Dubai has a number of festivals and events throughout the year for expats to enjoy. It is a great chance to meet other expats, mingle with Emiratis and enjoy the beautiful weather.
Here are some of our favourite events on the Dubai calendar that expats can look forward to.
Annual events in Dubai
Dubai Shopping Festival (January/February)
A serious treat for anyone who loves to shop, the retail capital of Dubai comes to life each year when the annual extravaganza of shopping and entertainment sees millions of visitors descend upon the city from other emirates and beyond. With massive sales across all of Dubai’s epic shopping centres, it really is a great time to get in some retail therapy. Along with bargain deals, the city also comes alive with concerts, laser and firework shows, children’s entertainment and much else.
Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon (January)
Except perhaps for the Rugby Sevens, this is Dubai’s most anticipated annual sporting event. With three types of races, including a 3km fun run for beginners, a 10km and 50km marathon for 18-year-olds and over, the race draws thousands of participants and even more spectators every year. Expats should ready their running gear or dust off their supporters hats, and join in the fun.
Dubai International Jazz Festival (February/March)
Taking place over 10 days and held at the stunning Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, the Dubai Jazz Fest is a must for new arrivals to the emirate. The event’s line ups get more star-studded every year with big stars gracing the stage and performing to thousands of adoring fans. Great music, relaxed seating and a beautiful setting make for a truly memorable experience.
Dubai Food Festival (February/March)
One for the foodies, the Dubai Food Festival is sure to tantalise taste buds and delight palates. Inspiring and exciting, the event attracts thousands of hungry visitors every year with main attractions such as the flagship Etisalat Beach Canteen, Dubai Restaurant Week and Taste of Dubai. Visitors are treated to major restaurant discounts, cooking demos and even meet-and-greets with their favourite celebrity chefs.
Dubai World Cup (March)
Even for those who are not interested in horse racing, the Dubai World Cup is a great way for new expats to socialise and meet people. First held in 1996, the event has just grown in popularity, and is known as the world’s richest horse race, with a staggering pot of USD 10 million. Fashion meets sports at this suave soiree, so dress to the nines and enjoy a day socialising among Dubai’s most glamorous.
Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr (April/May)
Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar when Muslims fast from dawn till dusk. The end of Ramadan is marked by Eid al-Fitr, a three-day feast, which is one of the biggest celebrations in Dubai.
Dubai Fitness Challenge (October/November)
Launched in 2017 by HH. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, this event inspires residents to live healthier by participating in 30 minutes of exercise over 30 days. The entire city picks up the gauntlet and turns into a fitness mecca with free fitness classes and events taking place across the emirate.
Dubai Design Week (November)
One of the most anticipated events in the design community and attracting more than 60,000 visitors from the UAE and beyond, Dubai Design Week celebrates the emirate’s creative community through exhibitions, events and installations all over the city. Creative and non-creative expats alike are sure to be inspired during this week-long feast for the senses.
Dubai Rugby Sevens (December)
The longest-running sports event in Dubai and one of the biggest parties on the calendar, the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens heralds the opening of the IRB Sevens World Series. Sixteen of the world’s best international rugby teams take part in this tournament, which has become one of the most popular in the Middle East and attracts fans of the sport from all over the world to the spectacular The Sevens Stadium in Dubai.
►See Public Holidays in the UAE for a list of when to plan weekend breaks
Are you an expat living in Dubai?
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