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Look back on the 2010s: 20 UAE cultural touchstones of the decade

David Light
Filed on December 30, 2019
Look back on the 2010s: 20 UAE cultural touchstones of the decade

In 2013 we won the Expo 2020 bid!
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Tom Cruise kicks things off in 2010
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MEFCC gets going in 2012
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Star Trek makes Dubai home base
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Kylie celebrates 50 years of rugby
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Look back on the 2010s: 20 UAE cultural touchstones of the decade (https://images.khaleejtimes.com/storyimage/KT/20191230/ARTICLE/191239955/H1/0/H1-191239955.jpg&MaxW=300&NCS_modified=20200105150505

What a decade we have witnessed. Remember BlackBerrys? And the Harlem Shake? Oh, and Snooki? Of course the last ten years have also brought unprecedented global social upheaval and a dramatic re-focus on the world's climate, but you have to hand it to those BlackBerrys - they went from everyone's gadget of choice to absolute obscurity in the blink of an eye. What a feat. In the UAE, where change is encouraged perhaps more so than anywhere else, we have been fortunate enough to see countless developments as the months have ticked by, so we thought we'd share a few of our favourite cultural markers, which made our 2010s so memorable. Here's to an even bigger 2020s.  

November 2010: The Impossible dream?

As a sign of Dubai's burgeoning Hollywood ambitions, the world's most recognisable film star, Tom Cruise, is spotted hanging off the side of the world's tallest tower, The Burj Khalifa, shooting scenes for Mission: Impossible's fourth instalment - Ghost Protocol.

January 2011: Live and let Dubai

Latest James Bond author Jefferey Deaver attends the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature to reveal his book's title, Carte Blanche, and explains how the plot sees 007 arrive in Dubai for a thrilling escapade.

November 2011: Yas-terday

Since its inaugural 2009 edition, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had already attracted its fair share of star power to the Yas Island after-race concerts with names including Beyonce, Kanye West and Aerosmith. However, 2011 arguably sees its biggest coup with the arrival of Britney Spears and none-other than former Beatle, the legendary, Paul McCartney.  

April 2012: Comic relief

A couple of Iron Man films had become hits and all of a sudden the world was in the midst of a 'geek-chic superhero' revolution. Taking a punt a decent amount of regional fan fervour needed a place to shine, the Middle East Film and Comic Con pops up at Dubai World Trade Centre and becomes an instant success. First-edition guests include Jason Momoa, John-Rhys Davies and Luciana Carro. The rest is history.

May 2013: Love yourself

This pint-sized pop sensation is already creating controversy for his tardiness, given the kid audience have school the next day, though it is one of those teenage fans who actually goes on to take the headlines. While sat at the piano on stage at the Sevens Stadium Dubai, Justin Bieber is confronted by a young man who rushes the singer for an ultimately unsuccessful hug attempt.

September 2013: New Year cheer

Bollywood's embrace of the UAE is nothing new, though the filming of Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone starrer Happy New Year in Dubai definitely takes Hindi film production in the emirates up a notch. Atlantis The Palm is practically a central character in the big-budget hit!

November 2013: Expo a go

We are glued to our screens...Dubai wins it. Beating out cities including Sao Paulo, Brazil and Izmir, Turkey, Dubai is awarded Expo 2020 and all the cultural delights that come with it; case in point: Mariah Carey's free Downtown Dubai concert in October 2019 to mark the one-year countdown to the event.

November 2013: A knockout

It was always an odd proposition, but the chance to see former heavyweight champion of the world Mike Tyson take to the Dubai World Trade Centre stage in a Spike Lee-directed monologue about his life story is too much to pass up in the winter of 2013.

February 2014: First Food Fest

While other food events already exist, the 2014 launch of the Dubai Food Festival brings all disparate elements together under one umbrella brand for an almost month-long celebration of the city's cuisine and establishes pop-up bases around town for you to enhance your culinary knowledge.

June 2014: The Force is with us

Summer in the Liwa desert: it doesn't sound like the kindest environment in which to film a blockbuster, yet director J.J. Abrams chooses to begin rebooting the famous Star Wars franchise right here in our backyard with The Force Awakens where the Abu Dhabi dunes double as the planet Jakku.

April 2015: One love

Almost a year previous, queues for tickets had caused bedlam at Mall of the Emirates' Virgin Megastore and, in April 2015, the frenzy only intensifies as British boyband One Direction pack out the Sevens Stadium Dubai where their foppish pop energy creates a UAE sensation.

October 2015: Trekking in

Hot on the tails of Star Wars comes Star Trek's third in the rebooted series, Star Trek Beyond. Hundreds of UAE residents are hired as cast and crew alongside movie actors Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana and Idris Elba as filming begins in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, DIFC and Meydan locations.

August 2016: Squad goals

Spotting The Fresh Prince, Will Smith, in Dubai seemingly becomes easier each year, though having the Hollywood star hold a premiere of his latest movie Suicide Squad at Deira City Centre doesn't happen every day now, does it?

August 2016: Time to say hello

A world-beating area of town housing record-breaking buildings and malls requires a world-class venue, which is what Dubai Opera provides as it opens in Downtown to much fanfare. Holding everything from musicals such as Evita to stand-up comics and even '90s pop group Steps, the classically-appointed building is nothing if not versatile.

December 2017: Last DIFF of the decade

Over 13 years and 14 editions, the Dubai International Film Festival at its Souk Madinat home had brought countless stars from both regional and global cinema to the UAE for an annual celebration of the silver screen. Actors and directors including Patrick Stewart, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terry Gilliam, Oliver Stone and Samuel L. Jackson are mainstays. December of this year sees the final DIFF of the '10s bow out in style with a Zero Gravity club party and firework display.

February 2018: R.I.P. Sridevi

In a terrible shock for all film fans, Bollywood legend Sridevi passes away in a Jumeirah Emirates Hotel Dubai room aged just 54 while in the UAE to attend a family wedding.

September 2018: Shine bright like Rihanna

Hold the phone, one of the most famous women in the world arrives in Dubai, rents out an Armani Hotel ballroom and...gives a makeup tutorial? This is indeed what comes to pass in September 2018 as music phenomenon and Fenty Beauty cosmetics mogul Rihanna hosts a sell-out event. Sought-after ticket prices skyrocket to thousands of dirhams.

June 2019: Always this arena

The Coca-Cola Arena opens in City Walk Dubai and quickly becomes a firm favourite with shows from Westlife, motivational speaker Tony Robbins and Alicia Keys. A strong rotation of acts sees the 17,000-seat site consistently lit.

November 2019: Gary Rhodes passes away

British celebrity chef Gary Rhodes, who called the UAE home since 2011 and lent his name to a number of Dubai's culinary outlets, dies in the city in November 2019 aged 59.

December 2019: 50 up

A Dubai institution, the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens celebrates 50 years with a performance from Australian icon Kylie Minogue. We should be so lucky!

david@khaleejtimes.com 


 
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