. Registration is from 8.45am to 10.30am. There is a Dh100 sponsorship contribution, which goes towards the upkeep of the dogs. The event includes a 45-minute walk with the canines around the shelter, and there will be a treasure hunt for children.
Friday, January 3, from 8.45am; Dh100, K9 Friends Dubai, RSVP at email@example.com or call 04 887 8739
Cycle around Al Wathba
Take part in a race around the Al Wathba Cycle Track that is being organised by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. The 90-kilometre course, which includes three laps of a 30km loop, is open to riders of all abilities, with junior, short, burner and long courses available to people in different age groups.
Friday, January 3; 3.30pm-5pm, registration at 2.30pm-3.25pm; from Dh55 for children and Dh75 for adults; Al Wathba Cycle Track, Abu Dhabi; www.gulfmultisport.com
Watch the Sukhishvili Georgian National Ballet
The Sukhishvili Georgian National Ballet is coming to Dubai Opera for the first time. Described as "the world's greatest dancers" by The Washington Post, the company, which was formed in Georgia's capital of Tbilisi in 1944, blends ballet with folk-inspired traditional dance and acrobatics.
Friday and Saturday, January 3 and 4; 8pm on Friday and 2pm and 8pm on Saturday; from Dh275; Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai; www.dubaiopera.com
See Mahmoud Al Turki at Global Village
With cooler temperatures, January is the ideal time of year to visit Global Village and this month you can also combine a visit to the multicultural amusement park with a gig by Iraqi singer Mahmoud Al Turki. Expect the pop star to sing some of his top hits including Yema Hmeid, Taal and Dommeny, Dommeny at the gig, which will be the first of Global Village's 2020 weekly concerts.
Friday, January 3, concert starts 9pm; Dh15 (admission fee to Global Village); Main Stage, Global Village, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road and Emirates Road, Dubai; 04 3624444, www.globalvillage.ae
Catch a Ne-Yo concert in Dubai
American musician Ne-Yo will perform live at Drai's Dubai nightclub's catwalk-style stage on the first Friday of the new year. The Grammy-winning singer and songwriter has released more than 15 singles across six studio albums, and is expected to perform hits such as So Sick, Closer, Because of You, Miss Independent and Let Me Love You at the Dubai show – all of which were top 10 hits in the UK and US.
Friday, January 3, 10pm to 4am; Dh200 for men, ladies enter free; Drai’s Dubai, Meydan Racecourse Grandstand, Dubai; 052 388 8857, www.draisdxb.com
January 5 to 11
Celebrate Orthodox Christmas at Ammos
High-end Greek restaurant Ammos, which is perched alongside the Rixos JBR’s sprawling swimming pool, is celebrating Orthodox Christmas with a limited-edition offer. Celebrated on Tuesday, January 7, Orthodox Christmas follows the Julian calendar, which is about two weeks behind the more common Gregorian calendar. Diners can savour a sharing-style fresh Mediterranean-style seafood platter, featuring a dozen oysters, grilled lobster, Greek sea bream and king prawns for lunch or dinner, for Dh995.
Tuesday, January 7, noon to 5pm and 7pm to 11.30pm; Dh995 for two; Ammos, Rixos Premium, JBR, Dubai; 052 777 9473, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hear the music of ancient Granada with Jordi Savall
Grammy Award-winning Catalonian musician Jordi Savall, who is joined by the ancient music ensemble Hesperion XXI, will present a programme that takes in 500 years of musical history spanning the East and West. A key part of the program will be Savall’s exploration of the cosmopolitan music coming out of ancient Granada.
Tuesday, January 7; 8pm-10pm; tickets from Dh150; Cultural Foundation Theatre, Abu Dhabi; www.culturalfoundation.ae
Explore Akram Dost Baloch’s Identity
Award-winning artist Akram Dost Baloch presents a solo exhibition themed around identity at Studio Seven Art Gallery. The celebrated Pakistani talent, a graduate of the National College of Arts in Lahore, explores his passion for human rights and the traditional motifs of Balochistan in his paintings and sculptures.
Tuesday to Thursday, January 7 to 9; 9am-6pm on Saturday to Thursday and closed on Fridays; free; Studio Seven Art Gallery, 803 Oxford Tower, Business Bay, Dubai; www.studioseven.ae
Feast on truffles at Trattoria
It’s truffle season again and Trattoria Toscana in Souk Madinat Jumeirah has a limited-edition menu packed with dishes featuring the darling of the food scene. Feast on dishes like homemade tagliolini with parmesan fondue or soft egg and truffle potatoes sauce with bread chips created by chef de cuisine Giorgio Minnone.
Tuesday to Friday, January 7 to 31; noon-12:45am; prices vary; Trattoria Toscana, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Al Sufouh Road, Dubai; 800 666353, www.jumeirah.com
Plan a day out with for a good cause
Planning a children’s day out? Then head to the Splash n’ Party waterpark and keep the family happy while helping raise funds for the wildfires in Australia. For a limited time, the company will be donating 50 per cent of all general admission tickets to selected charity organisations including Adopt a Koala, Red Cross and Wires Wildlife Rescue. Available at both Dubai venues.
Thursday, January 9 to Saturday, January 18; 9am-8pm; Al Safa 2, Street 8A, Villa 1, Jumeirah; and 3pm-9pm (10pm weekends); Kite Beach, Dubai; from Dh69; www.splashnparty.ae
Have an evening with Rio Ferdinand
The noted former Manchester United player is in Dubai for a live and unscripted interview at W Dubai – The Palm that’s open to the public. Football fans can hear the star talk through his career highlights and personal experiences. Special packages can be booked for tables of 10, including everything from free drinks to complimentary photos and a three-course meal to live entertainment until 2am. Sponsors get a private session with Ferdinand before the interview.
Thursday, January 9, 6.30pm-2am; from Dh2,130; W Dubai – The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai; www.platinumexperiences.group
Enjoy some Laughter Factory comedy
The Laughter Factory is here to offer a refreshing take on the New Year, with their Start 2020 Completely Wrong tour. British comedian Stephen Grant will headline the shows, and will be on hand to offer his witty ruminations on almost everything. He'll be joined by Geordie comic Matt Reed, who's known to be a funnyman "not for the faint hearted". Canadian comedian Peter White rounds off the line-up.
Thursday, January 9, Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, 9pm; Friday, January 10, Studio One Hotel, Dubai, 9pm; Wednesday, January 15, Park Rotana, Abu Dhabi, 8pm; Thursday, January 16, Grand Millennium Dubai, Dubai, 9pm; Friday, January 17, Dukes The Palm, Dubai, 9pm; Dh160; 0501003074, www.thelaughterfactory.com
Run for charity in Abu Dhabi
The ADCB Zayed Sports City run is back, this time celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Make-A-Wish UAE Foundation. Children and adults are invited to run a range of distances, from 1.6 kilometres to 10k, and all proceeds are being donated to the charity, which makes the wishes of terminally ill children come true. It’s a worth cause.
Friday, January 10; 7.45am-10am, registration from 6am; various prices from Dh90; www.adsc.ae
Go fly a kite at Dubai Kite Fest
Kite Fest is returning to Creek Park this weekend, as a range of family-friendly activities are on offer to mark the arrival of spring. This South Asian tradition sees people flying kites, while visitors can also take part in workshops and competitions. For live entertainment there are dancers, DJs and musicians playing traditional dhol or drums.
Friday, January 10; 10am-8pm; free; Creek Park, Gate 1, Dubai Creek, Dubai; 052 819 1755
Try Sweet Greens's keto brunch
Book a spot at Sweet Greens for its keto brunch on Friday, January 10. Items on the menu include keto eggs Florentine, cauliflower crust pizza, almond flour waffles, bulletproof coffee and a turmeric keto milkshake. The event will also feature a talk from health coach Mim Kleiberg, who is also the co-owner of The Room, about the ketogenic lifestyle.
Friday, January 10, noon-3pm; Dh169; Sweet Greens, Rihan Heights, Abu Dhabi, www.facebook.com/sweetgreensuae
See Hindi play 'Chuhal' at Alserkal Avenue
Chuhal, a romantic play written by Manav Kaul and directed by Huda Bhaldar, tells the powerful love story of Sudhir and Aarti in the 1990s. The pair are extremely different from one another, and yet pulled together through mutual attraction. It's a story told from the female perspective and takes the audience on a light-hearted journey through the meaning of life, love and liberation.
Friday, January 10; from 4.30pm; Dh100; The Junction, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai; www.thejunctiondubai.com
Saad Lamjarred and Mohamed Ramadan live in Dubai
Both Saad Lamjarred and Mohamed Ramadan are big names in the Arab popular landscape. Moroccan singer Saad Lamjarred has released numerous hits including Lm3allem' and Ghaltana, while Egyptian actor Ramadan has recently dipped his toes into music with the bangers Mafia and Number One. This is their first-ever joint performance and is part of the Dubai Shopping Festival.
Friday, January 10; doors open at 7pm; Hall 3 and 4, Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai; www.dubai.platinumlist.net
Mohammed Assaf and Omar Al Abdallat in Sharjah
Mohammed Assaf, winner of Arab Idol, and Jordanian singer-songwriter Omar Al Abdallat, are set to take to the stage at Al Majaz Amphitheatre on Friday, January 10. The duo, known for their repertoire of popular Arabic songs, will perform as part of the new season of #letsmajaz, which will feature a number of concerts featuring top Arab and international musicians, until April.
Friday, January 10, 7pm; Dh100; Al Majaz Amphitheatre, Sharjah; www.sharjah.platinumlist.net
Get serenaded by Emirati crooner Eida Al Menhali
Emirati singer Al Menhali is most known for his hit single Motasoa. Coming to Cultural Foundation Theatre this month, in the past the seasoned performer has played at numerous large-scale events including the opening ceremony of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in Abu Dhabi as last year's Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival.
See 'Game Changer' performance dance
International dance company Aura will perform Game Changer, choreographed by award-winning Lithuanian artist Birute Letukaite, at Concrete this week. The dancers, wearing elaborate and restrictive costumes, perform inspiring limited movements while rearranging the space to live music. Their outfits, designed by Dutch installation artist Guda Koster, serve as symbols of societal restraints, as the performers embody the human spirit and explore the concept of freedom.
Friday and Saturday, January 10 and 11; 8pm-9.30pm on Friday and 5pm-6.30pm on Saturday; Dh150; Concrete, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai; www.alserkalavenue.ae
January 12 to 18
Enjoy Privilee perks
The UAE’s fitness and leisure app, Privilee, is offering a six-month membership for Dh3,999, if you sign up between Sunday, January 12 and Saturday, February 29. Membership entitles you to access to 55 pools, 26 private beaches, 62 gyms, more than 1,000 fitness classes and 25 kid’s clubs across the UAE.
Sunday, January 12 to Saturday, February 29; Dh3,999, 04 554 7820, www.privilee.ae
Laugh along with DSF Comedy Nights
Get ready for a night of fun and laughter as four Arab comedians take to the stage. The event, which is part of DSF, will see some of the region’s top comedic talent entertain audiences at Dubai World Trade Centre. Mo Amer is a Palestinian-American who was worked with the likes of Dave Chapel; Bader Saleh is a popular comedy figure in Saudi Arabia; Nemr a Lebanese-American performer; while Ali Al Sayed is a local comedian and the founder of Dubomedy. Each comedian is popular in his own right, so being able to watch them all together is sure to make for a memorable evening.
Thursday, January 16; 7pm-10pm; from Dh195; Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road; www.dubai.platinumlist.net
Watch the pros on the green in Abu Dhabi
Get on the green to watch the pros as the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship rolls into town. This European Tour golf tournament sees some of the biggest names in golf head to the capital for four days of competition. There’s plenty for the whole family at the Championship Village where there will be live entertainment, food and beverage stalls and children’s play areas.
Thursday to Saturday, January 16 to 19, gates open at 7am, from Dh50 (general admission); Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Sas Al Nakheel, Khalifa City A, Abu Dhabi; www.abudhabichampionship.com
See a flick during the Reel Palestine film festival
Reel Palestine, an annual film festival showing a selection of alternative Palestinian films, is coming back for another year. This year the festival will kick off its biggest programme to date, with more than two screenings per day, talks, and a vibrant market of Palestinian crafts and flavours. Films will be showing at Cinema Akil in Alserkal Avenue in Dubai and Warehouse 421 in Abu Dhabi.
Thursday to Sunday, January 16 to January 26, daily, 5pm to 9pm; Dhs52.5; Cinema Akil, Al Serkal Avenue, Dubai and Warehouse 421, Mina Zayed, Abu Dhabi; www.cinemaakil.com
Launch of the Sharjah Fringe
The best of the world-renowned Fringe festival is coming to Sharjah. The emirate will host a selection of acts that were born on Fringe stages around the world and, today, represent the very best of the global Fringe repertoire. With 1,100 hours of entertainment spread across 600 performances covering theatre, music, puppetry, magic, dance and interactive street shows, Sharjah Fringe is set to transform the UAE’s cultural heartland into a creative, theatrical playground.
Thursday, January 16 to Saturday, February 1; tickets range from Dh35 to Dh50 (discounts for children and seniors); Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Qasba and Al Noor Island; 06 556 0777, www.sharjahfringe.com
Try the Ras Al Khaimah triathlon
January is always jam-packed with outdoor and fitness events, but brand-new occasions to get your heart-pumping are constantly popping up. This year marks the first-ever Ras Al Khaimah triathlon, taking athletes around the stunning scenery of Al Marjan Island. The course is flat and fast, so it's perfect for first-time triathletes, or seasoned veterans aiming for a new PB. There are four different distances, and relay options are available.
Friday, January 17; 8am; from Dh150; Double Tree by Hilton, Al Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah; 052 590 4692, www.supersportsuae.com
Decathlon Sports Weekend
Take part in The Decathlon Sports Weekend at The Galleria Al Maryah island. Participants can enjoy complimentary cross training and boxing classes, as well as basketball and football competitions with special prizes for the winners. The free community event is open to all ages and fitness levels.
Friday and Saturday, January 17-18, 11pm-4pm; free; The Galleria, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, www.thegalleria.ae
Enjoy a movie night under the stars in Al Ain
The Al Ain Rotana hotel will be hosting an al fresco family movie night on Friday, January 17. Pokemon Detective Pikachu will be shown on the outdoor screen while classic cinema snacks such as popcorn, nachos and cotton candy is served. Tickets cost Dh30 for children and Dh55 for adults, and include a snack and a drink.
Friday, January 17, 7pm; from Dh30; Zest Garden, Al Ain Rotana, Abu Dhabi; 03 754 5111, www.rotana.com
Judge a Comedy Kix stand-up competition
For the first time, Comedy Kix, a comedy collective in Dubai, will be hosting a Beat the Kickers event. New and seasoned comedians will get a chance to go against funny-makers Imah Dumagay, Liz Bains, Sahar Ali and Amr Elassal (aka the Kickers), with the audience acting as the judge. Up to 12 acts will take to the stage and those who last five minutes against the Kickers stand a chance to become the night’s winner, with vouchers up for grabs.
Friday, January 17; from 7pm; free; Kickers Sports Bar, Dubai Sports City; www.comedykix.com
See Lewis Capaldi live in Sharjah
Get tickets to see Scottish singer Lewis Capaldi, who will perform in the UAE for the first time when he takes to the stage at Sharjah's Al Majaz Amphitheatre on Friday, January 17. Capaldi is known for his chart-topping hit Someone You Loved, from his album Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent.
Friday, January 17, 7.30pm; from Dh156; Al Majaz Amphitheatre, Sharjah; www.platinumlist.net
Check out the Thai Festival 2020 at Umm Al Emarat Park
Thai Festival 2020, hosted by the Royal Thai Embassy in Abu Dhabi, will take place at Umm Al Emarat Park on Friday and Saturday, January 17 and 18. Under the theme “Amazing Thailand – Go Local,” the two-day event aims to promote Thai culture through food, traditional performances, cooking demonstrations and boxing shows.
Friday and Saturday, January 17 and 18, 10am-10pm, Dh10 to enter the park, Umm Al Emarat Park, www.facebook.com/thaifestival.abudhabi
Discover Dubai at night with photography courses
Fans of photography will be happy to learn that Rove With Nikon is back for a second edition, with instructor Paul Aggarao. Head to Rove Downtown hotel in Dubai and borrow a Nikon Z or Nikon Z50 DSLR camera, as Aggarao leads you around the photogenic hidden spots of Dubai. The best image will win a DX Nikon camera.
Friday, January 17 and Saturday, January 18; 5pm-9.30pm; free but registration in advance is essential; Rove Downtown Dubai; www.rovehotels.com
See ‘Broken Wings’ at Dubai Opera
An autobiographical account of The Prophet author Khalil Gibran's first love, Broken Wings is a moving musical adaptation of the legendary Lebanese poet's 1912 masterpiece of the same name. An ageing Gibran narrates from his cold studio in 1923 New York, where, through his poetry and music, he transports his audience back two decades, to turn-of-the-century Beirut and when he fell in love with the daughter of a family friend. The pair had to fight for their relationship, as they navigated rules, traditions and society's expectations.
Friday and Saturday, January 17 and 18; 8pm on Friday and 3pm and 8pm on Saturday; from Dh295; Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, Dubai; www.dubaiopera.com
Watch 'Singin' in the Rain' at Cinema Space
See a screening of Singin' in the Rain at Cinema Space. The 1952 film stars Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds. The romantic-comedy musical tells the story of performers caught up in the transition from silent films to "talkies".
Saturday, January 18, 4pm; free with registration, Cinema Space, auditorium, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, register at cinemaspace-abudhabi.splashthat.com
January 19 to 25
Shop sustainably at Retold
To celebrate its second birthday, Dubai secondhand store, Retold, is having in-store discounts and free activities all week. Ranging from free manicures to mini yoga sessions, simply pop into store between Monday, January 20 to Thursday, January 23 to learn more about sustainable fashion, and help save the planet, while getting a free hair braid.
Monday, January 20 to Thursday January 23; 9am-9pm; Retold, Shop 5, 9394 Avenues, Umm Sequim Road, Dubai; www.shopretold.com
See comedian Jo Koy live in Dubai
Filipino-American comedian Jo Koy is coming to Dubai. The comic is set to bring his Just Kidding world tour to the Coca-Cola Arena on Monday, January 20, marking his debut performance in the emirate. In 2018, Koy was named Stand-Up Comedian of the Year at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, and also has a hit weekly podcast called The Koy Pond with Jo Koy.
Monday, January 20, 7pm; tickets from Dh195; Coca-Cola Arena, Downtown Dubai, Dubai; www.coca-cola-arena.com
Visit a bridal show
Brides will be spoilt for inspiration in the coming weeks, with the return of the annual Bride show. Taking place in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Bride 2020 will offer over 100 specialists brands –from dress designers, jewellery makers, wedding planners, and even honey moon destinations- to help ensure every bride’s wedding is exactly as she dreamed. Bride Abu Dhabi is taking place this month, and Bride Dubai will take place from February 5 to 8 at Dubai World Trade Centre.
Wednesday, January 22 to Saturday, January 25; 3.30pm-10.30pm; Free if registered in advance, or Dh30 on the door; Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Al Khaleej Al Arabi Stree, Abu Dhabi; www.thebrideshow.com
Enjoy a childhood classic
A mesmerising stage adaption of Antoine de Saint-Exupery's book, Le Petit Prince, is coming to Dubai Opera for a limited run. The show brings the beloved 1945 novella to life through dance, music and circus performances, as it follows a young boy who travels through the universe on a series of encounters. Aerial feats, cosmic costumes and projections will capture the interstellar journey on stage, with direction and choreography by France's Anne Tournie.
Thursday to Saturday, January 23 to 25, 3pm matinees of Friday and Saturday, 8pm show daily; tickets from Dh275; Dubai Opera, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai; www.dubaiopera.com
Tom Gates at the Cultural Foundation's theatre
The award-winning Tom Gates book series is coming to the stage for the first time in Abu Dhabi. The show will bring a brand new story exclusively for the theatre production, based on the series' beloved characters, Tom, his best friends Derek and Norman and their band Dogzombies. The show is perfect for children between 5 and 12 years old.
Thursday, January 23; 12pm to 2pm and 8pm to 10pm; tickets from Dh50; Cultural Foundation, Abu Dhabi; culturalfoundation.ae
Hit the ground running
The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is back for its 21st year, offering both seasoned athletes and budding runners a chance to pound the pavement and score a medal. The full 42-kilometre route laps Jumeirah Beach Road and traverses Al Sufouh, taking in views of the Burj Al Arab and Palm Jumeirah, while there is also a 10km race and a 4km fun run. Spectators who want to cheer on racers can find plenty of good viewing spots along the course on Jumeirah Beach Road, as well as grandstands at the finish line near the Dubai Police Academy, with seats available on a first come, first served basis.
Friday, January 24, from 6am; $50 (Dh184; 4km), $85 (10km), $150 (full marathon); from Umm Suqeim Road, Dubai; www.dubaimarathon.org
Celebrate Burns Night in Dubai
Burns Night, a celebration of Scottish poet Robert Burns, falls on January 25 every year, but this year Dubai's Scots in Dubai Scottish Association is hosting its Burns Supper on Friday, January 24. Enjoy traditional Scottish haggis, neeps and tatties, ceilidh dancing and entertainment aboard the QE2. The celebrations will take place in the Queens Room, and packages cost Dh375 for soft drinks and Dh475 with house beverages.
Friday, January 24; 7pm; from Dh375; The Queens Room, 'Queen Elizabeth 2', Mina Rashid Marina, Dubai, UAE; www.facebook.com/scotsindubai
See Prateek Kuhad live in Dubai
Fresh from his nod as one of Barack Obama's choices as song of the year, Indian folk singer Prateek Kuhad is performing in Dubai. He'll be taking to the UAE stage for the first time at The Rotunda at Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai on Friday, January 24. Watch him perform songs from his four album back catalogue, including the former US president's choice, cold/mess.
Friday, January 24; from 8.30pm; Dh150; The Rotunda at Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai; ae.bookmyshow.com
Robbie Williams live at The Pointe
The British chart-topper will take to the stage at The Pointe as part of the 25th anniversary of the Dubai Shopping Festival. Williams, who rose to fame as part of 1990s pop five-piece Take That before embarking on a solo career, will treat fans to a range of his most renowned tracks, such as Let Me Entertain You and Angels.
Friday, January 24; concert starts at 9pm; Dh295; The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai; www.ticketmasteruae.ae
Quoz Arts Fest returns
UAE art lovers are most likely familiar with Quoz Arts Fest, an annual arts and culture event that brings together the many creatives clustered around the industrial area of Al Quoz. Organised by Alserkal Avenue, the event is now in its ninth year and its 2020 event is themed ‘In Search Of…’ The programme includes live music and dance performances, as well as new exhibitions inside the Avenue’s galleries. There’s also a free concert by Jordanian-Palestinian band 47Soul and an iteration of a Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition on food and sustainability.
Friday to Saturday, January 24 to 25; various times; free entry; Alserkal Avenue, Dubai; www.alserkalavenue.ae
Poetry and movement: Al Raheel
In this collaboration between Emirati writer Reem Almenhali and American director Joanna Settle, notions of womanhood, innocence and grief are examined through a performance that fuses poetry, projected imagery and movement. Inspired by a series of poems about women's journeys from childhood to old age, Al Raheel or Departure offers a bilingual reflection on how individuals handle change in an ever-shifting world.
Watch 'Gaza' documentary
Critically acclaimed documentary Gaza will finally arrive in Dubai this month, fresh off the festival circuit. After first premiering at the Sundance Film Festival last year, the film has been lauded for its fresh take on the war in Gaza. The documentary is told through the stories of the people living in the strip – and focuses on their lives, rather than dwelling on themes of war and struggle. The film fittingly opened Gaza's Red Carpet Human Rights Film Festival in December.
Thursday and Friday, January 24 and 25; 7pm on Thursday, 5pm on Friday; Dh52.50; Cinema Akil, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai; 04 223 1139, www.cinemaakil.com
Celebrate the Year of the Rat
To mark Chinese New Year, restaurants around Atlantis, The Palm are serving up specially curated dishes in honour of the occasion, which falls on Saturday, January 25. Among the venues taking part is Cantonese favourite Hakkasan, which has crafted a limited-edition set menu featuring plates such as diver scallops with taro mousseline and brown butter black bean sauce, salt crust fortune baked chicken, and a salted caramel ganache dessert. A live DJ performance between 7.30pm and 9.30pm every evening will also compliment the authentic experience.
Friday, January 24 to Saturday, February 8, 6pm-11pm; Chinese New Year menu costs Dh498, including one drink; Atlantis, The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai; www.hakkasan.com/dubai
Stretch it out at Abu Dhabi’s Yoga One studio
Abu Dhabi’s Yoga One studio is marking its third birthday on Saturday, January 25 with a day-long celebration that includes a pop-up market, music, healthy food and plenty of yoga classes. A Dh150 ticket entitles you to unlimited classes on the day, with options on offer for all ages and abilities, but you will need to sign up in advance as spaces are limited.
Saturday, January 25, 9am-4.30pm; Dh150; Yoga One, Mangrove One Complex, Abu Dhabi; 050 950 8863, www.yogaone.ae
January 26 to 31
Hear some of the world’s classical greats at Abu Dhabi Classics
Abu Dhabi Classics is back for another year, bringing a host of international acts, orchestras and soloists to the capital as part of its musical programme. This year celebrates the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven's birth, with a performance of his 9th Symphony by the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, with the line-up also featuring a concert by French pianist Lise de la Salle, as well as a headline show from Lebanese singer Majida El Roumi and her 70-piece orchestra.
Tuesday, January 28 to Friday, February 7, various timings; tickets from Dh50; various locations; www.abudhabimusic.ae
Taken on the Wadi Bih race
The jagged peaks of Dibba form the backdrop of this epic relay race through the mountains. Wadi Bih has long been a staple on the UAE racing calendar, and it's back for another heart-racing round. Choose your distance – 60 kilometres for a team, or 15, 30, 60 or a whopping 72 kilometres for individuals – get a group of five runners together, and a gutsy four-wheel drive vehicle to get the rest of the team to each stop, and you're ready for a gruelling day of burning calories.
Friday, January 31; 6am; from Dh190 for individual runners, Dh1,500 for a team; Dibba Beach Resort, Dibba, Oman (passport information must be provided for border passes); 052 590 4692, www.premieronline.com
Human and K9 Challenge
Register for the seventh Human and K9 Ultimate Challenge. The event sees owners and pets take on the stunning Jabel Jais mountain. Participants will set out with their pets on the moderately challenging eight kilometre trek in the scenic Hajar Mountains. The challenge is suitable for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness, including those new to hiking. Checkpoints will be set up at regular intervals to ensure the safety of participants and past events have taken around four hours to complete.
Friday, January 31; from 7am; from Dh260 per person; Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah; 04 427 3727; www.facebook.com/HumanK9Challenge
Enjoy bingo, but not as you know it
Known for its raucous atmosphere and impressive prizes, Bingo Loco will be coming to McGettigan’s Abu Dhabi on Friday, January 31. Expect an afternoon of lip sync battles, dance offs and, of course, a few rounds of bingo. Previous prizes have included a trip to Las Vegas and tickets to Coachella festival.
Friday, January 31, 1pm-5pm; Dh140; McGettigan's, Al Raha Beach, Abu Dhabi; www.bingo-loco.com
An audience with Harry Redknapp in Dubai
Harry Redknapp is bringing his sell-out UK tour to Dubai for an evening of stories, anecdotes and laughs from his lengthy career in British premiership football as manager of AFC Bournemouth, West Ham United, Portsmouth, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Queens Park Rangers and Birmingham City. Hosted by Noel Brodie, Redknapp will take the audience down football memory lane.
Friday, January 31, 6.30pm; from Dh295; Movenpick Hotel JBR, The Walk, Dubai; 04 449 8888, dubai.platinumlist.net
Jordanian singer Aziz Maraka returns by popular demand
Aziz Maraka has been turning regional music industry heads with his evocative song-writing. After his sold out performance in Abu Dhabi in September, the Jordanian singer and pianist returns to the UAE for a Sharjah concert. Maraka's lovingly composed folk songs and ballads marry Levantine melodies with the classical music training Maraka received as a child. He will be supported by fellow Jordanian Adham Nabulsi, a former contestant on the television talent quest The X Factor.
Friday, January 31; doors open at 7.30pm; tickets from Dh100; Al Majaz Amphitheatre, Al Majaz Waterfront, Sharjah; www.sharjah.platinumlist.net/
See John Legend at Dubai's Coca-Cola Arena
Singer-songwriter John Legend is set to play Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena later this month. The show, which will take place on Friday, January 31, will be part of the closing celebrations of the Dubai Shopping Festival. Tickets for the show are on sale now and start at Dh195 for silver level seating going up to Dh995 for for VIP tickets. The concert marks the end of a month-long sale across the emirate, which has seen dozens of malls and hundreds of stores slash prices for the annual shopping event.
Friday, January 31; 8.30pm; Coca-Cola Arena, City Walk, Dubai; from Dh195; www.coca-cola-arena.com