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UAE Cultural Calendar 2014 | Spring Events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai
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UAE Cultural Calendar 2014 | Spring Events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai

Picture of Diana Condrea
Updated: 18 October 2016
The United Arab Emirates is rapidly growing into an attractive and vibrant cultural destination. High quality art fairs, food bonanzas and exciting festivals set the standard in the fascinating country, representing local culture, as well as deeply international influences. This list of the ten best events taking place in the UAE this spring is the culture lover’s ultimate guide to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.


Gourmet Abu Dhabi

4 – 19 February

One of the most tantalising events to descend upon Abu Dhabi this winter is a ‘gastronomic extravaganza’, the annual Gourmet Abu Dhabi, hosted by the finest restaurants of the UAE’s capital. This year, the festival gathers top Michelin-starred international masterchefs, such as Bart de Pooter, Cristophe Muller, Cyril Lignac, Henrik Ide Andersen and Fabio Pisani, but also Khulood Atiq, the UAE’s first female national chef. The festival features culinary demonstrations, chateaux dinners, gastronomically oriented events and themed dinners – a treat for all those who enjoy refined international cuisine in the heart of cosmopolitan Abu Shabi.

Various locations across Abu Dhabi. For more information, please visit the event’s website.



Short+Sweet Theatre Competition

5 – 22 February

The international theatre competition Short+Sweet comes to the UAE for the second time this year and promises to be an ambitious and unconventional cultural event. The biggest play festival in Dubai, it hosts over 100 actors, writers and directors from all over the world presenting 62 works ranging from comedy to drama. The trick is that none of the plays lasts longer than ten minutes. For the first time ever, the competition will bring together the best theatre groups of Dubai: Backstage, Dubai Drama Group, Theatrics, Third Half Theatre and Theatrewallas Productions, but also companies from places as diverse as Pakistan or New York.

Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, UAE. For more information, please visit the event’s website.



Dubai Jazz Festival

13 – 20 February

The Dubai Jazz Festival is without a doubt the perfect choice to see live performances of some of the most important contemporary jazz players, but the event also features concerts by pop and rock performers. Organised as ‘a system for bringing jazz to large audiences that wouldn’t normally hear it’, this musical event transforms Dubai into a major international concert destination for three days each year, bringing together tens of thousands of spectators. Last year, the Dubai Jazz Festival’s line-up included world-famous bands such as Deep Purple, OneRepublic and The Script, while this year Santana, Billy Childs Quartet, Sean Jones and Larry Carlton, among many others, will grace the festival’s stage. An eagerly awaited fixture on Dubai’s cultural calendar, the festival has won numerous awards in the past years, such as the Best Music Event at the Middle East Event Awards 2012.

Dubai Festival City, Dubai Creek, Dubai, UAE. For more information, please visit the festival’s website.



Abu Dhabi Festival

2 – 31 March

The Abu Dhabi Festival is the most important fine arts event in the UAE, gathering a host of renowned performers, artists and orchestras in an impressive spectacle that puts Abi Dhabi on the world’s artistic map. Organised by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, a non-profit that won The Aspen Institute Emerging Voice Award for Cultural Stewardship for its contribution to art development in the Middle East, the 2014 edition of the festival brings to Abu Dhabi some of the most critically acclaimed contemporary artists, such as Bill Fontana, 14-time Grammy Award-winning jazz player Herbie Hancock, guitarist Miloš Karadaglić and soprano singer Renée Fleming along with with tenor Michael Schade and the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra.

Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, UAE. For more information, please visit the festival’s website.



Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

4 – 8 March

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is the largest of its kind in the Middle East, and without a doubt a fantastic opportunity to meet some of the world’s best contemporary writers. During the five days of the event, more than 150 guests, writers and speakers from 25 countries will enchant the audience of around 30,000 guests, and connect visitors to the fascinating realm of literary creation. The Workshop and Masterclass Programme will allow literature enthusiasts to be tutored and inspired by established writers, but events are in abundance and offer guests a taste of eclectic subjects, from Female Focus talks to Local Flavour (sessionsfeaturing writers from the UAE) or the history-oriented readings and events.

The Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City, Dubai, UAE. For more information, please visit the festival’s website.



SIKKA Art Fair

15 – 25 March

SIKKA is one of the trendiest cultural events in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, featuring contemporary art from video installations to art workshops, live performances and local art exhibitions. A young and community-powered event first organised in 2011, SIKKA takes its name from the small streets between the historic houses of Dubai. Based on its artistic and commercial success in 2013, which saw 15 musicians develop an experimental album, this year’s edition promises to be another unmissable event in the heart of buzzing Dubai.

Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, Bur Dubai, Dubai, UAE. For more information, please visit the fair’s website.



Design Days Dubai

17 – 21 March

Design Days Dubai is the first design event in the Middle East and South Asia, featuring exhibitions by a number of international galleries and designers, such as Carpenters Workshop Gallery (UK/France), Galerie Gosserez (France), Galerie Judi Straten (Netherlands), J+A Gallery (UAE), Industry Gallery (USA) or Southern Guild (South Africa), to name just a few of the exhibitors. The programme also features educational activities and talks, workshops, live performances and dazzling installations – ‘The Analogia Project’by Andrea Mancuso and Emilia Serra or the ‘Time Dubai Installation by Humans since 1982’ by David Cox, both created especially for Design Days Dubai.

The Venue, Downtown Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Dubai, UAE. For more information, please visit the event’s website.


Design Days Dubai
© Design Days Dubai


Art Dubai

19 – 22 March

Celebrating its eight edition this year, Art Dubai remains the highlight of UAE’s cultural calendar as the most esteemed international art fair of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. The event, which gathered 25,000 visitors in 2013, will feature more than 80 galleries from 36 countries this year, with a focus on global contemporary art. It will also present an exhibition dedicated exclusively to modern art from the Middle East and South Asia. This year’s Art Dubai will also feature a very noteworthy programme, Marker, featuring discussions and talks focusing on the art of Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Madinat Jumeirah, Al Sufouh Road, Umm Suqeim, Dubai, UAE. For more information, please visit the fair’s website.


The Gulf Film Festival

9 – 15 April

Reaching its seventh edition in 2014, the Gulf Film Festival is the biggest cinematographic event of the region and an aspiring international film festival destination. And indeed, the festival provides a unique opportunity for visitors to get a more in-depth knowledge of the regional film culture. The festival hosts four official competitions, including Gulf Features and International Shorts. 169 movies were presented at the 2013 edition, with the GermanSaudi ArabianUAE movie Wadjda claiming the award for the best film of the festival.

Dubai Festival City, Dubai, UAE. For more information, please visit the festival’s website.



Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

30 April – 5 May

One of the most important cultural events of its kind in the Middle East, the International Book Fair in Abu Dhabi features a six-day programme of literary discussions, talks, readings and book signings. Designed as an event to promote reading and give a boost the publishing industry in the United Arab Emirates, the Abu Dhabi Book Fair has an international edge and multicultural focus thanks to its exciting line-up of well-respected authors and publishers. In addition to the adult-oriented events, the book fair will also feature events to keep children occupied and interested in the world of literature.

Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Al Falah Street, Abu Dhabi, UAE. For more information, please visit the fair’s website.


Abu Dhabi International Book Fair
© Abu Dhabi International Book Fair