Summer of wonder - Emirates24|7

Summer of wonder

School's out and you know what that means in this city: a season full of Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS). The countdown has already begun for the 11th edition of DSS, which runs from June 19 until August 22, and even though it has been cut short this year, it hasn't lessened the excitement.

Deciding the biggest event this summer is probably a hard split between Latino superstar Enrique Iglesias in concert and the Dh9 million in total cash prizes that can be won. However, for Dubai's booming economy the major attraction is the estimated consumer spending that is set to break all records this season. DSS officials revealed to Emirates Business that an anticipated 20 per cent to 25 per cent increase in consumer spending will take 2007's figure of Dh3.21 billion to at least Dh3.9bn in 2008.

For an event with a total budget of Dh85m, the returns are certainly going to keep the festival in the black. A large part of this can be attributed to the increase in tourism figures, with DSS 2008 expected to attract nearly 2.3 million visitors – a 10 per cent jump from last year.

But the statistics aren't the only thing changing as the DSS turns 11 years old. A revamped festival does away with the ever-changing weekly Surprises to present "Tens of Surprises". A new event will be held every alternate day, so visitors can expect a refreshing display of entertainment over the 65 days.

Some of the highlights for 2008 include the Signature Events, comprising eight separate activities for mall shoppers and visitors, in addition to Modhesh Fun City and the International Roaming Entertainment that will feature the likes of the PowerPuff Girls, the Sesame Street Show and even Spider-Man.

And while the children can have their fun, parents can slip away for a blissful escape with the spa packages that return this year with 25 top names coming on board to offer specialised treatments and discounted deals.

So while you open up those diaries and plan the summer away, Emirates Business brings you the top events to watch out for over the next few months.

Ustad Shahid Pervez Khan, June 20, Centrepoint Theatre, Ductac

As one of India's most revered sitar maestros, Ustad Shahid Pervez Khan certainly knows how to enthrall audiences with his technical brilliance. Khan hails from the legendary Etawa gharana (household) of musicians, with an illustrated family tree that includes Ustad Aziz Khan (father) and the sitar grandmaster Ustad Vilayat Khan (uncle).

It would be safe to say this will be one of the hottest concert tickets of the season for lovers of classical music. Pervez Khan will be accompanied on stage by the amazing Anuradha Pal on tabla. Entry is by invitation only, but can be obtained by calling 04 232 9500.

Oliver! The Musical, June 20 and 21, Souk Madinat Theatre

Based on the character by Charles Dickens, Oliver! The Musical is Step By Step Dance School's ode to the famous tale of an orphan boy who is tricked into a life of crime but overcomes all odds to find a home and a family. The stage production is a combination of songs and exceptional theatre, against the backdrop of a competition where children from various local schools strut their stuff.

Junior Chefs Award, June 26 to July 2, Times Square Centre

It's time to tickle those taste buds as Master Chefs from around the world cook up a week-long storm at the Times Square Centre when they hand out one of the most prestigious awards in the Middle East hotel industry – the Junior Chefs Award, in recognition of talent across the region. While the culinary battle rages on, the rest of you can stand in line to sample the winnings.

Giant Charity Cake Sale, July 11, Mercato Mall

Those of you with a sweet tooth can now enjoy your cake and eat it too, guilt free, in the name of charity. The Giant Charity Cake Sale returns this year after last year's phenomenal response where 3,000 cakes were sold out in just four hours. All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Dubai Autism Centre. Don't miss this rare opportunity to feast on some amazing desserts.

Disney's High School Musical, July 23 to July 26, Ductac, Mall of the Emirates

Popular Productions is staging Disney's smash-hit High School Musical (HSM) with a complete organic cast of misfits from Dubai's very own talented pool of actors. High School Musical became a global phenomenon when this television film first aired in 2006 on the Disney channel in the United States. Over six million viewers tuned in to the premiere broadcast of this teenage musical where a geek and a jock try out for a high school musical and divide a school. The concept became so popular that a series was planned, with talks of a High School Musical 4 in the works (HSM 2 has already premiered, while HSM 3 is being filmed in the US).

Dubai Fashion Fiesta, July 25 to July 27, Dubai World Trade Centre

It's time to slip on those Jimmy Choos and tote your Gucci bag to the Dubai Fashion Fiesta. Last year, the city's fashionistas plucked front row seats when international designers like Lloyd Klein, Satya Paul, Sa Soie, Falguni and Shane Peacock, Aida Korman and Deepika Gihani showcased their latest designers. This year's names are said to be even bigger, with confirmed designers including Italy's Tim Sak and India's Ritu Kumar.

Recycled Art Exhibition, July 28 to August 11, Reef Mall

An exceptional event by all means, the Recycled Art Exhibition is a display of sculptures and fixtures using various recycled materials. Watch creativity unfurl as materials obscure as metal pieces, cans, and waste paper are transformed into brilliant works of art.

Enrique Iglesias, August 22, Dubai Festival City

The last time Enrique Iglesias performed in Dubai, not only did the concert sell out within minutes (one of the first to do so in this region) but many women were actually carried out on stretchers after swooning at the mere sight of him on stage. Four years later, the Latin pop singer-songwriter returns for an encore at Dubai Festival City. While details on the upcoming concert have yet to be released, the event will tie-up with Dubai Orphans Day and proceeds from the ticket sales will be used to help children in Darfur.

Son of Latino artist Julio Iglesias, the younger sex symbol entered the music arena in 1995 but it was only in 1999 that he hit the big league with Bailamos, which shot to number one in the US and was featured in the movie, Wild Wild West. Enrique has since topped the US Billboard singles chart 17 times, along with winning numerous awards. And with his song Can You Hear Me? being named the official song for Euro 2008, it's a tune you will be humming all summer long.

The numbers

Dh85m: The total budget for the 11th edition of the Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS).

Dh9m: The total prize money that is up for grabs during the 65-day festival. However, DSS officials reveal that many more surprise cash draws could bump up this figure even further.

Dh3.9b: The estimated total consumer spending for DSS 2008. Officials expect a 20 to 25 per cent jump from last year.

2.3m: The number of regional and international tourists expected in Dubai during the DSS period. This is a 10 per cent jump from last year's 2.1m visitors.