You know that moment on a Thursday afternoon when your work buddy asks what you’re doing this weekend and your mind goes blank? Well worry no more, friends, because What’s On has the perfect solution, whatever mood you are in.


Check out the latest movie trailers and cinema listings of films being release in Dubai this weekend. Click here.

Art Dubai, the leading international art fair in the Middle East/North Africa/South Asia launches its eighth edition on Wednesday March 19. Now a major player in the region’s art community, it welcomed 25,000 visitors last year and looks let to grow on the 75 galleries from 30 countries  again this time around. Running from March 19-22 at Madinat Jumeriah, it offers live performances as and projects as well as the traditional stand-and-stare galleries. We’ve compiled your definitive guide, complete with interviews with major players, and hints and tips on ‘art speak’ and getting the most of the four-day festival.

Art Dubai lead image

One of cinema’s most iconic costume pieces has been given a makeover by artists for a new Dubai exhibition. Artists including the British visionary Damien Hirst have put their personal stamp on the Stormtrooper helmet from the Star Wars movies. Hirst covered the helmet with his trademark coloured spots for the Art Wars exhibition which first appeared at London’s Saatchi Gallery in October 2013. Fans of pop art and Star Wars can now see the helmets, plus others by 20 local artists and more international talents, at an exhibition in the Bloomingdale Atrium at The Dubai Mall from Thursday March 20. The helmets will then go on display at Comic Con, at the World Trade Centre from April 3 to 5, before being put up for auction on April 5. As with much of his work during his stellar career, Hirst’s piece is expected to be sold for big bucks.

Dance music royalty is in Dubai this weekend for a monster show on Atlantis The Palm. Carl Cox ends his seven-year hiatus from the UAE takimg to the decks at Atlantis Beach on Friday March 21 for a show that will last a combined NINE hours for 9,000 people. Also on the bill are Gilles Peterson and Yousef.

Read our interview with Gilles Peterson right here.
Read our interview with Yousef right here.
Read our profile on the legendary Carl Cox right here.

Carl Cox in Dubai

Live @ Atlantis, Atlantis Beach, Atlantis The Palm, Dubai. Dhs200, 6pm to 3am. Taxi: Atlantis The Palm.

Five handpicked finalists from hordes of hopefuls will battle it out on Thursday March 20 to claim the title of DJ champ in Topman Middle East’s quest to find the best undiscovered DJ in the region. See the finalists – KaBo, Frank Fu, Ejaz, Rishi and Chris Smith – in action when the competition heats up at the in-store final, taking place in Topman Mirdif City Centre, on Thursday, at 6pm. The winner will claim DJ kit of their choice to the tune of Dhs4,000, plus a Dhs1,500 spending spree in Topman. Bodypopper – and YouTube sensation – Marquese ‘Nonstop’ Scott (below) is being flown in from the States to open and close the competition with jaw-dropping perfomances.

Topman, Mirdif City Centre, Dubai, Thursday, 6pm to 8.30pm, free. Metro: Rashidiya and then bus to Mirdif City Centre

New party Cassland aims to recreate that house party vibe – quite literally! Promoter and DJ Rishi, who previously lived in the UK, explained: “Our old house in Cassland Road, East London, was well known for holding many parties and after-parties with some of the hottest DJs around East London and Romania providing the music, and this is what we want to create in ‘our house’ Cassland.” With a tech-house music policy, Cassland is aimed at “a distinctive edgy crowd” and will pit Romanian DJs against their UK counterparts. Romanian DJ and Club Midi club promoter K!d Chriss (pictured) launches the party on Friday, ably supported by Rishi and Eric Francis. Oh, and it’s Rishi’s birthday too, so this could get messy.

Story Rooftop Lounge, behind Zayed University, Dubai Media City, Friday, 8pm to 3am, free before 10pm, Dhs70 after. Tel: (056) 7893897. Metro: Nakheel. 

A unique theatrical show featuring 41 horses, 36 performers and a giant video screen has arrived in Dubai from March 20 to 29 after a hugely successful stint in Abu Dhabi. Created by the masterminds behind Cirque du Soleil, Cavalia sees horses interacting with dancers, aerialists, acrobats and musicians in front of a huge 60 metre wide screen that shows an ever changing backdrop to tell a dramatic story. This combination of animal, human, music and technology is the first show of its kind to come to the UAE and was part of the annual Qasr al Hosn Festival in February. The show, which has already played in North America, Europe and Australia to great acclaim, is the brainchild of Cirque du Soleil’s co-founder Normand Latourelle. Read more here.

White Big Top to Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai. from Dhs250

Toolroom Records boss Mark Knight’s name will be popping up in Dubai’s club listings on a regular basis after the UK DJ and producer signed up for a monthly residency in the city. Knight fans can work themselves into a lather when he scrubs up for his new residency at S.O.A.P, the Friday night party at Bur Dubai high-end nightclub People By Crystal. Kicking off on March 21, Mark will appear once a month at the venue for the next eight months, although his dates are somewhat fluid.

Mark Knight at People By Crystal

People By Crystal, Raffles Hotel, Friday, 11pm to 3am, free. Tel: (050) 2972097. Taxi: Raffles

Tie those trunk strings tight  – as a major diving tournament splashes down in Dubai from March 20 to 22. The UAE Swimming Federation this month hosts the annual FINA World Diving Championship, with men competing in four categories of three-metre springboard and ten-metre platform in both solo and synchronised diving. The Dubai event is the second leg of a tour that visits Beijing, London, Moscow, Windsor (Canada) and Monterey (Mexico). Watch British star Tom Daley renew his Olympic ten-metre platform rivalry with American David Boudia and China’s Qiu Bo.

Hamdan Sports Complex, Dubai Bypass Road, Dubai, Dhs20. Tel: (04) 2648717. Taxi: Hamdan Sports Complex.

The much-loved children’s book about a mouse and a monster has been adapted for the Dubai stage. Published in 1999, the book has sold more than 11m copies, generating more than Dhs360 million… and that’s after it sat in a drawer for a year at the publishers house. It was was recently voted the best bedtime story of all time by BBC radio listeners in 2009, and British children’s second favourite book character, behind Harry Potter. You can catch this magical tale on stage at Madinat Theatre on March 21 and 22.

Gruffalo at Madinat Theatre

Madinat Theatre, Dubai. Dhs140.  Tel: (04) 3666 546. Taxi: Madinat Jumeirah.

The Dubai World Cup is just around the corner and the clamour for dresses is hotting up around town. But you don’t have to blow your monthly pay cheque to ensure you look the part, with the Fashion Collective Market at Century Village hosting the brilliant My Ex Wardrobe and their trunk-loads of options for last-minute shoppers. Over 15 other vendors selling fashion, jewellery, and lifestyle products means even those organised ones of you can find something here, in the great outdoors. And we know shopping builds up an appetite, so guests can eat in any of the seven different restaurants for Dhs100; that gets you a two-course meal with two glasses of wine.  The market takes place from 1pm to 5pm this Saturday March 22.

The man they call ‘The Persian Elvis’ is bringing his stage show to Nasimi Beach on Thursday March 20 and Friday March 21 to welcome Norouz (Persian New Year). Andy Madadian has played to sold-out venues all over the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, Russia and the Middle East, and is known beyond the borders of his homeland for having recently recorded ‘Stand by Me’ with Jon Bon Jovi, a track which has garnered 7million YouTube hits. He has also appeared in films alongside the likes of Sir Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly and Vanessa Redgrave. 

Andy Madadian

Nasimi Beach, Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai. Dhs275. Taxi: Atlantis, The Palm.

Do you know your Skandi from your Shaker? Is your Eames coffee table piled high with books on design and décor? Then you’ll already be familiar with Design Days Dubai – a five-day feast of unique furniture and collectibles from galleries all over the world that has returned to Dubai for the third year. The event isn’t just for design buffs, and even if you’re not in the market for new furniture, the Design Days programme also features workshops, live performances and screenings, as well as ample eye candy for those who simply enjoy admiring beautiful things. Check out our complete guide by clicking here.

Industrial gallery at Design Days Dubai

The Venue, Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown, Dubai, Mar 17 to 20 4pm to 10pm; Mar 21 1pm to 7pm, Dhs50. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall.

You don’t have to own a stable full of Arabian steeds to enjoy this event which runs from March 20 to 22 – it’s open to horse riders and ordinary enthusiasts too. See equestrian firms from around the globe showcase their wares and catch pony show jumping, dressage and an Arabian horse auction.

Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai. Tel: (04) 3086478. Metro: World Trade Centre.

Christie’s, the iconic auction house from the UK will host a spring sale of watches on March 20, continuing their excellent relationship with the region that stretches back almost a decade. The auction will take place at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel and will be led by Patek Philippe’s iconic reference 5971 – a great horological secret as no more than 10 versions were produced. The emerald-set reference 5971 is one of the most lavish, sophisticated dials ever made as it is fitted with 42 emeralds weighing approx. 3.33 carats. The example in the sale is virtually unworn and is estimated at Dhs 1million. We’ve compiled a handy guide to buying at auction, which you should check out here.

Career-long retrospective of the Palestinian-born, US-based artist. A leading proponent of abstraction, Halaby is known for her bold use of colour and vivid brushwork, which is strongly rooted in Islamic art. This exhibition features 50 of her works, including sculpture and computer-generated kinetic works. A rather splendid overview of a brilliant career that is supported by a hefty and impressively illustrated publication of the same name.

Samia Halaby, Art Dubai

Ayyam Gallery Dubai, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Dubai, free. Tel: (04) 3236242.

This is the first UAE outing for Slavs And Tatars, an acclaimed international collective of artists devoted to the art, culture and history of “an area east of the Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China” – a not-entirely modest geographical mass that includes our beloved Middle East. This show opens in parallel with the group’s debut at Art Dubai and looks at the use of language in visual arts – a key theme within their practice. This clever swathe of artists has exhibited to international acclaim everywhere from London’s Frieze Art Fair to MoMA in New York. Now it’s our turn.

Language Arts, Art Dubai

The Third Line, Street 6, Al Quoz 3, Dubai, free. Tel: (04) 3411367.

There’s a hint of 1990s dance culture and a dash of pop art in the smiley faces of Robert Hammond’s art. But there’s something beyond the surface of these shiny shapes, made up of  layer of metal, glass and acrylic. Look closely and you’ll see they’re not so simple after all.

Art Sawa, Gate Village, DIFC, Dubai, free. Tel: (04) 3862366. Metro: Financial Centre.

Cyrine Abdelnour will be making an exclusive appearance at Central Galleria, Mirdif City Centre at 6pm on Saturday March 22, meeting with fans and sharing some of her own personal style tips with fans, in what is another installment of the centre’s Spring Fashion campaign. The popular star released her first album, Leila Min Layali, in 2004 having already enjoyed success both musically an on screen, starring in Arabic TV shows and films since the late 1990s.

With worldwide sales of 15 million records to her name, Ashanti is certainly a name most will be familiar with. The American R&B star will perform at Supperclub’s new Chocolate night, a week after Fabolous followed the success of launch night when two-time Grammy Award winner T-Pain and Chicago rapper Twista rocked the house. Her single Never Should Have won Best Independent R&B/Soul Performance at the 2013 Soul Train Awards. The night itself is aimed directly at hip hop and R&B fans and will welcome Estelle next week. 

Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel, West Crescent, The Palm, Dubai, Fridays, 10pm to 3am, Dhs295. Tel: (04) 4511100. Taxi to Jumeirah Zabeel Saray.


Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE will host a day of fashion and glamour alongside its traditional brunch on Saturday, with models taking to the catwalk to showcase the latest work of some of regions top designers, including Najul, Carizzi, Meeks Boutique, Kaleidoscope and Michelle Belau. The food and drinks options include Mediterranean dishes and free flowing Spanish sangria taken either on a beach bed or table, with music provided by the coolest spinners in town.

Ghantoot Al Jazira Island Hotel, Dubai, Saturday, 1pm to 11pm, Dhs295. Tel: (056) 1133400. Taxi: Ghantoot Al Jazira.

The world’s most expensive coffee has gone on sale in Dubai, at ICONS Coffee Couture, in Souk Al Bahar, priced at Dhs180 for two cups. ‘Kopi Luwak’, an aromatic, civet coffee, hails from the Indonesian island of Sumatra and, we are told, ‘is sourced under fair conditions with a lot of respect for animals and the environment’. Before you try it, though, have a read of exactly what goes into making it. Click here to find out.

Production of the Kopi Luwak in Indonesia

ICONS Coffee Couture, Souk Al Bahar, Downtown, Dubai. Tel: (04) 323 7100. Metro: Dubai Mall. Taxi: Souk Al Bahar.

Dubai Marina’s most exciting new bar has thrown open its doors at Pier 7. Cargo, with its feel of a bustling harbour-side eatery, proudly positions itself as being ‘reminiscent of 1960s Hong Kong. With its roots firmly planted in East-Asian culture, Cargo is a laid back restaurant and lounge bringing the rawness and spice of the East to new Dubai. Think shipping crates, raw steel, concrete and weathered wood interiors, looking out onto impressive views of the Marina.

Our cameras were at the special launch party last week, so check it out for yourself.

Cargo, Dubai Marina, launch party

Pier 7, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily 6pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 3618129. Metro: Dubai Marina.

A trendy cocktail bar-come-restaurant serving French-Indian fusion has launched a brunch on Friday and Saturday. Heavy on the glass and dark-wood, there is little to allude to the excellent food that is served, which is a la carte and kicks off with eight taster portions followed by six set main courses. Indian fans will thoroughly enjoy the French fusion of a menu which is inspired by cuisine from the south-east Indian port of Pondicherry. An extensive cocktail selection, each and every one a conversation starter, also appeals.

La Porte des Indes, Address Dubai Mall, Dubai, brunch served noon to 12.30pm-3.30pm, Dhs295 with soft drinks, Dhs395 with house drinks and Dhs495 with champage. Tel: (04) 4388610.

Floating on a pier with views of the Burj Al Arab, Pierchic is a night time kind of restaurant. Twinkly lights, lapping waves, and a walk along the wooden boardwalk to reach it, add up to an experience that is tailor made for romance after dark. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore this beautifully-set restaurant in the daytime. Now there’s a good excuse to try Pierchic in the sunshine with the launch of their new seafood brunch. Among the mains at this a la carte brunch are halibut and cod but two sautéed tiger prawns on saffron risotto with asparagus are a most tantalising option as well. 


 Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, Fri 12.30pm to 3.30pm, Dhs695 with champagne, cocktails and house beverages, Dhs550 with soft drinks. Tel: (04) 3666730. Taxi: Madinat Jumeirah.

Balance Café has unveiled a range of new healthy take-out dishes for the lunchtime crowd. Wraps, sandwiches, soups and salads have ben added to the menu, which lists the nutritional values of all of its meals. Our favourites were the chicken tikka wrap and the organic chickpea and quinoa salad. 

Balance Café, 3rd floor, Oasis Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Quoz, daily 11am to 10pm. Tel: (04) 5154051. Taxi: Oasis Centre.é

A very white, very pretty café at the shiny new Citywalk complex in Jumeirah, which is getting so much hype it needs a Hollywood agent. It’s a casual offshoot of the city’s hugely successful BiCE restaurants. The pastries, baked fresh on the premises, are out of this world. It’s open all day and the rotisserie chicken looked good for lunch, but we stuck to breakfast. If you want eggs that are a break from the norm, the Latin style eggs with guacamole and salsa will wake up the taste buds. Add a string of friendly Italian staff who like to talk loud in Italian and Sapori di BiCE is somewhere that has gone straight into our black book of favourite places to eat.

Sapori di Bice

Citywalk, Jumeirah, Dubai, daily 8am to 11pm. Tel: (04) 3442550. Taxi: Citywalk.


Renting a board and taking lessons is currently banned on Dubai’s open beaches, so you’ll need your own equipment. Alternatively, head to Wadi Adventure in Al Ain and learn to surf in an artificial surf pool. Yes, the UAE has yet again defied nature, with a self-contained mini-sea in the middle of the desert. The clever pool creates height-adjustable waves up to 3.3metres, every 90 seconds. You won’t find a better beginners’ wave in all the seven seas. And it’s shark-free too. Phew. For an easier ride, try bodyboarding, which is essentially surfing on a shorter board lying face down. How much? Park admission Dhs50, one hour surf lesson Dhs150.

Wadi Adventure, Al Ain, Sun to Thur 11am to 8pm, Fri and Sat 10am to 8pm, Tel: (03) 7818422. Taxi: Al Ain.

Are you a commitment-phobe when it comes to handing over cash for a whole season of classes? Budding ballerinas can now take advantage of drop-in ballet classes at the James And Alex Dance Studio and pay per class. Led by expert ballet instructor Aimeé Despres, the class is suitable for total beginners and intermediate levels. The class starts with stretching exercises at the ballet barre. We struggled to remember our left from our right but gave it a go and soon discovered that ballet is a whole lot trickier than it looks on stage. Next came some fancy floor work followed by jumps, which raised a few smiles as we failed to land as gracefully as hoped. The hour-long class is guaranteed to have you sweating by the end and the day after we had some serious twinges. But it’s a great workout and a good alternative to the gym. Leotard optional.

Ballet classes

Concord Tower, Dubai Media City, Dubai, Sat 10.30 to 11.30am, Dhs65. Tel: (04) 4470773. Taxi: Lime Tree Café.

If you want to get in shape quickly without the commitment of a restrictive contract, get yourself down to Platform 3. Instead of binding agreements, P3 offers pay-as-you-go sessions – including military boot camps and circuits – with personal trainers, and has no more than six people working out in the studio at any one time. It’s all about undivided attention – so slacking off at the back of the class is not an option. The most striking feature of the small, modern space is that the windows face the street, exposing your red-faced exertions to passers by. During a session with a P3 trainer, you could find yourself skipping, squatting, or even scaling the climbing wall – all in full view of JBR.

Park Island, Dubai Marina, Dubai, Sat to Thur 6am to 10pm. Tel: (04) 4358083. Metro: Dubai Marina.