World’s largest floating nightclub opens on Dubai’s historic QE2 cruise liner

World’s largest floating nightclub opens on Dubai’s historic QE2 cruise liner
Float Dubai, billed as ‘the world’s largest floating nightclub,’ still faces COVID-19 restrictions. ((File/Shutterstock)
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Updated 16 October 2021

World’s largest floating nightclub opens on Dubai’s historic QE2 cruise liner

World’s largest floating nightclub opens on Dubai’s historic QE2 cruise liner
  • Float Dubai, billed as ‘the world’s largest floating nightclub,’ still faces COVID-19 restrictions
  • Ship, launched by namesake Queen Elizabeth II in 1967, has sailed over 6m nautical miles

LONDON: The world’s largest floating nightclub has opened onboard the retired Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship in Dubai.

The luxury Float Dubai venue, which can accommodate 1,000 people, hosted an opening party on Thursday ahead of its first weekend.

Celebrities including American actress Lindsay Lohan, rapper DaBaby and British boxer Amir Khan are expected to appear aboard the ship this weekend, which once hosted the likes of Hollywood stars Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.

But due to the coronavirus pandemic, partying will be limited, with tables needing to be booked in advance, security guards preventing people from standing up and dancing, and plainclothes police officers patroling the venue to prevent infringements. 

Dubai extended the strictest anti-COVID-19 measures in the UAE, with seating rules in many hospitality venues only relaxed in August this year.

Many are now allowed to stay open until 3 a.m., but social distancing measures remain in place.

Rob Smith, a British expat who attended Float Dubai’s opening night, told The Times: “It feels so good to see things opening back up again. It feels like things are getting back to normal.”

The QE2 was bought by Dubai government entity DP World, controlled by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, in 2008 for around $88 million.

Parts of the vessel were converted into a hotel in 2018, with plans to base it off the Palm Jumeirah island resort.

The club’s opening was delayed by the onset of the pandemic, with the rooms left vacant and the QE2 subsequently relocated to Rashid Port, where its monthly upkeep is estimated at around £650,000 ($893,424).

British expat Lara Rogers added: “The ship has an eerie vibe to it. It’s a shame to see it like this. It needs some TLC (tender loving care) to bring it back to life because it has so much history here within these walls. Maybe the club can help inject some excitement for it again.”

The QE2 was originally launched in 1967 by Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland. At 963 feet, it is estimated to have carried over 2.5 million passengers over its lifetime, traveled around 6 million nautical miles, circumnavigated the globe 25 times, and even served as a British troop ship during the Falklands War in 1982.


‘Perfect Strangers’: Secrets and lies are served up for dinner

‘Perfect Strangers’: Secrets and lies are served up for dinner
‘Perfect Strangers’ is now streaming on Netflix. Supplied
Updated 27 January 2022

‘Perfect Strangers’: Secrets and lies are served up for dinner

‘Perfect Strangers’: Secrets and lies are served up for dinner

CHENNAI: One cannot refute the revolution that the advent of mobile phones sparked, but there is another side to the cellular story — it holds all of one's intimate secrets, as we see in Netflix's first Arabic original film, “As-hab wala A'az” or “Perfect Strangers.” First created in Italian in 2016 with the same title, it has been remade 18 times in different countries — such as France, Germany, Spain, Greece and South Korea — a stellar record for a seemingly simple premise. What is more, the movie grossed $270 million worldwide. So, the Arabic edition arrived on Netflix this week with a lot of expectation. 

The latest film captures the fear that the small gadget can open a Pandora's Box of intimate secrets. On the face of it, the story seems harmless enough with seven friends gathering for dinner and deciding to a play a strange sort of game. But the plot soon veers into the disturbing, with skeletons and secrets making their way out into the open, including the sorts of details one does not usually want to discuss at a dinner table.

First created in Italian in 2016 with the same title, it has been remade 18 times in different countries. Supplied

Hosts May (Nadine Labaki) and Walid (Georges Khabbaz) are entwined in a dry, loveless marriage. They are having a trying time with their rebellious teenage daughter. One evening, they invite friends over for a meal, and each is struggling through his or her life. Maryam and Sherif (Mona Zaki and Eyad Nassar) are having their own troubles bringing up their two children, while Ziad and Jana (Diamond Abou Abboud and Adel Karam) are newlyweds, but have a lurking fear that their passion could disappear. Meanwhile, Rabih (Faoud Yammine) shows up for the party without his girlfriend – and this is the starting point of the group’s conversations.

As May watches everybody's possessiveness about phones, she suggests they play a game in which each places his or her gadget face up on the middle of the table. And each message has to be read out to the “participants.” There is a bit of unease at this, some hesitation especially from Sherif. But May convinces them that it is after all a game, a harmless one at that. What is more, it could be a lot of fun, she pushes them. 

‘Perfect Strangers’ is captivating and emotionally a blast with the closing shot engaging us with a puzzling twist. Supplied

Fun, did you say? It turns out to be an embarrassment, sheer horror, in fact, for some. As dinner and beverages flow, tongues loosen and defenses crumble, relationships are tested and their foundations  shaken. The seemingly great marriages reveal cracks, and lifelong friendships begin to break. Terrible secrets and private choices are now out in the open.

A trifle too theatrical in its approach, Perfect Strangers is though, captivating and emotionally a blast with the closing shot engaging us with a puzzling twist. In an ensemble cast, it is very difficult to write each character with conviction, but Labaki (renowned for her Cannes Jury Prize for Capernaum) stands out as one who pushes her guests to start a game whose consequences are completely unexpected, and we see the anguish in her. Another actress, Zaki from Egypt has been bold enough to play a difficult part that has angered many, who have targeted her amid online uproar. They have also called the Netflix work destructive of Arab culture. This may seem out of place, for the plot — with 18 remakes —  ought to have been well known, and could not have taken anybody by surprise. 


‘Say Yes to the Dress Arabia’ gets release date

‘Say Yes to the Dress Arabia’ gets release date
Updated 27 January 2022

‘Say Yes to the Dress Arabia’ gets release date

‘Say Yes to the Dress Arabia’ gets release date

DUBAI: The Middle Eastern version of “Say Yes to the Dress” is premiering on Feb. 11 on Starzplay, the streaming service announced on Wednesday. 

The Arab program, which is the 25th spin-off of the popular US series, will feature 20 brides from various cultural backgrounds, ranging in age from 23 to 50, all in search for their dream wedding dress.

The nine-episode show, which is a partnership with US media company Discovery, is hosted by Lebanese celebrity stylist Khalil Zein, who has dressed stars from across the region including Haifa Wehbe, Rahma Riad, Nancy Ajram, Maya Diab and Nadine Nassib Njeim. 

The nine-episode show is hosted by Lebanese celebrity stylist Khalil Zein. (Supplied)

Shot at the Hazar Haute Couture in Dubai, the bridal boutique houses a collection of dresses ranging from $615 to $14,000. 

During a virtual event held on Wednesday, the organizers shared a sneak peak of the show, revealing some of the brides who will be part of the show. 

Among the women spotted is a part-Saudi bride, Sabrin, who appears on the show with her family. 

The series will also feature Egyptian beauty influencer and vitiligo advocate Logina Salah, Dubai-based fitness blogger Amy Fox and Iraqi-Polish radio presenter Eve Jaso. 

Fox and Jaso, who attended the press event, shared some of their favorite highlights from the show. 

The series will also feature Iraqi-Polish radio presenter Eve Jaso. (Supplied)

“(It is) definitely definitely putting the dress that I chose on and just feeling like I can be myself in this dress. It just fitted my whole personality, my whole vibe. I didn’t feel restricted. I felt like I could move . . . It was just the best moment,” Fox said.

For Jaso, her favorite memory of the show was “finding everyone in tears,” she said. “You think that being on a TV show, there is not going to be emotion, there is not going to be feelings, but I walked away from that show feeling like everyone was just crying. It was a shock.”

During the event, Zein expressed his gratitude at being part of the Starzplay original series.

“As everyone knows, your wedding day is one of the most monumental days of your life. So being able to take part in making sure the brides feel their best on their big day really means a lot to me,” he said.  


‘Dubai Hologram Universe’ launches with show dedicated to Egyptian star Abdel Halim Hafez

‘Dubai Hologram Universe’ launches with show dedicated to Egyptian star Abdel Halim Hafez
Updated 27 January 2022

‘Dubai Hologram Universe’ launches with show dedicated to Egyptian star Abdel Halim Hafez

‘Dubai Hologram Universe’ launches with show dedicated to Egyptian star Abdel Halim Hafez

DUBAI: It is never too late to attend a concert by legendary Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez — thanks to hologram technology — and organizers are marking the launch of the “Dubai Hologram Universe” at the Al Habtoor City Theatre with a show dedicated toward the late artist on Jan. 30.

“Dubai Hologram Universe” is a joint venture by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) in collaboration with New Dimension Productions (NDP) and will feature state-of-the-art hologram concerts by legendary singers and musicians twice a week at the Al Habtoor City venue.

The tribute concert, titled “Sawwah,” saw media guests enjoy a hologram of Hafez singing some of his most famous songs. (Supplied)

Arab News attended a press preview that took place earlier this week.  

The tribute concert, titled “Sawwah,” saw media guests enjoy a hologram of Hafez – who died in 1977 aged just 47 – singing some of his most famous songs. 

The 90-minute concert featured six backing vocalists who got a chance to sing alongside the star years after his passing. (Supplied)

With live musicians performing behind Hafez, the show kicked off with the star’s hit “Awel Marra,” which he sang in his 1957 movie “El-Wesada El-Khalya.” 

As ardent fans admired Hafez’s hologram figure, which replicated his body movements and facial expressions, a group of dancers joined the show for an immersive visual experience. 

With live musicians performing behind Hafez, the show kicked off with the star’s hit “Awel Marra.” (Supplied)

One song after the other, the eight performers wowed the audience with contemporary dance moves that hit every beat of Hafez’s music. 

The theater’s various special effects, ranging from water falls to haze, gave a modern twist to the music sensation’s show.  

The 90-minute concert featured six backing vocalists who got a chance to sing alongside the star years after his passing. 

One song after the other, the eight performers wowed the audience with contemporary dance moves that hit every beat of Hafez’s music. (Supplied)

Music fans also watched the celebrated singer, nicknamed the “Nightingale,” perform “Betlomooni Leh,” “Asmar Ya Asmarani,” “Balash Etab,” “Gana El-Hawa,” “Bahebek” and more. 

The show ended with a rendition of “Sawwah,” which he released in 1972.

The theater’s various special effects, ranging from water falls to haze, gave a modern twist to the music sensation’s show. (Supplied)

During his career, Hafez, who was also an actor, conductor, businessman, music teacher and movie producer, appeared in 15 films and produced more than 200 songs.

In 2019, fans of the singer were able to watch a similar light show in Jeddah.

Music fans also watched the celebrated singer perform “Betlomooni Leh,” “Asmar Ya Asmarani” and “Balash Etab.” (Supplied)

He is not the only late star who fans have been able to enjoy on stage. The late Egyptian songstress Umm Kulthum also appeared in 2019 at the Winter at Tantora festival and at the Dubai Opera in 2020. 

“Dubai Hologram Universe,” which, according to organizers is the world’s first regular hologram series to focus on immersive digital entertainment, will feature future concerts by holograms of Umm Kulthum, Warda Al-Jazairia and more.


Gig guide: Diriyah E-Prix 2022 entertainment preview

Gig guide: Diriyah E-Prix 2022 entertainment preview
Updated 27 January 2022

Gig guide: Diriyah E-Prix 2022 entertainment preview

Gig guide: Diriyah E-Prix 2022 entertainment preview
  • The lowdown on the lineup for this weekend’s post-race concerts

Craig David presents TS5

Who: Multi-talented British pop star from Southampton who rose to fame when he was still a teenager. His first album “Born to Do It,” released in 2000, was the fastest-selling debut album by a British male solo artist. His decline in popularity was equally swift — aided in part by becoming an object of ridicule on the TV show “Bo’ Selecta!” After a string of mediocre albums that sold increasingly poorly, it seemed like he was doomed to obscurity. However, now aged 40, David — a singer-songwriter, DJ, rapper and producer, has regained much of the credibility that he lost. TS5 is an alter-ego that David first revealed in 2012 when DJing at pre-parties he hosted in his Miami penthouse (TS5 is the apartment number). It has since developed into a project that combines several of his passions — DJing, rapping, singing and sometimes performing with a live band. He has a new album due out this year.

Genre: R&B, dance-pop.

Best known for: 1999’s “Re-Rewind,” a collaboration with the Artful Dodger which became one of the most recognized UK garage tracks and helped push garage music into the mainstream.

In his own words: “My songs are a time stamp for a lot of people’s lives.”

James Blunt

Who: English singer-songwriter beloved by people for whom Coldplay might be “a bit edgy.” The former soldier had a meteoric rise to fame with his debut album, 2004’s “Back to Bedlam,” which sold more than 11 million copies around the world. He became a divisive figure — ridiculed by many for what they saw as bland, wishy-washy music best suited for background noise at posh dinner parties, but championed by just as many for penning some easy-listening classics. He is now hugely popular on social media for his self-deprecating humor, which has forced many to re-evaluate their opinion of him. Expect to hear plenty of examples of his wit onstage in Diriyah.

Genre: Pop-rock.

Best known for: 2005’s “You’re Beautiful,” which seemed to be in constant rotation at radio stations around the world for the following 10 years.

In his own words: “Proof that one song is all you need.”

Wyclef Jean

Who: Haitian rapper, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, actor and three-time Grammy winner who first gained attention as a member of the seminal US alt-hip-hop band Fugees (with his cousin Pras Michel and Lauryn Hill), whose second album, 1996’s “The Score” became one of the best-selling LPs of all time. When they split up, Jean went on to have a successful solo career, with 13 studio albums under his belt and some hugely popular collaborations with Mary J. Blige, Lil Wayne, Destiny’s Child and Shakira, among others. He also garnered headlines in 2010, when he announced his intention to run in the Haitian presidential elections. He was eventually ruled ineligible because he had not been a resident for the requisite amount of time.

Genre: Hip-hop, R&B, neo-soul.

Best known for: “Gone till November,” released in 1997, from his debut solo album “The Carnival.” This earworm had orchestral accompaniment provided by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

In his own words: “I’d say music resonates if you base your stories on real events.”

Two Door Cinema Club

Who: The most left-field selection from this year’s Diriyah E-Prix lineup, this Irish trio — frontman Alex Trimble, lead guitarist Sam Halliday, and bassist and keyboardist Kevin Baird — are UK festival alumni who formed while still at high school (as Life Without Rory) and recorded their debut, self-recorded EP, in 2008. “Four Words to Stand On” gained an online following (it wasn’t officially released until 2018) and the band began to generate buzz through their live shows. Their debut studio album, “Tourist History,” demonstrated Two Door Cinema Club’s knack for blending catchy, angular indie-pop music with literary lyricism and earned comparisons with Editors, Bloc Party and Futureheads. After an acrimonious not-quite-split around 2014, when Trimble was, he has said, “depressed and stressed,” the band overcame their differences and have continued to perform together.

Genre: Indie-rock, post-punk.

Best known for: “What You Know,” which was released in 2011 — the fifth single from “Tourist History.” It didn’t sell particularly well, but was picked up by Microsoft for online ads for Outlook.

In their own words: “There’s a lot of very safe music out there. We wanted to have some fun and do something that was truly interesting.”

The Script

Who: Another Irish trio (lead vocalist Danny O’Donoghue, lead guitarist Mark Sheehan, and drummer Glen Power), The Script formed in 2007 and were quickly signed to Sony imprint Photogenic. Their self-titled debut album, released in 2008, spawned three successful singles and hit number one in both Ireland and the UK (as did their next three LPs). Their radio-friendly lighter-waving anthems have been featured in numerous TV shows and The Script have sold more than 20 million albums to date. Initially met with skepticism by rock fans (thanks in no small part to the fact that O’Donoghue and Sheehan were formerly part of a boy band called Mytown), they have since earned respect (perhaps grudgingly at first) for their undeniably catchy songwriting (they wrote for Britney Spears and Boyz II Men, among others, before becoming famous) and musicianship.

Genre: Pop-rock.

Best known for: Their second single, 2008’s anthemic stadium singalong “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved.” Or maybe 2010’s anthemic stadium singalong “Breakeven,” their first US single, which sold more than 1 million copies in the States.

In their own words: “I think a lot of musicians would turn around and say, if you’re trying to (fit in), you’ve got it wrong. Personally, I think they’re idiots. If you’re not using the tools in order for you to make a great record that sits on radio, you’re not doing your job.” 


Review: Now on Netflix, WWII spy drama ‘Munich – The Edge of War’ is a mixed bag

Review: Now on Netflix, WWII spy drama ‘Munich – The Edge of War’ is a mixed bag
Updated 25 January 2022

Review: Now on Netflix, WWII spy drama ‘Munich – The Edge of War’ is a mixed bag

Review: Now on Netflix, WWII spy drama ‘Munich – The Edge of War’ is a mixed bag

CHENNAI: After innumerable World War II-focused movies, Christian Schwochow’s “Munich – The Edge of War” is somewhat of a welcome relief worth savoring. The work, based on Robert Harris's novel “Munich,” begins in a delightfully happy atmospheric mood in 1932 with Oxford students celebrating graduation with music and mirth. As the camera zooms in on three close friends – Hugh Legat (George MacKay), Paul Von Hartman (Janis Niewohner) and Lenya (Liv Lisa Fries) – we sense a whiff of what is come, the dark days of Adolf Hitler's (played here by a nasty looking Ulrich Matthes) expansionist plans to take over all of Europe. 

The movie follows three close friends – Hugh Legat (George MacKay), Paul Von Hartman (Janis Niewohner) and Lenya (Liv Lisa Fries). Supplied

After taking the audience to a dread-filled London six years later, Schwochow’s film then veers into the thriller genre, focusing on how Paul and Hugh, now working in government offices in Germany and England respectively, try their best to stop a war that eventually led, as we all know, to catastrophic consequences. Mainly about the 1938 Munich conference and its thwarted peace agreement between the two countries, Munich – The Edge of War beyond this is a fictional account of how the two friends turn spies. Once a passionate advocate of Hitler and his Nazi party with Paul arguing at Oxford how the Germans badly needed an identity that the Fuhrer promised, the young man is later disillusioned by and angry at the way things are turning out. At his brief meeting with Chamberlain, Paul says that it will be a mistake to sign a peace treaty with Hitler, who is nothing but a monster.

The work is based on Robert Harris's novel “Munich.” Supplied

A handsome spy story, it is set in plush offices and pretty gardens (with gorgeous production design by Tim Pannen) where the friends have their rendezvous, often exchanging information and highly classified documents. 

The movie has some tense moments, particularly when Hugh tries to pass off vital information to his prime minister, but on the flip side, “Munich – The Edge of War” can be a little too academic, a trifle too contrived. There is not much to talk about the two lead players — MacKay and Niewohner — who seem more caricatured than real, although Fries is sparkling in the initial sequences conveying a carefree mood that permeated Britain's campuses in the early 1930s.