Diwali 2017: Activities to do in the UAE

Looking for ways to celebrate the festival of light? Here are some ideas to get you started

A traditional food stall at Ferrari World, which has a Diwali theme until October 26. Courtesy Ferrari World
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What to eat

Nina at the One&Only Royal Mirage has invited Indian masterchef and television personality Shipra Khanna to create a special Diwali dinner menu, which is available at the Indo-European restaurant in Dubai until Friday. The four-course Diwali menu (Dh280 per person) is made up of dhokla (steamed gram flour cake with lotus seeds and tamarind chutney); patrani macchi (steamed fish marinated in a green sauce and wrapped in a banana leaf); mains such as jungle maas (traditional lamb curry), murg makhani (chicken with braised tomato in a fenugreek sauce) and navratan pulao (fragrant rice with veggies and dry fruits); and baked gulab jamun (a sticky-sweet milk and sugar dumpling) for dessert. The five-course Royal Diwali menu (Dh320) additionally includes sigdi paneer (cottage cheese in a tangy cold tomato soup); and tandoori prawns with mustard.

Chef Shipra Khanna. Courtesy One&Only Royal Mirage
Chef Shipra Khanna. Courtesy One&Only Royal Mirage

Where to shop

S*uce stores are celebrating the festival of lights with Shine Bright Like Diwali, a curated collection of everything bright and colourful from this season’s collections. Buying, gifting and wearing new clothes and jewellery is considered auspicious during Diwali, and legend has it that if you do so, you’ll enjoy year-round luck and success. Our favourite finds from the S*uce edit include a sunflower silk gown (Dh15,590) from Rahul Mishra; Manish Arora’s Comet Shower Planet Bag (Dh1,200); and an 18K yellow gold floral ring (Dh2,300) from Zaabel. 

Where to travel

Plan a last-minute weekend getaway with JA Resorts & Hotels, which is offering a 30 per cent Diwali discount at its properties in Dubai, the Maldives and the Seychelles, until October 25. In Dubai, the JA Jebel Ali Beach Hotel, located a few minutes from Bollywood Park, is equipped with a private beach, ideal given the rapidly cooling weather in the UAE. Beaches are also the main draw at JA Manafaru in the Maldives and JA Enchanted Island Resort in the Seychelles, both of which have over-water villas with private pools and plenty of water sport activities.

JA Enchanted Island Resort in the Seychelles. Courtesy JA Resorts & Hotels
JA Enchanted Island Resort in the Seychelles. Courtesy JA Resorts & Hotels

What to do

Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi will undergo a nine-day, circus-inspired transformation, based on the theme, An Elephant’s Tale. The well-known Indian circus act will tell the story of Lali the elephant, with a lot of dance and drama involved. Actors, contortionists and dancers will also perform at various times each day, with shows including traditional Indian dances such as kathak, kathakali and kuchipudi. The park will also be peppered with traditional Indian food stalls, while children can enjoy arts and crafts activities such as diya-painting and lantern-making, in keeping with the festival of lights. 

What to gift

If you’ve been invited to someone’s home for a Diwali party, it’s almost criminal to go emptyhanded. Gifting chocolates is most common, although this year Chhappan Bhog in Abu Dhabi gives you the option to pick up gift boxes comprising traditional Indian sweetmeats, or mithais. Priced between Dh75 and Dh85 per kilogram, the decorative packs are filled with treats such as barfi (a fudge-like confectionary made from milk, sugar and ghee), laddoo (spherical dough and sugar balls), peda (semi-soft sweets made from khoa, sugar, cardamon, pistachios and saffron), kaju katli (a diamond-shaped cashew nut mithai) and halwa (a dessert with a viscous texture and bits of dried fruit within).


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