What’s happening in the UAE in 2016?

We enjoyed 2015. We launched ShortList for one thing, which kept us busy and, hopefully, you both entertained and informed – and also built up a degree of trust that, when it comes to what to do in the UAE, we can sort the essential from the extraneous. Looking ahead to 2016, then, we have come up with a chunk of exciting things happening over the next 12 months. We’ve even drafted in a few experts to help out.

Where we’ll be partying
“This year is going to be the year of the pool party. With venues like Zero Gravity adding a 2,000 square-metre pool expansion in January, plus the opening of Purobeach and, in February, Nikki Beach, we are set to experience some seriously impressive outdoor events. When you look at the calibre of DJs performing here in Dubai, I’d say it’s on a par, if not surpassing, some of the world’s most iconic clubbing destinations. And the industry is taking notice. For me, it’s all about location, and that easy, breezy ‘holiday’ mentality.”
Sarah Walker-Dufton, PR consultant and journalist

Who we’ll be watching
There are already some big names lined up for 2016. In clubland, Tiesto has confirmed he’s headlining DXBeach on February 26, while compatriot Hardwell’s show at Meydan is already selling out.

Confirmed acts at RedFest include Rita Ora, Steve Aoki and 50 Cent – who can’t stay away from Dubai – while the wonderfully misnamed Dubai Jazz Festival will welcome Sting, 1980s AOR rockers Toto and guitar legend Carlos Santana.

Welsh singer Sir Tom Jones will be belting out his many hits at the Du Forum on Yas Island in April, while the still brilliantly bombastic Simple Minds will be packing out the Irish Village at the end of January. Good times.

Where we’ll be eating
When the new W Hotel in Al Habtoor City opens in March, we can expect a slew of top-class restaurants, like Level Seven, a capacious Mediterranean place that will, it says, feature cuisines from Morocco to Turkey. Next door in the new Westin is Cook Hall, which will be the latest red-brick gastro pub to open in the city. Expect lots of “hand-crafted” things on the menu as well as sharing plates. There’ll also be pool tables and arcade games. Sounds good to us.

Enigma in the Palazzo Versace Dubai will be, it claims, the only fine-dining restaurant to change its head chef and menu four times a year. Three-time Michelin star winner Quique Dacosta will oversee the launch in January.

The biggest launch of the year could be Cipriani, the iconic Italian institution with branches in New York, Monte Carlo, Abu Dhabi and, sometime in Q1 2016, Dubai. Located in DIFC, the interior has been designed by Florentine architect Michele Bonan, complete with marble Venetian flooring.

What we’ll be eating
“Overlooked cuts of meat will be big. People seem to be becoming much more aware of food wastage and are finding new ways to cook and serve unusual parts of an animal. Jason Atherton’s Social at the InterContinental in the Marina is making a good start, with its bone marrow butter on toast and lamb loin and shoulder with a herb crust.

“Fermented and pickled everything will be huge, too. Think fermentation of everything from fish to sauce to vegetables. Tomo in Raffles has an extensive selection already, including maguro natto, which is thinly sliced raw tuna with fermented soybeans.”
Angela Hundal, food writer

“Alternative flours will be a big thing in 2016. I am super exited to see that banana flour is on the rise. It’s gluten-free and you don’t need to add much sugar as its sweet already.

“There is also an African gluten free grain called teff, which is used like oats. It’s great in baking, or add almond milk for a delicious breakfast. Kefir is like fermented yogurt and will be in every smoothie by 2017!”
Freddie Sackman, manager at Dubai’s Bookmunch café

Where we’ll be staying
The staycation trend isn’t disappearing – and in the UAE, there’s no reason why it ever would. One new hotel to book up in Dubai is the Viceroy at the base of The Palm with its own expansive beachfront, views back towards the Marina, as-yet unnamed Asian and Italian restaurants and a nightclub.

Abu Dhabi will offer up a brand new Four Seasons on Maryah Island. The 34-floor hotel will feature 190 hotel guestrooms, 54 serviced apartments, a rooftop pool and 300 square-metre garden looking over Al Maryah Island’s waterfront promenade.

Where we’ll be playing
“Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is looking forward to the launch of Flying Aces, which will boast the world’s steepest steel rollercoaster – set to break new records. It will have a starting hill inclined by 51 degrees and the world’s tallest loop of 52m (170ft) and is inspired by Italy’s ‘ace of aces’, Count Francesco Baracca, a famous Italian aviator of the 1900s whose legendary Prancing Horse emblem was inherited by Enzo Ferrari. There’s also a brand new Ferrari Driving Experience, and the expansion of Yas Beach, with a new DJ booth, bar, an infinity pool and five private chalets.”
Karim El Guanaini, Senior Vice President, Destination Management at Yas Island

What you’ll be reading
“While 2015 gave us Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, 2016 brings newly discovered novels by the late Stella Gibbons, whose Cold Comfort Farm gave us ‘something nasty in the woodshed’. If you prefer potential skeletons in cupboards, look for Broken Vows – Tony Blair: The Tragedy of Power by investigate journalist Tom Bower, Ian Herbert’s biography of former Liverpool FC manager Bob Paisley or Oprah Winfrey’s The Life you Want. For a crossover with the digital world, look for Rabia Chaudry’s insider account of the case of Adnan Syed, as featured in Serial, the podcast that captivated millions.”
Yvette Judge, Emirates Festival of Literature

What tech we’ll we be using
“As internet of things comes to life in the Middle East, we foresee the greater availability and adoption of smarter home appliances that you can have a chat with. At LG, we have launched our HomeChat mobile application, which allows consumers to control and communicate with their appliances remotely. This means consumers can switch on their washing machine to start the laundry, raise the volume on their audio system and even command their robot vacuum to clean their living room carpet with a simple text message. You needn’t be home to manage your home.”
Jamie Hwang, Home Appliances General Manager, LG Electronics Gulf FZE

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