20 Amazing Things To Do In Dubai This May
Weekday outings, world class acts, and fierce sporting events are in the works this month
If you’ve ever spent a summer in Dubai, you’re already aware that things reaaaally sloooooow doooooown from June till about late September. That’s because the temperature soars up to 45°C with humidity averaging at a hair-frizzing, garment-sticking 90%.
And this year, Ramadan rolls in around June – there’ll be plenty of lovely Iftars to indulge in, sure – but it slows down things even more. So this May you’d best pack in as much Dubai-based fun as you can, because come June, it’s most likely you’ll either opt to detox or take a long holiday abroad. Or both.
1. Celebrate Spring German-style at Maifest
The Grand Hyatt really has a thing for Germany because they don’t only host Dubai’s best Oktoberfest celebrations – they do Maifest as well. So dust off your dirndl or pull on your best pair of lederhosen to join the Germans in welcoming Spring (although more accurately we’ll be bidding the season adieu). There will be traditional German dishes that you’ll find difficult to pronounce (Erdbeerschnitte anyone?), loads of different German hops on offer and live music by ‘Die Kirchdorfer’, which according to the Google translation of their Wikipedia entry, is a traditional band that’s been around since the 1870s.
The Maifest tent will be up at the Grand Hyatt till Saturday, May 7. Admission is free but you’re advised to book a table since it’s über-popular. Maifest only runs Wednesdays to Saturdays, from 7pm onwards but there’s a brunch on Saturday where we imagine you can tuck into all the schnitzel you like. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 04 317 2618 to book.
2. Caribbean Riddimz at N’dulge
Atlantis’ mega club N’Dulge (formerly known as Sanctuary) just filled in a gap in the Dubai party market. Their new Caribbean Riddimz Thursdays have got proper Caribbean DJs spinning an eclectic mix of Reggae, Soca, Calypso, Dancehall, Zouk, Reggaeton, Salsa and Bachata. Yeah, we had to look some of these up too. The beats come with tropical cocktails and island nibbles. We’re hoping plantains will feature heavily in the menu. Mmm… plantains.
Get your riddim on every Thursday dis May from 9pm to 3am; cover charge of AED 100 – unless you happen to be a lady (or a couple) – then you get in for free until the clock strikes midnight. Check out atlantisthepalm.com for more information on the venue.
3. Help build a LEGO Desert Mosaic
If there’s one toy brand that has sustained a cult following to this day amongst adults (people are so over Barbie) it’s LEGO. So you don’t have to be a kid to join in on this fun of constructing a Desert Mosaic out of LEGOs, although maybe taking a tween along may help you feel less self-conscious.
Wednesday, 4 May to Saturday, 7 May from 1- 9pm in front of the LEGO Certified Store, Mall of the Emirates.
4. Pig out on International No Diet Day
Huzzah! May 6th is International No Diet Day. If you’re very disciplined about what you put into your body, this is the one time this year you should indulge in all of your greasy grub fantasies. That bastion of American junkie food, Original Wings and Rings, is encouraging this bit of gluttony with special deals off their menu, for example, buy a burger and get another one free, or tuck into a batch of their amazing chicken wings and get a complimentary dessert to round out those calories. Drool.
Celebrate International No Diet day at Original Wings and Rings on Friday, 6 May. To eat to your heart’s content (and possible detriment), make your way to Level C of Liberty House, DIFC. Call 04 359 6900
5. Take the kids to Wild Wadi – for free!!!
If there’s one thing kids love, it’s a good theme park. And the best kind of theme park in this kind of weather is a water park. Trust us, we’ve queued for hours at various outdoor theme parks that were not water-based in temperatures above 30°C and it’s never been fun. To celebrate the International Day of Families on May 15th (yes, there’s an international or a national day for just about everything) Dubai’s best waterpark is offering complimentary entrance tickets for all the children below 12 years of age.
UAE residents can take advantage of the special promotion from 1-30 May by simply presenting their National ID. The offer is valid Saturdays to Thursdays all through the month. Kiddos should be accompanied by adults. Visit jumeirah.com for more info.
6. Gaucho’s Interactive Movie Night
Were you aware that the high-end Argentine eatery puts on an interactive movie screening every Sunday night? It’s an immersive experience in the sense that if it’s on screen, it’s on your plate or in your class – and eventually in your tummy. As much as we love going to the movies, we must admit that getting this sort of gourmet treatment sounds a lot more appealing than the overpriced popcorn you have to buy at movie theatre concession counters. This May they’re paying homage to the classic James Bond films, with the exception of May 8th, when they’ll be showing the feel-good foodie comedy Chef with an accompanying special menu.
The DIFC eatery will be screening Chef on Sunday, 8 May, from 7 to 9:30pm. Enjoy the film and the food for AED 295 per person. For reservations or call 04 422 7898, or email email@example.com
7. The Dubai Tango Festival
We were pleasantly surprised to find out that a thriving tango community exists in Dubai. It's spearheaded by an organisation called Tango Dubai which offers classes, workshops and throws a weekly Milonga (basically a tango party) every Tuesday. They also put on an annual festival, now in its eighth year, to bring together aficionados of the Argentine dance from all over the world. There will be dance workshops taught by professionals, live performances by some of the best tango musicians and singers, and a gala dinner. Whether you’re a seasoned dancer or just a curious beginner, checking out the festival is a must if you love your Latin music.
The Dubai Tango Festival goes on from Wednesday, 18 May to Saturday, 21 May at the Meydan Hotel, Nad El Sheba. Check out the festival program and register at tangodubai.org.
8. Havana Mondays at Bistrot Bagatelle
This upscale, super-trendy French hotspot is mixing things up by introducing a Cuban-themed night, a move welcomed by those of us who enjoy going out on weeknights. In keeping with Bagatelle’s chichi style, they’ll be channeling Havana’s glamorous pre-Castro era, so expect fancy fare and a selection of the finest Cuban cigars. For the next eight weeks, they’ll be flying in Son Yambu, an Afro-Cuban band that'll be heating up the dance floor with their fusion of Spanish and African rhythms. Fancy!
Bistrot Bagatelle is located at the Fairmont Hotel, SZR. Rather controversially, its doors open for dinner at 8pm; but they stay open till 3am, which makes it quite the party spot, even on school nights. Call04 3545035 to book yourself a table.
9. Bust out those piping bags and get icing!
We’ve all gone into a Magnolia bakery and oohed and aahed at the beautifully constructed, mouth watering treats housed in their glass display case. If you enjoy making baked goods as much as you like eating them, or just looking at them, Magnolia is offering workshops on baking and decorating! It actually sounds like a lot of fun and is a great activity to do with a friend or your kiddos. They’ve got two sessions on this May, one at their location at The Beach and the other at their spot in Dubai Festival City. In addition to that, if you actually manage to buy AED 250 worth of desserts (how many banana puds would that come up to, we wonder…) they’ll throw in a complimentary baking class.
Session one is being held on Wednesday, 4 May at the Magnolia Bakery Festival City (04 288 1539); no. 2 is on Monday, May 16 at the Magnolia Bakery on The Beach (04 276 7034). Sign up for AED 150 a head.
10. OFF BEAT Wednesdays at Indie
The casual, cool and super cozy vibe of Indie (an ironic name for a venue housed in a corporate mega-complex) makes it a welcome addition to the after work drinks scene over at the DIFC. And, in the campaign to make Wednesday the new Thursday, the kitchen/lounge is introducing a live music night to add a much-needed dose of fun to the mid-week grind. They’ll be showcasing live artists performing a range of genres. This May, Indie’s OFF BEAT Wednesdays will host Boogie Breeze, an NYC-based RnB artist who’s collaborated with artists like Shakira, Wyclef Jean, John Legend, T.I and Estelle.
Make your way to Indie, which is housed on the podium floor of Gaucho, DIFC, for OFF BEAT Wednesdays. The fun starts from 8:00 pm to late, though you can always just head there as soon as you punch out of the office. Call 055 455 6106 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a table.
11. Arabian Bubble Celebration
Dubai is a super family friendly city with lots of activities and shows for the little ones. This May’s sure-fire child-oriented hit is going to be the Arabian Bubble Celebration. Broadway bubble specialists (yes, that’s a thing) Melody and Deni Yang (the two youngest members of the famous Yang family of the Gazillion Bubble Show) are bringing their mind-blowing bubble, laser and 3D show to Dubai. And we’re certain that both you and the tots will enjoy the 70-minute show’s gorgeous visuals and impressive bubble stunts.
The Arabian Bubble Celebration will be on at the Dubai World Trade Centre from Thursday, 19 May to Saturday 21 May. Book your tickets here.
12. Learn to love the Oud
And we mean the instrument, not the fragrance. There’s no sound that’s quite as haunting and beautiful as that of an oud in the hands of an expert player. If you’ve never had the pleasure of attending a live oud performance, you should really go see Hani Naser, a master oud player and virtuouso percussionist. While we dig classical Arabic oud playing best, Naser is at home in a multitude of musical styles. He’s collaborated with both Western artists such as Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, David Lindley, Santana, and Mickey Hart of The Grateful Dead as well as Arab greats like Fayrouz, Sabah, Abdul Wahab, and Samira Tawfik. Definitely a must-see performance for lovers of World Music.
Naser will be playing at the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre (a.k.a. DUCTAC) at the Mall of the Emirates on Friday, 20 May from 8:30pm. Tickets are going for AED 150; get them here.
13. Or go see Armin Van Buuren live
On the complete opposite end of the musical spectrum (and incidentally on the same evening) the super-duper famous Armin Van Buuren is coming to Dubai! The accomplished Dutchman – he’s been ranked no.1 DJ by DJ Mag (the authority on all things DJ) a record of five times, four years in a row – will be bringing his new world tour, ‘Armin Only: Embrace’, to the Meydan Racecourse. Tickets (which range from AED 499 to AED 1250 – see more on the various packages here) are selling like hotcakes, so trance fans should get theirs right meow!
The great AVB will be gracing the decks on Friday, 20 May at the Meydan Racecourse in Nad El Sheba. Get your tickets at platinumlist.net before they sell out.
14. Unwind at Catch after work
Catch, probably the trendiest seafood restaurant in Dubai right now, is rolling out a special happy hour called Before Later. From 6 to 8pm, Sundays through Wednesdays, you can go on and grab an after-work drinky-winky at this hotspot’s lounge with selected bevs (including their Persephone and Dirty Bastard cocktails) priced at a bargain AED 35. Couple the resto’s cool atmosphere with signature dishes like its King Fish Tacos, well, it’s enough to almost make you want to hang out with Rachel from HR outside of office hours.
Before Later runs from 6 to 8pm all through the working week (except Thursday evenings, obvs) at Catch, The Fairmont Hotel in the Trade Centre Area. You might want to stay on for the Later bit and grab dinner there.
15. Take in some Emirati Heritage at the Al Gaffal Dhow Race
The Al Gaffal Dhow Race is an iconic sporting event designed to commemorate the pearl divers that were so integral to the development of Dubai as a trading port. The race sees about over a 100 of these 60-foot long beauties sail the Gulf. The course plots a historically significant route and begins at the small, uninhabited island of Sur Bu Na'air, where the pearl fleets used to stop on their long journey home after months at sea. Makes sense because Al Gaffal translates to ‘the return’.
To really drive home the heritage message, the racing crew on these traditional boats have to be all-Emirati to participate. You can either watch the traditional vessels race from the shore or get up close to the action thanks to specially chartered ferry rides that follow the racers at various points around the marina.
The dhows will set sail very, very early in the morning on Saturday, 21 May – we’ll post more details on the event closer to the date.
16. Watch the Squash World Series Finals
If you’ve been in Dubai long enough, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that people here love squash as evidenced by the plethora of apartment complexes that house their own squash courts (there are reputedly over a 1,000 squash courts available throughout the emirate).
Well, much to the delight of squash fans, the Professional Squash Association has decided to hold its World Series Finals right here in Downtown Dubai, with Burj Khalifa as the backdrop. They’re constructing a state-of-the-art squash court where the world’s best will go racket to racket.
The Finals run from Tuesday, 24 May to Saturday, 28 May at the Burj Park – more info here. If you’re interested in watching the world’s best players in action live get your tickets ticketmaster.ae, although we should warn you that watching the top seeded squash players in the world will make you woefully self conscious about your own game.
17. A night at the Opera
The much-awaited Dubai Opera is set to open its doors sometime soon, with shows lined up starting from September this year. To warm up for the influx of culture that’s coming our way so soon, may we suggest checking out the Italian Opera Gala? Renowned Italian Soprano Monica De Rosa Mckay and Tenor Gian Luca Pasolini will be belting out some of the most famous opera arias from works like Bellini’s ‘Norma’, Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’, and Puccini’s ‘Tosca’.
The fat lady sings (actually, Ms. De Rosa Mckay isn’t fat at all, it’s just a saying) on Thursday, 26 May at the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre (that's DUCTAC to you) at the Mall of the Emirates. Get your tickets here.
18. Throw down some clay at Yadawei
If you’re looking to enrich your life with a new hobby, why not try your hand at the super soothing art of pottery and ceramics? Yadawei, which translates to ‘handcrafted’ in Arabic, is an open-access pottery and ceramics studio out in the uber-artsy district of Al Quoz. They offer weekly classes with expert potters on Mondays and Saturdays. They also do a two-day crash course once a month to get you going.
This month, the workshop goes down on Friday, 27 May and Saturday, 28 May from 10am to 02:45pm. You can learn more about the studio and register for the workshop at yadawei.net.
19. Laugh it up with Adam Hills
The genuinely hilarious and multi-award winning Aussie comedian and TV presenter is coming to Dubai for the first time ever. His quick wit and amazing impersonations will have you laughing out loud. He delights in interacting with his audiences – always with sidesplitting results. And don’t be surprised if he passes around his prosthetic leg…
Find the funny man at the Dubai World Trade Centre on Friday, 27 May. Regular tickets are going for AED 300 a pop; premium tix are priced at AED 500. Get ‘em here.
20. Pick up some pointers from the experts at COYA’s Pisco Lounge
This May COYA’s super-talented bar tenders are participating in the World Class Competition this year – which is a really big deal in the world of mixology. COYA’s celebrating their team by inviting cocktail lovers to sip on World Class cocktails and try their hand at making their own drinks. There will be ‘floating canapés’ (what are those?) and a live DJ as well.
Tuesday, 31 May from 6:30 to 8:30pm. To get more info and RSVP to the event, email email@example.com or call 04 316 9600. COYA and its celebrated Pisco Lounge is located at the very swank Four Seasons Resort on Jumeirah Beach Road.