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Oktoberfest in Dubai's desert?

Rebecca Staudenmaier
April 30, 2021

With the pandemic putting plans for this year's Oktoberfest in Munich in peril, an idea leaked for a huge alternative festival in Dubai. The event boasts the world's largest bar and a party that will run through March.

Munich's Oktoberfest
Munich's Oktoberfest has become an international symbol of Germany — will Dubai be able to adopt it?Image: Sammy Minkoff/imago images

Festivalgoers looking to get their fix of pretzels, beer, dirndls and lederhosen may be turning at the United Arab Emirates instead of Germany this year.

A version of Oktoberfest is being planned for Dubai this fall, German media reported on Thursday.

The as-yet-to-be-confirmed event vows months of festivities that will take place at the same time the metropolis is set to host the World Expo, which was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.

What are the plans?

The festival is set to take place in the Dubai Marina and is slated to run from October 7, 2021, through March 31, 2021.

The event will seek to closely mirror the original Oktoberfest in Munich, according to the German mass-circulation Bild newspaper, which first reported on the plans.

That includes some 32 beer tents, a giant Ferris wheel and even a life-sized replica of the famous Bavaria statue that stands on the festival grounds in Munich.

Bavarian breweries and restauranteurs will be among the 620 businesses that have reportedly signed on to take part.

The Dubai Oktoberfest may mirror the one in Munich, but it also plans a few extravagant extras — including what event organizers say would be the "world's longest beer bar" and a 60-meter (197-foot) maypole.

German singers and bands will be on hand with traditional and party tunes. Even a celebrity lineup has been promised, with guests set to include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pamela Anderson and Steven Seagal, according to Bild.

Charles Blume, the head of the Berlin Christmas market and one of the Oktoberfest Dubai organizers, confirmed the event to news magazine Der Spiegel. He added that Emirati officials have already given the green light to the event.

Alcohol will be allowed on the festival grounds, but attendees will be obliged to take shuttle buses back to their hotels and not walk around the city, Blume said, adding that the compromise was an effort to respect both Emirati and German culture.

Alcohol sales are strictly controlled in the United Arab Emirates, with tourists largely able to purchase and consume it in hotels and other areas.

What's the catch?

While event organizers leaked details of the event to German media on Thursday, the festival itself has yet to be officially confirmed.

Contrary to headlines in German newspapers, Munich's Oktoberfest wouldn't be "moving" to Dubai — the two events are being organized separately.

While event organizers promise a "perfect stay" due to the United Arab Emirates' health and safety procedures with the pandemic, it remains to be seen whether further travel restrictions or advisories could hinder the arrival of festivalgoers.

There's no substitute for Oktoberfest

What's happening with the Munich Oktoberfest this year?

The festival in the southern German city of Munich, and the one that bears the crown of the "world's largest folk festival," has not yet been called off.

However, Germany is currently battling to control a third wave of coronavirus infections and uncertainties surrounding travel and wider tourism.

Oktoberfest was also canceled in 2020 over concerns about crowds and curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

The festival is, for the moment, slated to take place from September 18 through October 3.