Get funky this New Year - then enjoy a meal deal

Party goers in Abu Dhabi will be able to welcome 2009 in style at the Emirates Palace hotel on New Year's Eve.

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Party goers in Abu Dhabi will be able to welcome 2009 in style at the Emirates Palace hotel on New Year's Eve. La Rumba party zone, which will provide live entertainment before and after the Shakira concert, is hosting an eclectic mix of international DJs. The Boston-based DJ Ali Ajami will be flaunting his renowned improvised style with a mix of cutting-edge funky house and Gaetano Parisio, also known as Gaetek, an Italian maestro, will be playing his unique blend of techno and groove, along with Radio 1 DJs.

"That Shakira is playing in Abu Dhabi is already a massive event for the region, but the fact that we've secured such well-known international DJ names is going to make this New Year's Eve party even bigger," said John Lickrish, the managing director of Flash, the company organising the evening. "We are really excited about the blend of music that will be available on the night, and we look forward to welcoming partygoers to an unforgettable music experience."

Her glamorous mother Salma Hayek often makes Hollywood's best-dressed list, so it is little wonder that her baby Valentina is following in her footsteps. Hayek was furnished with an enormous customised baby hamper worth Dh4,800 (US$1,310) from the gifting suite at the Dubai International Film Festival, which included crystal-studded babygros, stylish bibs and hair accessories. She's just 14 months old, but Valentina is well placed to become a future fashion leader. Her father, François-Henri Pinault, is the chief executive of PPR, which owns Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta.

More evidence the UAE is not escaping the global economic downturn: a popular restaurant in Dubai has begun offering "a credit crunch meal deal". New on the menu at the popular Fish and Chips Room in Dubai's Jumeirah Beach Residence, which is based on a traditional British chippy, is a family-size feast for a bargain Dh99 (US$27).

For that price, anyone feeling the pinch can tuck into a 16-inch pizza with three toppings, two large portions of chips, fish bites, garlic bread and a 1.5-litre bottle of Pepsi. "We already had a munchie box deal on offer and in sympathy with everyone suffering from the recession, decided to introduce the credit crunch deal three weeks ago," said Avtar Sandhu, the restaurant's manager. "The effects are definitely being felt in Dubai. Four of my friends in the construction industry have already lost their jobs. While the food industry has not been affected, everyone has got to eat so we are doing our bit."

Dubai's home-grown animation series Freej is coming to the stage next month. The comedic scrapes of Emirati mothers, stories that have captivated audiences of all ages, will be brought to life in Freej Folklors at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. Lammtara, the company behind the series, said it would be the largest Arab theatrical production in the Middle East. It will run for nine days starting on Jan 8 as part of the Dubai Shopping Festival.

Mohammed Saeed Harib, Lammtara's founder and the production's director, said: "Freej Folklore is a breathtaking combination of dance, music, animation and theatre that presents the audience with a magnificent celebration of Arab culture and history." Tickets, on sale now, are expected to sell out quickly. * The National