Jungles, tribal dancers, trapeze artists and neon puppets take centre stage as the Summer in Abu Dhabi festival opens today. The events, which officials expect to draw about 150,000 visitors, offer air-conditioned entertainment during the sweltering summer.
Faisal al Sheikh, the head of events management at the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, said: "ADTA's vision is to bring the city alive in all seasons and in summer we focus on domestic tourism and families. "The programme is meant to enliven the summers in Abu Dhabi. We want to create events for Abu Dhabi visitors. With the programme, there is going to be 45 days of excitement. It is also meant to increase the use of rooms in hotels."
Now in its second year, the festival in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) is bigger than last year's - which ran for four weeks - and showcases large-scale attractions, including a circus and a magic show on ice. People typically leave the capital during the summer, but Mr al Sheikh said the festival would tempt GCC residents to visit Abu Dhabi. "We just came back from a roadshow in GCC countries," said Dayne Lim Kok Chun, the director of product development with the ADTA.
"We are working with 15 tourism companies and stakeholders in six cities in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and other places." The festival has increased in size since last year. Mr al Sheikh said the improvements and expansion were based on feedback from people attending previous festivals. This year, for instance, the sports section has been expanded and more cultural performances have been included.
More than 200 performers from 12 countries will present shows ranging from rock music highlighted by Tesla coils erupting with raw electricity, to dance performances by native tribes. Adnec has devoted seven halls to the festival, one section of which will showcase Emirati crafts and culture. The halls are divided into five "islands": science and technology, sport, adventure, heritage and culture, and entertainment.
Mr al Sheikh said South African Zulus, Native Americans and indigenous Australians would perform native songs and dances in the heritage and culture section. The festival's main events include the Freij Circus, to be held in an air-conditioned big top. The show, which will run from Sunday to August 15 twice per night, will feature clowns, Brazilian dance spectaculars, Colombian trapeze champions and tiger, elephant and dog shows.
Magic on Ice, another marquee event, will run from August 1 to 15, except August 9. Summer in Abu Dhabi will be open every weekday from 2pm to 10pm. On weekdays, it will open until midnight. Tickets are available at the door and cost Dh40 (US$11) for adults and Dh30 for children younger than 12 years old. For Magic on Ice, held at the Zayed Sports Complex ice rink, adult entry costs an additional Dh200. Children under 12 can get in for Dh75.
The circus, which will seat 1,200 people per show, costs Dh125 for front row, Dh100 for adults and Dh50 for children. firstname.lastname@example.org