From pop and jazz concerts to mega raffles, the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) has unveiled an action-packed schedule of over 150 events for its landmark 15th edition, its organisers, the Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment, said yesterday.
To be held over 32 days from January 28 to February 28, the event will showcase the best of previous editions in an attempt to make this year's instalment memorable. All its activities will be themed around its core aspects of shopping, winning and entertainment.
Headlining the festivities are performances from Grammy-nominated rockers Nickelback and English rock band Status Quo, who perform on February 5 and 6, respectively, as part of Gulf Bike Week at Dubai Festival City. The week will kick-start on February 4 and sees thrill-seekers on two wheels come roaring into town from around the region for the unveiling of mean new machines, stunt shows and freestyle demos.
Jamaican-American reggae fusion singer Sean Kingston follows in their wake on February 11, performing his hit Beautiful Girl as part of a set of tracks that are not quite as well known. But Arab heartthrob Tamer Hosny, who performs at Dubai Media City on January 29, will have no such problem: the million-selling Egyptian's hits, such as Habibi Wenta B'eed, Arrab Habibi and Ya Bent El Aich, have won him fans beyond the Arabic community.
Bollywood lovers will no doubt line up for playback singer Sunidhi Chauhan's show at the Madinat Arena on February 18.
And there is strong competition for your concert budget from the Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival, which runs from February 10 to 19, with top acts such as The Brand New Heavies, David Gray and James Morrison leading a field of talent. A prelude to the event, the World of Jazz, is being organised at The Walk in the Jumeirah Beach Residence area from February 3 to 9.
For those with limited resources to spend on entertainment in these recession-tinged times, the DSF brings its trademark festivities back to the emirate's roads, particularly areas such as Al Seef, Dhiyafah and Rigga, where some 150 stilt-walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and musicians will lay on free entertainment on weekends.
There will also be plenty of fireworks, both at the opening ceremony and every day afterwards, with shows at 8.30pm at the Al Seef area of Dubai Creek.
Expect a fair amount for children, too: The Little Big Club Show runs from February 5 to 12 at the Dubai Airport Expo and features 14 popular children's characters, including Barney the dinosaur, Postman Pat, Bob the Builder and Pingu the anthropomorphic penguin. The Power of the Omnitrix, a stage show based on the American television series Ben 10, brings the animated story to the UAE from February 19. Ninety minutes long, it is an entirely new production that combines plotlines from Ben 10 and Ben 10 Alien Force, features 14 characters and introduces two new kinds of aliens.
The DSF Family Camp by Watani in the Al Warqa'a area capitalises on the splendid outdoor weather at the moment, so families can rent out tents and organise barbecues. Activities at the camp include camel and horse rides, quad biking and a traditional souk.
In other events, the Family Health Festival returns to city malls, while Blood Brothers, the third longest running show at London's West End, brings the tale of twins separated at birth to Dubai with shows at the First Group Theatre from January 28.
For those new to Dubai, the DSF also provides an insight into the region's heritage, particularly at the Khor Dubai or Dubai Creek area, home to the Heritage and Diving Village, old Bastakiya, the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk. A highlight will be the Al Seef area, which will host numerous art displays over the DSF.
The annual Carpet Oasis also returns to the Dubai Airport Expo, featuring rare rugs and carpets from around the world.
Much of the DSF's appeal, however, comes from the spectacular prizes it offers. This year, that's a whopping 80 cars and Dh3 million in cash. Dh450,000 in cash and cars is being given away every day in the Lexus Mega Raffle – or Dh16m in cash and cars over the month, including four custom version of the Lexus LX 570 encrusted with diamonds weighing five carats. Tickets are Dh200 each and only 5,000 tickets are sold every day. Prizes in the Nissan Mega Raffle include more than 40 Nissan SUVs and sedans. Shoppers are given a raffle coupon on spending Dh25 at select outlets.
Perhaps most important of all are the annual sales promotions at the heart of the shopping festival. This year, say organisers, some 6,000 retail outlets and 40 malls are taking part, with many offering as much as 80 per cent off branded merchandise. This follows on from last year, when the recession prompted retailers to roll out steep, never-before discounts – a tactic that meant overall consumer spending declined only about two per cent.
About 3.35 million visitors spent approximately Dh9.8 billion over the 32 days of DSF 2009, the DEPE said. The figures represent a 4.6 per cent increase in visitors and a two per cent decrease in spending over the previous year.
Finally, those looking to get their teeth into something more substantial can take a bite from the biggest biryani bowl, being cooked up at Global Village, which is one of the DSF's event associates, on February 12. Nearly 2.5 tonnes will be served up, organisers say – and there are promises of free handouts for everyone.
Tickets for most events are on sale. For details, ring Ahlan Dubai, 600 545 555
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