Celebrating 35 years of What's On with the man who started it
As Dubai saw in 2014 with a world-record fireworks display, the dawn of this new year also represent another landmark for What’s On, as we celebrated 35 years in the UAE.
This unprecedented achievement in publishing means we have a unique insight to the way things have changed throughout our time. As the nation has grown, so too have we.
Yet what makes What’s On even more special is that still at our core is the man who started the very first entertainment and lifestyle magazine in the UAE, back in 1979.
Managing Partner and Group Editor Ian Fairservice first came to the region for a role in one of the few hotels that existed at the time. But as the popularity of the region increased – along with the range of events for the growing community – he realised that handing out flyers at traffic lights simply wasn’t enough.
And so became What’s On, announcing itself with this less than confident editor’s letter: “Well it’s here – it’s not much, but what do you expect for nothing.”
Back then Sharjah was a destination as ‘happening’ as Dubai, and the cover of our first issue – a vivid hotch-potch of colours and images of action-packed weekend activities across the UAE, and Alice Cooper – reflected just that.
Times have changed, of course, but we’re still here. And so as we enter our 35th year we look back on those early days with Ian, from the celebrity appearances, including a weekend with Muhammad Ali and then the England World Cup winning football team, to his favourite bars, hangouts and hotels.