2016 – It’s going to be a busy year for the capital. Here are the highlights…


The year may have just begun but it’s shaping up to be another exciting one in the capital with events, festivals and celebrations keeping us entertained over the next 12 months…

We’ve barely had time to take the 2015 calendar off the wall but already we’re looking forward to another great year in the capital. Here’s a look at reasons to be glad you live in Abu Dhabi this year.

World-class events

Teeing off at the end of January the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship will see some of the world’s best golfing talent descend on the city to compete. World number one Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler are among the favourites to take silverware at the championship  which starts on 21st January.


Then head across the E11, to Yas to take part in what has been billed as ‘the ultimate nighttime 5k adventure’ which will literally be lighting up Yas Marina Circuit. The first Daman Activelife Electric Run in Abu Dhabi is going to be a seeming cacophony of luminescence with more LEDs than a 90s underground rave. Taking place on 29th January, it’s simply aimed at ensuring exercise is fun – a great way to maintain that New Year’s fitness kick into Feb.


The year will also get off to a flying start with the unveiling of Ferrari World’s latest ride, Flying Aces, expected in January. This bi-plane themed rollercoaster will whizz thrill seekers up to speeds of 120kph along a 1.5km track with loop-the-loops and gravity defying twists and turns.

Classical music aficionados will be counting down the days until Martha Argerich takes the stage. The Argentinian pianist is considered by many as one of the world’s greatest living interpreters of classical music and she will be making her first appearance in the UAE capital on 2nd February as part of Abu Dhabi Classics. She will be joined by her friend, star violinist Gidon Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica Chamber Orchestra. Simply put this is a must-not-miss performance.

Meanwhile, the NYUAD Arts Center and its hard-working curator of programmes, Bill Bragin (read more about his work at abudhabiweek.ae), have a storming line-up ready for culture vultures in 2016. It all gets underway in February with Desert Storm, a mini festival (only in name), which promotes diverse musical talent from the region. Among other scene-setters it will feature the likes of LA-based Saudi musician Rotana Tarabzouni whose music walks a curious line between alternative and cinematic pop. The medium of dance will then take a rhythmical and robotic turn at NYUAD in March when acclaimed Taiwanese choreographer, dancer and inventor Huang Yi takes to the stage with his robotic companion KUKA. And finally another highlight that will definitely create some sparks of interest, while nicely complementing the Abu Dhabi Science Festival expected at the end of this year, will be the Imagine Science Film Festival. This will be the second instalment of the festival and focuses on ‘Air’ as a unifying theme. Presenting five programmes of features and short films along with Q&As and panels, it aims to bring scientists and artists together to facilitate greater levels of communication.

If that doesn’t satiate your appetite for a cultural celebration, then the Abu Dhabi Festival has a lot more to bring to the table. Running from 3rd to 30th April, the arts programme boasts a non-stop exploration of top international talent. Highlights include a recital by renowned Chinese piano virtuoso Lang Lang, as well as a concert adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s iconic tale The Little Prince. Completing the cultural smorgasbord, French symphony the Orchestre de Paris will deliver two classical concerts, while Cuban ballet superstar Carlos Acosta will be leaping to the stage with classical ballet excerpts alongside his company.


Welsh wonder Tom Jones has already confirmed his comeback date to perform in the capital appearing at du Arena on 15th April. Three years since his last performance in the emirate, the show is already generating a buzz as fans across the UAE grab tickets to see the singer in action on Yas Island.

We can also look forward to a jam-packed Abu Dhabi Summer Season events schedule and the exciting Yasalam 2016 announcements to be added to your calendar as the year rolls on.

It may seem now that you have had your fill of Formula One action but the sport will come screeching back to the UAE in November once again. Lewis Hamilton, the current world champion, will be looking to enter the record books by becoming the first Brit to win four Drivers Championships in the history of the sport. Will he be in pole position when the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place? We’ll have to wait and see.


Finally, after cancelling a number of dates on her first international tour, Ariana Grande is expected to reschedule a date in Abu Dhabi in 2016. Fans were left disappointed to miss out but the pop princess took to Twitter to calm distraught Arianators and assure us she would make a stop in the capital this year.

Saadiyat – setting the scene


With the final pieces being assembled and the exhibits poised to be transported to the site, it’s sure to be an exciting year for one of Abu Dhabi’s most ambitious and holty-anticipated projects to date. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is pencilled in for a mid-year opening date and will bring with it a major injection of culture and interest to the capital and the ever-growing Saadiyat Island.

Years in the making, the alluring dome-shaped structure is clearly visible from
the Sheikh Zayed Bridge as you drive over to Saadiyat Island and soon we will be
able to step inside and take in the impressive architecture, design and execution of
the structure.


The completion of the museum will be closely followed by the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in 2017 and the spectacular-looking Zayed National Museum as Saadiyat transforms itself in to one of the must-visit locations in the Gulf.

Destination Abu Dhabi

A host of international conferences with worldwide implications are set to be held in the capital this year.

During Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week from 18th to 21st January the spotlight will be shone on green projects to better the world and solve growing global problems.

The UAE is already making moves to target water shortage in the region with a range of projects including research in to producing environmentally-friendly desalination techniques. Bringing international experts to the city to discuss ideas and generate conversation, the International Water Summit held in the capital will reinforce the UAE’s commitment to sustainability and long-term planning.

In the same week The World Future Energy Summit 2016 will open the floor to more ideas on how to generate energy in a sustainable way. The city’s Masdar Institute and its work on solar energy projects have already displayed the UAE’s commitment
to research in this area with progress being made here and abroad to produce energy
in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way.

Living in Abu Dhabi

Living in Abu Dhabi is a great experience, but one that could be in for a few changes in 2016.

A new property law, No. (3) of 2015 Regulating Real Estate Sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, has been published and will take effect in January. It is intended to provide more protections for buyers. While it does not, however, include a rent cap, it is still possible this might come in 2016.

Around the World

2016 is set to be an exciting year with so much going on across the globe.

Major sporting events including The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, as well as UEFA Euro 2016, will keep us on the edge of our seat throughout the year.

In the world of film, Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, Independence Day: Resurgence, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Captain America: Civil War and Finding Dory are expected to storm the box office.

In music we can expect albums from Kanye West, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Elton John and more chart-topping singles to provide the soundtrack to the year.

The US Presidential election, the Juno probe’s arrival at Jupiter, part two of Solar Impulse’s round-the-world flight, and India’s first manned space flight are also sure to grab headlines as 2016 goes on. Here’s to an exciting 2016!

WORDS Colin Armstrong
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