Dubai Shopping Festival started in 1995 as a way to boost the retail trade in Dubai and is now a major event for tourists and locals alike. In 2015, the festival will run from 1st January until 1st February, so New Year is an ideal time to visit. During the festival, many shops offer large discounts and there is a fireworks display each evening. In addition, those feeling lucky can buy a raffle ticket for one of the daily draws to win a car.
The festival is not simply focused on material objects; rather, this is a fun time for family with mall entertainment, such as fashion shows and street entertainers, during the day and early evening shows. The event begins with an impressive laser and fireworks show over Dubai Creek - book a Creekview room at the Grand Hyatt for easy access to all festivities.
The camel racing season runs from October until March and Dubai Camel Racing Festival marks the end of season. Although jockeys used to be children, these days robot jockeys are used, which is quite a sight. The robots are remote controlled, so the camel owners race down the side of the track in their own cars in order to operate the jockeys, whilst blowing their horns in encouragement. In general, camels can race until around 7 years old, when they grow too big to be able to run efficiently and are instead used for milk, meat or tourist activities. Prizes can reach over $1500/race or are often a luxury car, such as a Range Rover Sport.
During the festival, a number of races take place, catering for both young and older camels. The festival runs from 5th-16th April 2015 at the Al Marmoum Racetrack.
Dates and arabic coffee are the traditional welcome across Arabia and you will often be greeted with a small cup of this cardamom flavoured beverage and a sweet sticky date when checking into luxury hotels in the region.
Abu Dhabi Date Palm Festival will be held in November 2014, but the schedule is not yet released for 2015. The event, which is held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) showcases thousands of varieties of dates from the Middle East and further afield. In addition to the opportunity to buy dates are special prices, the festival has a number of activities on offer, including games with prizes (such as match the date to the tree), palm tree climbing, live cooking demonstrations, a maze and a date palm museum.
Hyatt Capital Gate is directly connected to ADNEC, so the ideal place to stay if visiting the festival.
Dubai International Boat Show is the largest marine show in the region and, in addition to offering a huge choice of aquatic vessels to buy, is also a tourist attraction in its own right. Not only does the event showcase some of the world's most impressive super-yachts, there are also exhibits from leading luxury lifestyle brands, fashion, entertainment, prize draws and a parade of super-cars. The show will be held from 3rd to 7th March in 2015, an ideal time to visit the UAE when the weather is warm but not scorching.
To feel part of the jet set elite, why not charter your own boat for a sightseeing cruise whilst visiting the boat show? We have done this a number of times and always had a great experience - check out Cobone or Groupon for deal vouchers or book Creek Breeze from just outside the Park Hyatt.
An important event throughout the Muslim world, Ramadan will take place from around 18th June until 17th July 2015, depending on sightings of the crescent moon. During Ramadan, Muslim's fast from dawn to sunset and focus on devotion and spiritual reflection. The daily fast is traditionally broken with dates and milk, but many hotels offer Iftar buffets - a time of celebration (non-Muslims are welcome to join).
If travelling to the UAE during this time, it is important to dress very modestly and not to eat or drink in public (this may include drinking water inside a vehicle - ask your concierge for current advise). Hotel restaurants will generally be open during Ramadan, but will be screened off. In addition, it is common for alcohol to not be served until sundown, or only through room-service / private dining. We recommend the Iftar at Hyatt Capital Gate in Abu Dhabi - there spread of food is high quality and delicious.