Summer in the UAE: 9 things to do in Dubai and Abu Dhabi this July

From markets to food festivals, and free films to craft workshops

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Summer is truly here, but there is still plenty happening in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Here are nine things we're looking forward to in the UAE this July.

1. Fourth of July celebrations and food

We don’t have to miss out on America’s Independence Day here in the UAE, as plenty of venues are launching offers to mark July 4. Dubai’s The Blacksmith Smokehouse is serving a four-hour feast (from Dh219) complete with US favourites, such as brisket, mac and cheese and apple pie, with a soundtrack of all-Americana classics. Perry & Blackwelder’s at Souk Madinat Jumeirah is offering an all-day breakfast (from Dh85) of ribs, wings, nachos and sliders – to name a few – plus there will be film screenings and live music from local band Chronicles of Khan.

And it wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without some pie, so order the limited-edition blueberry and cherry varieties (from Dh95) via Deliveroo from Clinton St Baking Company to round off the occasion.

2. Summer-long passes for Green Planet and Motiongate

Temperatures might be high, but prices across the UAE are being slashed for summer – in shops, hotels and major attractions. Love animals? Then head to The Green Planet, which has just launched a new summer pass for UAE residents, offering unlimited entry to Dubai’s indoor rainforest bio-dome. From July 1 until September 30, if you buy your pass at the gate you'll pay Dh265 for children and Dh295 for adults.

Motiongate Dubai has done a similar thing – until September 14 you can upgrade your one-day park ticket to a summer pass for free, with unrestricted entry to the park all season.

3. Arthouse cinema in Abu Dhabi: Cinem’Art at Louvre 

The Invention Of Hugo Cabret
A still from Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo'. Courtesy Paramount Pictures 

The second season of Cinem’Art is coming to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a mini film festival that shows new and classic movies inspired by artworks.

The festival is running weekly on Wednesdays throughout July, from July 3 to 31. On July 3 see Julian Schnabel's At Eternity's Gate (2018), a film about Vincent van Gogh's life, inspired by the Dutch artist's The Dance Hall in Arles (1887). On July 10, the museum will show Martin Scorsese's Hugo (2011), inspired by George Melies' A Trip to the Moon (1902). The third film will be shown shown on July 17, Todd Douglas Miller's Apollo 11 (2019), which coincides with the mission's 50th anniversary on July 16 this year. The screening is inspired by Muhamad Ibn Ahmad Al-Buttuti's Astrolabe.

On July 24 see Youssef Chahine's The Land / Al Ard (1969), an Arabic film inspired by Tablet inscribed with pictograms. Finally, on July 31 see Scorsese's Kundun (1997), which tells the story of the Dalai Lama and is inspired by Head of Buddha from China. Screenings start at 6pm on Wednesdays throughout July, and entry to the screenings is free. Call Louvre Abu Dhabi on 600 565 566 to book, 

4. Dubai Design District: eat your way around the world…

… Without leaving the UAE. Dubai Design District is hosting its first-ever restaurant week, running until July 6, with eight eateries in the artistic, high-style suburb taking part.

The initiative has been launched to celebrate d3’s independent chefs, cafes and restaurants, with the participating venues releasing specially curated menus and one-off dishes to mark the occasion. Expect Japanese fare from Akiba Dori, the alleyway-inspired venue that serves up traditional dishes alongside street food and Tokyo-style pizza, while Chez Charles will be plating up elegant French cuisine. Also signing up for the flavour-filled week is Indian restaurant Mohalla, Mediterranean favourite The Lighthouse, Italian hot spot Larte and gourmet choice Molecule, which focuses on creative, international dishes crafted with seasonal produce. Japanese restaurant Frame and wholesome cafe-cum-restaurant One Life round out the venues taking part.

If you dine at d3 the whole week, you’ll just about be able to fit every menu in (time-wise, if not stomach-space-wise; our belts are already feeling tight at the thought of it). The prices for set menus range from Dh99 Dh150, depending on the venue.

5. Arthouse cinema in Dubai

We like a big blockbuster as much as anyone, but there are some fantastic independent films and documentaries coming to the UAE this month – and with activities mostly relegated to the air-conditioned indoors, now’s the time to watch them.

We're already booking tickets to see Pavarotti (showing at Vox and Reel Cinemas), the biopic of the opera superstar by Oscar-winning director Ron Howard. The film explores everything from the tenor's childhood to his philanthropic work, with the trailer alone making for tear-jerking watching.

Dubai's Cinema Akil is also screening Jia Zhang-k's Ash is Purest White, a critically acclaimed drama about a couple separated by gang crime and a prison sentence, and Turkish Palme d'Or competitor The Wild Pear Tree, which follows an aspiring writer impacted by his father's debts.

6. Warehouse421 workshops in Abu Dhabi

Courtesy Warehouse421
Courtesy Warehouse421

As part of the Summer Club: The Making Edition, Warehouse421 is hosting a series of workshops led by local artisans and crafters from July 2 to July 20. Learn about macramé and make your own plant hanger using cotton rope and terracotta pots; marble paper and create a unique pattern; make handmade paper from recycled scraps; learn about the perfumed incense dhukoon; make tote bags decorated with your own illustration; take part in a three-day leather workshop and create three bespoke items; learn the Palestinian embroidery craft tatreez; and screenpaint step-by-step, from drawing images to printing on paper and fabric. The classes start from Dh80. 

7. UAE-wide: The Laughter Factory's latest 

Courtesy The Laughter Factory 
Courtesy The Laughter Factory 

Have you been to The Laughter Factory lately? Catch a show on the So Far Out! It's In! Tour, which features three top international comedians at shows in Abu Dhabi and Dubai between July 11 and July 19.

Stuart Mitchell brings his edgy comedy; Cory Michaelis (pictured) delivers a dose of charm and showmanship; and Canadian Allyson June Smith returns to the UAE with her brand of woman power. Tickets start from Dh160 and venues include Park Rotana, Abu Dhabi; Movenpick JBR, Grand Millennium Barsha Heights, Arabian Ranches Golf Club, Tryp by Wyndham, Dukes Dubai, Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, Dubai.

Jason Manford is also coming to the UAE this summer. The British comedian, known for his stints on TV shows 8 Out of 10 Cats and What Would Your Kid Do? is performing on at Dubai's Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, from 9pm on July 25; Abu Dhabi's Park Rotana, from 9pm on July 26.

8 Dubai markets: night flea market and weekend craft market 

On Friday July 5, from 6pm to 10pm, Zabeel Park will transform into a flea market. Perfect for shoppers who want to bag a serious bargain (be prepared to haggle). Find more information on the website.

Expect crowds, here are some photos from last year (click to play):

Then, on Friday July 12 and Friday July 26, Times Square, the unassuming mall on Sheikh Zayed Road, will turn into the ARTE Makers Market, from 10am to 6pm.

You will meet plenty of local artisans if you head down here, selling their crafts, jewellery, food and more.

And, on Friday July 19, from 10am to 10pm, you will find the classic food-focused Ripe Market at Springs Souk in Emirates Living.

9. 'Smoked and raw' food at Dubai's Al Serkal 

Smoked and raw food will be served
Smoked and raw food will be served

Inked in Al Serkal is hosting a 'smoked and raw' dinner experience from chef Hadrien Villedieu from July 6 to July 11. Dinner starts each night, at 8.30pm sharp, and will be five courses (priced at Dh350 per person).

Other events happening at Al Serkal this month include bingo brunches, community drumming circles and meditative art. Head to the website for more info.

And, if you want to stay at home, here's what's new to Netflix 

'Orange is the New Black' returns to Netflix on July 26. Courtesy Netflix 

There are plenty of new shows and movies coming to Netflix this July. Series highlights include the return of Stranger Things with a third season premiering on July 4; season two of Working Moms which is arriving on the streaming site on July 25; the seventh season of Orange is the New Black, which lands on July 26. That isn't all, clime flick Point Blank will be available to watch July 12, and comedian Katherine Ryan's Glitter Room comes on July 1.