Diwali 2020: how to celebrate the festival of lights in the UAE

From fireworks to festive menus, there is a host of things to look forward to

epa08773412 Visitors look on fireworks at the Global Village in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 25 October 2020. The 25th edition of the Global village is running from 25 October 2020 till 18 April 2021. This edition is including 78 cultures represented in 26 pavilions and 3,500 outlets with taking all safety precautions to avoid the spreading of COVID-19.  EPA/ALI HAIDER
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Diwali falls on November 14, and the UAE is all set to celebrate the five-day Indian festival of lights with a wealth of events, activities and promotions. Whether you're looking to head out or stay in, here's a look at what is happening, from firework displays to festive menus.

Note that due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, residents have been urged to follow safety guidelines including maintaining social distancing and wearing face masks when in public.

Diwali celebrations in Abu Dhabi

Fusion Diwali menu at Punjab Grill

Chicken tikka chaat from Punjab Grill. Courtesy Punjab Grill 

The fine-dining restaurant in Abu Dhabi is curating an a la carte menu, available between Wednesday, November 11 and Sunday, November 15. Expect dishes with a contemporary twist, such as: kundapur paneer bites with masala uthappam; pulled jackfruit raj kachori; and Chettiar-spiced southern chicken wings. Diners can also expect old favourites such as kheema mutter karanji and makkai saag with missi roti, plus street food options such as masala maska bun and pav bhaji. Some of the limited-time dessert options are zameen chakri shahi tukda, kesar peda pavlova and jalebi churros. Indoor and outdoor seating is available, with the terrace offering views of the canal.

Wednesday to Saturday, November 11 to 15; 12.30pm-midnight; prices start at Dh45 for the a la carte menu; Punjab Grill, The Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal, Venetian Village, Abu Dhabi; 050 668 3054

Diwali thali at Zambar Coastal Kitchen

The South Indian restaurant in the capital's Bawabat Al Sharq Mall will serve Indian thalis that can enjoyed between Thursday, November 12 and Saturday, November 21. Meat lovers can opt for the four-course non-vegetarian platter for Dh79, with a choice among mint and coriander chicken, Nilgiri mutton korma and spicy Lucknowi dum fish curry for the first course. Classic tikkas make up course two, while course three is a choice of dal or vegetables. The vegetarian thali, for Dh69, features paneer makhani, dal makhani, home-style cauliflower and aloo koliwada. Each thali also includes naan, rice, pickle, chutney, a signature dessert, as a well as a bowl of payasam (traditional rice pudding).

Thursday to Saturday, November 12 to November 21; 10am-midnight; Dh69 for the vegetarian thali and Dh79 for the non-vegetarian thali; Bawabat Al Sharq Mall, Abu Dhabi; 02 676 5509

Discount at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi for Indian nationals

Indians residing in the capital have a new reason to visit Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. The Yas Island destination has a special rate of Dh95 over the Diwali weekend, down from Dh295. Residents have to book their visit online and present their national ID at the ticketing counter.

Thursday to Saturday, November 12 to14; 11am-8pm; Dh95; Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Island; www.ferrariworldabudhabi.com/en/offers/diwali-offer

Indian sweets at Bombay Canteen

Customise a Diwali sweet box with Bombay Canteen. Courtesy of The Galleria Al Maryah Island

The Indian street food restaurant at The Galleria Al Maryah Island has launched Diwali sweet boxes that make for perfect gifts. These feature an assortment of traditional Indian treats such as motichoor ladoos, besan ladoos, milk cake, kaju katli, khoya, mawa pedas and a variety of barfis. Special orders can also be placed for the Diwali sweets to be customised.

Available until end of day Saturday, November 14; 11.30am-11pm; Dh65 for 500gms and Dh110 for 1kg; Level 3, The Galleria Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi; 02 621 0104

Order in some Diwali tiffins

Not in the mood to get out of the house? Indian delivery concept Tiffin & More is making the festival of lights all the more cheerful with limited-time Diwali combos, with packages starting at Dh50 that can feed a family of four. A set menu includes dishes such as the Punjabi samosa and bhujiya pakoda, mains including malai kofta, chole masala and aloo curry, and a dessert of shahi tukda.

Wednesday to Tuesday, November 11 to Novemeber 17; Dh50 for the veg Diwali tiffin and Dh60 for the non-veg variant; orders can be placed via Zomato, Deliveroo and Talabat

Diwali celebrations in Dubai

Fireworks and fountain shows at The Pointe

The dining and retail destination on the Palm Jumeirah will celebrate the start of Diwali on Friday, November 13, with a special performance set to contemporary Bollywood songs courtesy of the Palm Fountain, which was recently declared the world's largest dancing fountain. Visitors can also expect fireworks at 9pm, while a selection of restaurants at The Pointe will offer discounts and Diwali menus. A detailed look at restaurants will views of The Palm Fountain can be found here.

Friday, November 13; 9pm onwards; The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah; www.thepointe.ae

Global Village festivities and fireworks

epa08773412 Visitors look on fireworks at the Global Village in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 25 October 2020. The 25th edition of the Global village is running from 25 October 2020 till 18 April 2021. This edition is including 78 cultures represented in 26 pavilions and 3,500 outlets with taking all safety precautions to avoid the spreading of COVID-19.  EPA/ALI HAIDER

The family-friendly cultural festival, which recently reopened, has a range of activities planned for Diwali. Lights, Camera, Action, Bollywood will be performed twice nightly starting Monday, November 9, giving guests a behind-the-scenes look into how Hindi films are made. Also starting November 9, Bollywood artists will take to the streets of Global Village for a flash mob. Those looking for festive treats, gifts and bargains can browse the 240-plus stalls at the India pavilion. Fireworks will take place on Thursday and Friday evening.

Daily; Saturday, 2pm-11pm; Sunday-Wednesday, 4pm-midnight; Thursday, Friday and public holidays, 4pm-1am; Dh15; www.globalvillage.ae

Bollywood-themed shows at Al Seef

The Creekside retail and leisure destination is celebrating the festival of lights with offers on dining, hotel stays and shopping. Bollywood-themed shows will be performed live on the open-air stage, while shoppers stand to win family staycations when they spend a minimum of Dh200 at Al Seef Souk.

Thursday to Saturday, November 12 to 21; free; www.alseef.ae

Indian shows at Dubai Festival City Mall

Enjoy two performances as part of Dubai Festival City Mall's Diwali celebration, daily until Saturday, November 21. These will be projected on its giant laser screen Imagine, starting from 6.30pm. One is a performance of Hathi's Garden, which tells the story of a baby elephant, and the second is a rendition of Jai Ho, the song featured in the movie Slumdog Millionaire, along with Diwali greetings projected after every performance.

Daily, until Saturday, November 21; 6.30pm onwards; free; www.dubaifestivalcitymall.com

Candles from The Saffron Souk 

Get into the festive spirit by lighting candles. Courtesy of The Saffron Souk

Large gatherings may be off this year, but it’s still possible to usher in the festival of lights in your own home by putting up some decorative candles. The colourful options available at The Saffron Souk are hand-painted.

Six candles available for Dh30; www.saffronsouk.com

Diwali sales and discounts 

Al Futtaim Watches and Jewellery will offer discounts of 25 to 70 per cent on jewellery until Saturday, November 21, for Diwali, while Damas is offering a 22-karat gold coin with every purchase of diamond jewellery valued at Dh2,500, until Sunday, November 15. Koraba Jewellery will give shoppers a voucher worth Dh500 when they spend Dh1,000 in-store until Saturday, November 21. Other brands including Crystal Gallery, Dubai Garden Centre and clothing store Hollister will have sales of 25 to 75 per cent until Saturday, November 21, to celebrate Diwali.

Daily, until Saturday, November 21; across Dubai; www.visitdubai.com/en

Diwali decor and activities at BurJuman

Festive decor at BurJuman Mall. Courtesy of BurJuman

One of Dubai's oldest malls is celebrating the spirit of Diwali with Indian-themed decor, perfect for family-friendly selfies, best taken after picking up the traditional bangles being distributed at the main atrium between 3pm and 10pm. Those who spend Dh200 or more at any of the retailers, stand a chance to enter a raffle with prizes, including gold, up for grabs.

Daily, until Saturday, November 14; Saturday to Wednesday, 10am to 10pm; Thursday to Friday, 10am-11pm; BurJuman Mall; www.burjuman.com

Diwali feast at Indya by Vineet

The restaurant by celebrity Indian chef Vineet Bhatia is offering a three-course Diwali Dhamaka sharing menu, available on Saturday, November 14. Diners can enjoy dishes such as charcoal sev papdi chaat, coriander fish, daulat aunty’s mutton dhansak and chicken makhani, plus kulfi falooda for dessert.

Saturday, November 14; 6pm to midnight; Dh285 per person; Indya by Vineet, Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa; 04 316 5550; indya-dubai.com

Home-cooked menu at Cafe Funkie Town

Diwali dishes at Cafe Funkie Town. Courtesy Cafe Funkie Town

Parsi restaurant Cafe Funkie Town is marking Diwali with a special initiative: it has tasked five chefs in the UAE to each come up with a signature dish that will be available on the festive menu. Customers heading to either of its branches in JLT or Business Bay in November will be able to savour dishes such as fafda chaat by chef Ritu Chaturvedi, dahi kebab by chef Neha Joshi, Ram ladoo by chef Jyoti Narang Watchmaker, chicken muthi kebab by chef Farha Deeba, and gulab jamun tiramisu by chef Keerti Dundoo Vodela.

The Diwali dishes are available throughout November; a la carte with prices starting at Dh49; branches in Jumeirah Lakes Towers and Business Bay, Dubai; www.cafefunkietown.com

Binge on all-you-can-eat Diwali dishes

Those in the mood for a real Diwali feast can head over to either of Purani Dilli branches, as the restaurant is offering an all-you-can-eat deal on Saturday, November 14. In the evening, feast on starters and mains such as lehsuni palak, murgh handi, paneer lababdar and mutton yakhni pulao, and end the meal with gajar ka halwa, cham cham, balu shahi and a live jalebi counter.

Saturday, November 14; 7pm-midnight; Dh55 for children aged 5 to 10 and Dh99 for adults; Purani Dilli, Sheikh Zayed Road and Purani Dilli Dubai, Mankhool; www.puranidillidubai.com

Have a Diwali staycation

With the festival falling on a weekend, why not treat yourself to an overnight stay? Bab Al Shams Desert Resort is having a staycation offer that includes breakfast at Al Forsan restaurant and a set dinner menu at Masala, the resort’s authentic North Indian restaurant. Guests can enjoy the resort’s desert infinity pool and gym and take in a complimentary falcon show and camel ride experience during their stay.

Friday and Saturday; November 13 and 14; Dh745 for a room, breakfast, set dinner menu for one, with an additional Dh195 for the second person; children under five dine for free and those aged 6-12 get a 50 per cent off; Bab Al Shams Desert Resort; 04 809 6202; BAS.Reservations@meydanhotels.com

Diwali menu at Khyber

Khyber at Dukes The Palm is offering a Diwali set menu for three nights only. Courtesy Khyber

The Dubai outpost of one of Mumbai's most famous North Indian restaurants, Khyber, is offering a set menu for Diwali, available for three nights until Saturday, November 14. From 5pm to 11pm, guests can tuck into indulgent preparations including adraki murgh tikka, sarson mahi tikka, balti meat, maska murgh and more. There will also be a live chaat corner.

Thursday to Saturday, November 12 to 14; 5pm to 11pm; Dh150 per person; 04 455 1111

Diwali gift boxes from Sugargram 

The Diwali-themed gift box from Sugargram. Courtesy Sugargram

What's the festival of lights without sweet treats? Cupcake and cookie company Sugargram is offering limited-edition Diwali gift boxes, perfect to send to friends and family as a treat, even if you can't visit them this year. The box features an assortment of flavours, including a new autumnal classic: pumpkin spice.

Available daily, until Sunday, November 15; Dh125 for 25 bite-size cupcakes or Dh30 for 5 cupcakes; orders can be placed throughout Dubai and Shajrah via Deliveroo and Chatfood

A DIY Diwali meal kit from Vida 

Vida Emirates Hills is now selling Diwali-themed home kits. Courtesy Vida Emirates Hills

Vida Emirates Hills is offering a Diwali home kit for festive snacking. Dubai residents can prep favourites such as pappad with chutney, popcorn with chaat masala and salsa, and deliciously spicy pani puri, plus an assortment of Diwali sweets. The kit costs Dh225 and can feed up to four. Orders must be placed 24 hours in advance. 

Daily, until Saturday, November 14; Dh225; 04 872 8888;  hithere.hills@vidahotels.com

Diwali food discount 

Those celebrating the festival season indoors can take advantage of Zomato’s Festival of Lights promotion. The food delivery app will offer up to 50 per cent off online orders on a minimum spend of Dh20 until Saturday, November 21. The offer is valid on more than 200 Indian and South Asian restaurants in Dubai, including Fusion Amaravathi, 800 Thali and Yummy Hyderabadi. Diners can also get 15 to 40 per cent off in-dining experiences in select restaurants.

Available daily, until Saturday, November 21; www.zomato.com

Diwali celebrations in Ras Al Khaimah

Savour a festive brunch at Hilton Garden Inn

The hotel is celebrating the festival of lights with a one-off "Diwali Desi trunch". Expect a number of popular Indian dishes including pani puri, spicy chaat and gulab jamun, live cooking stations and a DJ spinning chart-topping Bollywood tunes. The brunch will take place outdoors, besides the Hilton Garden Inn pool, giving guests the opportunity to take a dip as they enjoy the festivities.

Friday, November 13; 1pm to 6pm; Dh149 for food and soft drinks, Dh75 for children aged 6 to 12, with those under 6 eating for free; Hilton Garden Inn, Ras Al Khaimah; 07 228 8888; www.hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com