20 amazing things to do in Dubai this April

The forecast for April is fun, fun, fun!

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We always start off this segment with some nattering about the weather, but it's been really unpredictable as of late. 

Thankfully this month there are plenty of goings-on that have jack-all to do with the weather: concerts, comedy shows, art exhibitions and conventions... This being pre-summer Dubai, there are loads of outdoors activities as well, we'd just recommend buying an umbrella at this point... 

Wheter you're in-or-out; there's plenty to keep you busy this month

Get teched out STEP Conference 2016

If you’re contemplating launching a tech start-up; have a blog you want to monetize; or are involved in the digital media industry in any sort of tangential way, you HAVE to attend STEP2016, a two-day interactive conference that describes itself as ‘the Middle East’s most disruptive tech event’. For those of us who have no idea what that means (e.g., this LD writer) the term ‘disruptive’ in the context of technology means ‘an innovation that creates a new market and value network that disrupts an existing market and value network,’ (kind of like what iTunes did to CDs). 

Divided into three tracks – Tech, Digital (aren’t they the same thing?) and Entertainment, the conference will be attended by tech gurus, venture capitalists, investors, successful startup founders, gamers and artists. There will be pitch competitions, mentorship corners, a hackathon (obviously) and plenty of chances to network with likeminded individuals. 

This year’s keynote speaker is the ever-so-disruptive Bassem Youssef, the Egyptian heart surgeon-turned-satirist who’s known as the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, but all the other speakers are super impressive as well. And after the conference wraps up for the day, the partying begins.

STEP2016 is happening Monday, 4 April and Tuesday, 5 April; at the Dubai International Marine Club in Mina Seyahi. To get involved, get your tickets here.  

Step Conference Audience

Fashion Swap Shop Night Market

Summer is coming. 

And with it, our banishment to the confines of Dubai’s many massive malls. 

But before that fateful day arrives, fashionable mall-haters (no, it’s not an oxymoron) should drop by the Fashion Swap Shop. This monthly pop-up event features indie fashion brands, unique designers, local and international labels as well as pre-loved and vintage items. You can swap pieces from your own wardrobe at the Swap Rail or sell at your own stall. It’s basically like a really chic flea market.

This month’s Swap-Shop-eroo is on Tuesday, 5 April from 6-10pm in garden on 8 at the Media One Hotel in Dubai Media City. They have a happy hour going from 6-8pm, so get there early! Visit fashionswapshop.com to learn more about this fab fash initiative.  

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Toto, we're not in The Dubai Mall anymore

Picasso and Miró – Passion and Poetry

Dubai Art season isn’t quite over yet and the exhibition that art-lovers shouldn’t miss out on this April is the Picasso and Miró retrospective. The show will feature the artists' seminal pieces and will chart the development of these two contemporaries. You can learn more about the exhibition here, that’s if you can decipher anything that’s ever been written by an art historian. 

Or just go and take in the art. 

The exhibition will be running until May 17; opening times 12-11pm; at the Burj Khalifa Annex next to the Armani Hotel; tickets are priced at AED 125 and can be bought off of Platinum List or at the venue.   

Catalan Landscape

Joan Miró's Catalan Landscape

Geek out at the Mid East Comic Con 2016

Dubai is expo-and-convention-land, with some annual industry conference taking place almost every week of the year. And unless you’re part of that industry, you will have zero desire to take part in any of these conventions whatsoever. 

Except for this one: The Middle East Film and Comic Con (mouthful!), the biggest celebration of pop culture in the region is now in its fifth year, so we expect big things. There’ll be pop culture celebs in attendance: comic book king Stan Lee, the guy who plays Jamie Lannister on Games of Thrones (swoon) and Christopher Lloyd; a host of world-renowned illustrators; and cosplay and gamer celebs that would totally know about if you were clued into the culture. 

But even if you aren’t at all clued up, the MEFCC (still a mouthful!) is certainly worth a visit, if only for the immensely entertaining cosplay competition. Visit mefcc.com to learn more about what’s going down at the Con this year.

The Con is on from Thursday, 7 April to Saturday, 9 April at the Dubai World Trade Centre (yeah, lots of things this April are going down there); get your tickets here

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Yes, comics enthusiasts can actually be attractive...

…And then refuel at TOKO post-Con

Technically you don’t have to attend the Comic Con to check out TOKO’s after-Con superhero-themed ‘Manga Madness’ four course set menu, but dressing as a caped crusader (or villain) might help you fit in. The cool izakaya will be offering up appropriately themed cocktails and dishes like a Silver Samurai smoked miso salmon and a Godzilla rib eye steak. 

How they will actually go about incorporating the theme into the food is a subject of intrigue amongst the LD staff. Guess we’ll have to go and check it out for ourselves. 

The Manga Madness Menu is available Thursday, 7 April to Saturday, 9 April, 6-10pm; Toko is at the stylish Vida Downtown hotel, Downtown Dubai. The prix fixe menu is a steal at AED 195 per person. For rezzies, call 04 442 8383 or email reservations@toko-dubai.com.

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We expect Toko's interior to get a bit more manga-fied

Posh day at the polo tourney

There’s a reason why polo is called the sport of kings… For one, it’s an expensive hobby, what with the horse and mallets and uniforms, etc. But it's mainly because of the fact that it’s been played by emperors and kings through the ages, with one Byzantine notable pretty much dying from exhaustion following a polo match. 

Going to a polo match is certainly a posh day out that you should indulge in if you happen to be a fan of the sport, love all things equestrian, like to hob knob in a glamorous setting; or just want to enjoy a sunny spring day outdoors (weather permitting). There are lush lawns to picnic on, lots of people watching to do, ‘side line socialising’ to take part in, and action packed matches to watch.

The Dubai Cup 2016 takes place on Friday, 8 April, at the Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club in the Arabian Ranches. AED 150 gets you general admission in the picnic area (bring your own picnic basket, but not booze – you can get that from concession areas throughout the venue). If you’d like to upgrade and go for gold, Gold Lounge seating is available – just contact info@dubaipologoldcup.com

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Polo...it can get pretty intense

The BIG Bubble Run

Umm…yeah, so the details on Dubai’s first Bubble Run are a bit fuzzy but this is apparently a foam-filled 5K fun-run (or walk, or dance). All we know is that you’ll have bubbles blasted at you by a giant foam cannon as you make your way across six different bubble zones (the details of which remain unspecified). The FAQ page has assured us that the bubble solution being used is toxic-free and won’t make the ground slippery, so that’s something. 

If you’ve ever attended a foam party, you’ll know that an event like this has a fun-to-grossness ratio of three-to-one – or one-to-three, depending on what kind of person you are. 

If you're feeling the fluff, The BIG Bubble Run takes place on Friday, 8 April at the Dubai Autodrome; you should get your tickets in advance since apparently you have to have a BIG Bubble Kit to take part. 

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Make sure to wear trainers you have no intention of ever wearing again to this thing

Get on the road at the Dubai Desert Run

If the Bubble Run sounds a bit too wet and fluffy to you, the very next Saturday sees the Dubai Desert Run take place. Runners of all levels are invited to participate, from happy-go-lucky joggers to very serious runners of all age groups (apparently the minimum age for the 3K is six years old, which is kinda cray; apparently you can also push your baby in a stroller). There are two events, a 3K  and a 10K, both on private roads away from bothersome traffic. Because the Desert Run takes place several times a year, it’s a great way to track your athletic progress. 

Get running on Saturday, April 16; it takes place at The Sevens Stadium on Al Ain Road, E66. To learn more about the run, check out dubairunning.com and register online here.


We'd lace up our most serious trainers for this one though

Attend the Sharmila Dance Extravaganza 

15 years ago, a woman called Sharmila began teaching dance lessons in the UAE. Fast forward a few years later and now she runs The Sharmila Dance School – with over 700 enrolled students, this is probably the best dance school in Dubai. 

Every year, Sharmila Dance puts on the Extravaganza which features over 200 dancers performing a wide range of choreographies (hip hop to ballet to street jazz, etc.) and, of course, lots of costume changes. It's one of Dubai’s most sought after dance events so it sells out every year. So we're extremely interested in find out what the fuss is all about.

The Extravaganza takes place on Friday, 15 April and Saturday, 16 April with matinee performances at 2:30pm and evening performances at 7:30; at the Centrepoint Theatre, DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates. Tickets start at AED 155, get them here. Interested in learning more about the dance school? Then check out sharmiladance.com.     

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Or watch a totally different kind of choreography...

If you've never indulged in the magical and outrageous world of professional wrestling get ready to rumble! Some of the WWE's (World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. – yeah, we liked it better when it was called the WWF) biggest names are coming to town to do battle at the Live Dune Bash. 

Yes, it's low-brow. Yes, it's testosterone-fuelled. And yes, we're fully aware that everything about it – the names, the feuds, the moves – is fake. But if you're the kind of person who enjoys watching movies that are soooo bad they're good, you've got to make it to a wrestling match.

The pro-wrestlers throw down on Thursday, 14 April and Friday, 15 April at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium. Get your tickets (starting from AED 350) here

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The New Day, the WWE's currently tag-team champions are top notch entertainers

Get your PADI Dive certification at the Ambassador Lagoon at Atlantis The Palm

If learning to scuba is on your bucket list, this is probably the best way to kick off your certification process. After you get the gist of things in the confined water sessions, you get the to dive in the Lagoon amongst sharks, rays and like, 65,000 other marine animals. Warning though, the course is super intensive – you have to do everything (including the theoretical aspect of the course) over the span of two days. But that makes it perfect for weekend resort visitors. And it could be a great family activity because the course is open to kids as well provided they’re at least 10 years old.

This program is ongoing, but you might as well get it done in April so you’re ready to dive over your summer hols. Courses are priced at AED 1,950 for non-resort guests and AED 1,700 if you’re staying at Atlantis The Palm. Check out atlantisthepalm.com for more information. 

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Teach the little ones that science is fun! 

If you hate the idea of plopping the kids in front of the telly (or the iPad) after school you should take them to go see the Ministry of Science Live – a fun and somewhat anarchic stage show that'll teach them about the wonders of scientific discovery through the ages. There will be lots of bangs, whooshes and messy demonstrations (audience participation expected) to explain a range of scientific theories. There's apparently a hovercraft, a human cannon, liquid nitrogen and bottle rockets involved. Go along with the kids and you'll soak up historical and scientific facts in a session that might make you wish you had taken chem class more seriously. Plus seeing kids get excited about learning always feels amazing. 

This '100% educational; 200% fun' show is on Wednesday, 20 April at DUCTAC's Centrepoint Theatre in Mall of the Emirates. Get your tickets on the DUCTAC website and get more info on the show at ministryofscience.org.uk.  

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Remember kids, don't try this at home

Stuff yourself silly on stuffed pasta 

One of Dubai’s best fine dining Italian spots, Vivaldi by Alfredo Russo, is paying homage to the culinary delight that is stuffed pasta with a seasonal menu that promises to expand your horizons past(a) the usual tortellini and ravioli (although those are nice too). Have you ever heard of Piacentini; or realized that pappardelle could be stuffed? Yeah, didn’t thinks so. 

Anyway, Sundays through Thursday the chef will delicately prepare stuffed pastas at a live cooking station while talking guests through each step of preparation.

This seasonal menu is available Sunday – Thursday till 4 June; pastas priced from AED 60, with sharing dishes available too; Vivaldi by Alfredo Russo is located in the Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel, Deira; book a table by calling 04 207 1717 or, if you hate making phone calls, email Vivaldi.reservations@sheraton.com.


Who would have thought there would be so many different kinds of stuffed pasta?

Get heckled by Jason Byrne courtesy of McGettigans

The super-popular and critically acclaimed Irish comedian will be in Dubai for two nights for his ’20 Yeas a Clown’ tour. The funnyman, who also hosts several radio shows in his native Ireland, is known for his highly ‘interactive’ style, which basically means he likes to pick on audience members for laughs. 

Apparently, this abusive strategy seems to be working well for him because he played to two sell-out shows last year after first coming out here for McGettigans first Comedy fest. But unless you’re a bit of a masochist, we think this going-on is for the thick-skinned only.

Byrne will be performing at The Baggot, JLT on Thursday, April 21 and Friday, April 22. Doors open at 7pm. Get your tickets for just AED 150 here.


Yep, he'll probably pick on you. And you'll like it. 

Check out the Cider & Craft Brew Festival

The Reform Social and Grill is hosting a month-long Springfest, featuring all sorts of spring-y activities every weekend. But the best of what they've got lined up has to be the Cider and Craft Brew Festival, which will feature live music, 50 craft brews and ciders. Reform has teamed up with Virgin Airlines and Elegant Resorts for a chance to win a holiday – all you have to do is pick up a brew passport and collect stamps from every country you’ve ‘explored’. Oh, and get lucky.

The festing goes on from Thursday, 21 April to Saturday 23 April; Reform Social Grill is in The Lakes; entry is free and it’s AED 200 for five tokens, AED 350 for 10 tokens; visit reformsocialgrill.ae for details; email reservations@reformsocialgrill.ae or call 04 4542638 for reservations. 

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Jazz at Café Belge

Most of these fun happenings occur over the weekends, which can be upsetting, because it means weekdays are a bit blah and weekends are a bit AAARGH! Luckily Café Belge (pretty much our favorite venue at the DIFC) hosts a Roaring Twenties-style night every last Tuesday of the month. Yes, the audacity of fun on a Tuesday!  Anyway, there’ll be a four-piece live jazz band playing from 8:30pm onwards and lots of vintage glamour.

This month Café Belge will channel the elegance and sophistication of the Jazz Era on Tuesday, 26 April; check it out at the Ritz Carlton, DIFC. Treat yourself to the Oysters and Champers package at AED 750 or the Sparkly Grape and Mussels package at AED 350. Not into molluscs? The à la carte menu, with its excellent Wagyu burger and the best chips in the DIFC, is also available. Call 04 372 2222 to book yourself a table.

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Oysters and trumpets and an excuse to wear a flapper dress? We are so there...

See The Human League. Or see The Proclaimers. Or see BOTH!

If you’re wistful for some good, honest, cheesy music, we’re pleased to announce that two such acts will be coming to town this April. First up it’s The Human League – the 1980s new wave electronic band best known for Don’t You Want Me and Fascination. Then it’s time for The Proclaimers – the Scottish twins who sing with a Scottish twang and are best known for I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), which has to be one of the cutest love ditties to emerge from the musical utopia that was the 1990s. You know, back when MTV actually played music videos. 

The Human League will be playing Friday, 15 April at the Media City Amphitheatre – starting at noon. Yes, it’s a matinee and in fact you could be having brunch (AED 650) while feeling all those 80s feels. There are other ticket types, check them out here.

The Proclaimers will be onstage at the Irish village on Thursday, 28 April from 9pm. Tickets are going for AED 125, check out theirishvillage.com to learn more.


She was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar...

Romance your sweetheart with a luxurious desert dinner  

If you have a special occasion this month or just absolutely bungled the whole Valentines Day thing (or something else) and need a save, the folks at the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort have you covered. 

They’ve come up with pretty much the best private dinner experience you can imagine: a sumptuous set menu served to you by your very own personal butler whilst reclining on plush ground seating. Shimmering lanterns, a healthy scattering of rose petals, the desert sunset as the ultimate backdrop – it’s the perfect setting. What’s more, they’ll provide you with a bouquet of flowers and a cake tailored for the occasion. They’ll also have a violinist serenade you and your honey with romantic tunes. If the violinist is a bit much for you, we’re sure you can send him away. 

All you have to do is basically be your usual charming self…

These romantic dinner packages, ranging from AED 5,000 to AED 7,500 per couple, can be enjoyed all throughout April at Bab Al Shams Resort and Spa. This romantic haven is located on Al Qudra, Road Opposite Endurance City. For bookings and more information, call 04 809 6194 or shoot an email to BAS.Restaurants@meydanhotels.com.

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The horses are a bonus

Watch the 29th Table Tennis Asian Cup!

Could there be anything more mesmerising than watching pro players artfully bat a Ping Pong ball around that tiny table? 

That’s a rhetorical question.

Anyway, the very illustrious Asian Table Tennis Union will be hosted by Dubai this year! While the ATTU website is cagey, the trusty dubaicalendar.ae has it listed that admission to watch the tournament is free. In the lead-up to the tournament, organisers are planning to whip Dubai into a table tennis frenzy. There’ll be a series of free activities run by Ping Pong Dubai, ‘a grassroots table tennis initiative’. Yes, Dubai has a grassroots table tennis initiative. Events include ‘Free to Play’ at Ripe Market in Zabeel Park every Friday until 21 April. Ping Pong Dubai is also putting on a DIFC Corporate Challenge to mark World Table Tennis Day on 6 April. Yes, that’s also a thing.

The tournament kicks off on Thursday, 28 April and goes on till Saturday, 30 April at the Dubai World Trade Centre (where else?). Admission is meant to be free and that really may be the case because we can’t find a ‘buy tickets’ link anywhere online.

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Ping Pong... it too can get pretty intense 

Plus Minus Arena: explore another dimension…in a car park

Lifestyle events that combine music, food and drink come and go in Dubai, but we’ve heard this event is going to reconstruct the formula. For one, it’ll be the first ever electronic music festival to be held inside a car park in Dubai – which is about as close as you can get here to a warehouse rave in the UAE (licensing logistics and all that). Picture one massive car park; over ten fab artists including KiNk, Audiofly, and Henry Saiz; food trucks (of course!) and art installations creating a 360-degree, multi-sensory adventure. Sounds amazing.

Immerse yourself in a new dimension come Friday, 29 April; this one-of-a-kind event is going down at the Media One Hotel on Level P7 (that’s the car park). Tickets will be going on sale soon, so keep an eye out for it on their Facebook page. Or you can email adrian@blitz-me.com to secure yourself a table before tickets sell out, which they probably will. 

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