The most ‘far out’ trends we’ve spotted so far this year…

If you’ve lived in Dubai for any length of time, you learn to expect the unexpected. It’s a city that translates dreams better than any other on earth, has become a magnet for the world’s trendsetters and creatives, and benefits from a consistent, considered governmental push to innovate. All of this means that a) surprise is a buoyant currency here and b) Dubai frequently finds itself at the forefront of new and exciting trends. Ice baths were big in 2022; playing padel, shaving truffle and burrata plate implosions are as popular as ever — but what’s new in 2023? These are just some of the things, that have been trending hard in Dubai so far this year…


This has to be in pole position for leftfield entertainment trends that we really didn’t see coming. It all feels like that era in Dubai, where ‘little people’ started appearing in bars for some still undiagnosed reason. But, in truth, we didn’t go from zero to sumo in a completely unstructured way. It’s the latest stage in the evolution of the ‘dinner and a show’ proliferation that seems to have gripped the Dubai dining scene since the pandemic curve started flattening out. Of these cabernet and cabaret experiences, several Japanese restaurants, with Koyo leading the charge, began putting on kabuki-style shows with geishas and merry blizzards of cherry blossoms. It is then, perhaps, simply natural progression, and with a now established talent pool, 2023 really does feel like the summer of sumo. You can currently catch theatrically appropriated displays of the plus-sized Japanese wrestling format at Koyo, Tabu and apparently, Barasti. Great news if you’re an out of work sumo wrestler or a fan of wedgies. We can’t help wondering what the next stereotypical step is. Samurai displays? Live action anime reboots? Origami workshops? It certainly doesn’t feel like we’ve said sayonara to the Tokyo fever dream just yet.


Spain’s number one rice based culinary export is currently enjoying a hot minute in the Dubai sun. It’s 2023’s NFT except they’re fully fungible and taste a lot better than a jpeg. Paellas are part of the signature offerings at recent restaurant openings, Tagomago and Jaleo By Jose Andres – they’ve also made a stage entrance in the capital, on the menu at José by Pizarro. And why not? There’s a strong synergy between Spanish and Middle Eastern cuisine, not least because of shared threads of heritage. As early as the eighth century, Arab settlers have occupied significant swathes of the Iberian mainland, with influences on language, place names, architecture and food — still poetically observable today. And what is Tapas if not mezze with a sultry Spanish accent? What is paella if not a deliciously paprika-y mandi?

Puppy yoga

We’re absolutely refusing to make the obvious downward dog pun here, so if you’ve come for that, you’ll have to nama-stay unsatisfied. But seriously dog yoga is now ‘a thing’ in Dubai – inviting you to flex with fido and pull poses with puppers. We have to be clear, this is not ‘a bring your own pooch’ situation – the inevitable canine battle royal would likely harshen even the most zen of mellows. Instead, these events tend to have their own set of ‘good boys and girls’, who are free to scamper and play whilst the sweaty-faced stretching goes on around them. Like a Dalmatian, Dubai puppy yoga classes have been ‘spotted’ at SLS’s Ciel Spa, and the Stray Dogs Centre. We’d like to see this trend broadening out to become more inclusive – parrot pilates, cat calisthenics, or for a proper Dubai flex – cross fit with your falcon.

Grilled pineapple

Pineapple on pizza is out. It’s never been in if you ask us, but it’s pineapple on grills that’s the current 2023 trend the kids are going crazy for. This, typically Brazillian, dish is as simple as it sounds – fire, pineapple, brown sugar and maybe a little cinnamon for a spicy razzle dazzle finish. It’s doing the rounds in churrascarias, steakhouses and edgy eateries across the emirate (for example Chamas, Dinner by Heston (pictured above), Hell’s Kitchen, and Hawkerboi) and it beats the juicy fondant mush out of the British party staple of pineapple and cheese on cocktail sticks.

Ugg Boots


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Gen Z is currently giving big late 90s and early 00s fashion energy, and one aspect of that, however unlikely in the middle of a desert, is the iconic fleeced footwear of yester year – Ugg Boots. You know the ones, tan ankle boots with the fur, apple bottom jeans entirely optional, and having adorned the feet of anybody who was anybody in the early 2000s. Already having gone through one full cycle of cool-to-cringe, they’ve now been pulled out of the nostalgia fashion bin, dusted off and have a surprisingly large footprint amongst the UAE’s edge-courters. Pair them with a bikini for a statement look.

The return of Palm Jebel Ali

Palm Jebel Ali isn’t new, the manmade collection of islands set out in that signature Nakheel Palm fashion has been sitting off the coast of the Dubai port district in a state of semi-completion since 2002. But with development halted in 2009, at least partly in response to the global financial wobbles, there hasn’t been a whole lot of action on this artful archipelago. Until now. HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai unveiled the masterplan of the Palm Jebel Ali on May 31, 2023, which will see the destination transformed with hotels, beaches, residential and leisure attractions. It’s part of a wider Dubai beaches masterplan, set to see the public beaches across the city increase by 400 per cent. Proving yet again Duabi really is a world leader when it comes to making fronds, and influencing people.

Images: What’s On archive/Unsplash (Karsten Winegeart and Darcey Beau)/Instagram