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Chinese New Year: Ways to celebrate the Year of the Monkey in UAE

By Shuchita Kapur

The Chinese New Year is the grandest traditional festival for the Chinese people and has gained enough prominence that it’s celebrated all over the world.

The Chinese New Year celebrations, also known as the Spring Festival, starts on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar.

The festival lasts for about 23 days, ending on the 15th day of the first lunar month in the following year in the Chinese calendar.

This year, the festival starts on February 8, 2016 and belongs to the Monkey. The Monkey is ninth of the 12 animals in the recurring 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. Every 12 years there is a Monkey year.

The UAE has a sizeable Chinese population. There were approximately 250,000 Chinese in the country by the end of 2013 with the majority being in Dubai.

The number of Chinese tourist coming to the UAE is also going up each year.

According to the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), the city recorded a 25 per cent year-on-year growth in Chinese tourists with the number reaching 344,329.

The figure is likely to double to 540,000 by 2023, according to a report by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and Oxford Economics.

Abu Dhabi also is expected to receive more than 177,000 Chinese visitors by 2023, an increase of 300 per cent compared to 2013, the report says.

As the number of Chinese residents and tourists goes up in the UAE, the country’s shopping malls and hotels are getting ready to host the New Year celebrations to usher in the Year of the Monkey.

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, is heralding Chinese New Year 2016 with exciting new additions to its family and a spectacular underwater show with an eastern twist.

Arriving just in time to ring in the Chinese New Year are Weedy Sea Dragons. This is the first time that visitors in the region will have the opportunity to view this beautiful species, native to waters off southern and eastern Australia.

Closely related to seahorses, sea dragons are some of the most ornately camouflaged animals in the world. Their entire bodies are adorned with delicate, leaf-shaped appendages, ensuring they blend in perfectly with the seaweed and kelp fronds that make up their natural habitat.

This attraction is welcoming in Chinese New Year with an aquatic take on the time-honoured ‘Dragon Dance’, a classic art form performed at festive celebrations.

Divers will be performing daily underwater versions of the Dragon Dance in the main aquarium for the delight and entertainment of visitors. Each ‘dance’ will last for 15 minutes and will be performed hourly (2pm – 8pm) from February 4 to 20.

Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi

Al Maryah Island will be celebrating the upcoming Chinese New Year with a range of fun-filled activities from February 3-8, 2016.

The Far Eastern celebrations will include fireworks. Visitors can experience the art and tradition of a variety of Chinese folk dances including the fan, ribbon, umbrella and lion dances, which are performed for good luck.

On offer will be dances, shows, craft workshops and an art exhibition, all showcased in traditional Chinese style. Visitors looking for a memorable culinary experience can head to Dai Pai Dong for a dim sum brunch or a set dinner menu.

All the activities will take place on the Promenade and inside The Galleria.

You can also watch China’s different historical Kung Fu fighting styles that have developed over its long history. Also, on show will a Chinese acrobatic troupe, performing several acts.

At Yas mall Abu Dhabi

Yas Mall will celebrate the Chinese New Year from February 4-8. There will be several performances to watch from like the UAE's first lion pole dance, lantern decorations, an authentic Chinese garden and a tree of wealth.

Kung Fu workshops, acrobatic shows, Caligraphy and Chinese lantern making, plus a special 'shop and win' activation have been put for the visitors.

At One&Only Resorts

For those looking to ring in the Chinese New Year, One&Only Royal Mirage and One&Only The Palm in Dubai can get a Chinese New Year deal which includes dinner, complimentary Aquaventure day pass at the nearby Atlantis, The Palm.

Chinese New Year at Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai

Gozo Garden at Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai is all set to celebrate the Chinese New Year. On February 8, revellers can dine on an extensive range of Chinese cuisine, from spicy Szechwan to traditional Cantonese and the imperial dishes of Peking.

Gozo Garden will celebrate the Chinese cuisine, adding an Oriental twist to celebrate the Spring Festival of 2016.

Most restaurants in the country have special oriental menus to celebrate the Chinese New Year.