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UAE comedy fans have the last laugh as inaugural Dubai Comedy Festival draws over 30,000 comedy fans

Multicultural line-up including international icons Dave Chappelle and Trevor Noah performing alongside emerging Arab and Indian talents set the standard for future iterations.


Dubai delivered another world-class success with the inaugural edition of the Dubai Comedy Festival, held on 15-24 October 2015. Featuring some of the world’s best comedy stars including Dave Chappelle and Trevor Noah, the Festival attracted over 30,000 fans, who flocked to shows and free street performances held across Dubai over the course of 10 days. The Festival put Dubai on the map as the Middle East region’s comedy hub by shining a spotlight on home-grown talent such as Ali Al Sayed and Nitin Mirani as well as regional talent such as Bader Saleh, Ibraheem Al Khairallah, Fahad Al Butairi, Waddah Swar, Mohammed Salem and Adi Khalefa, who not only performed to packed venues but also got the chance to meet and interact with the headliners and other industry veterans.


The inaugural comedy festival further enhanced Dubai’s reputation as a city for world-class events, with a stellar debut that saw performances by Hannibal Buress, Jerrod Carmichael, Mo Amer and Mac King in addition to headliners Trevor Noah and Dave Chappelle. The festival was representative of Dubai’s diverse and multicultural population with a host of familiar faces from the Middle East’s comedy circuit leading the laughs at the Arabic-language Dubai 3al Wagef, which attracted audiences from the GCC and Levant. In addition, five of India’s top comedians took to the stage at the popular Desi Invasion show, which appealed to expats and visitors alike. The festival also showcased diverse facets of humour and provided a global platform for world-class talents specialising in comedy styles such as street acts, children’s shows, stand-up and theatre.


“With the Dubai Comedy Festival, we wanted to bring these incredible regional acts to the mainstream and give them a global stage to perform, interact and learn from the best in the industry,\" stated Issam Kazim,CEO, Dubai Tourism. The Festival saw over 33 shows staged over 10 days at select venues across the city, including the custom-made 4,500-seat Main Stage at Sky Dive Dubai, DUCTAC, Meyana Theatre at Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah Theater and partner venues on the Comedy Strip at JBR Walk. The Festival also saw street performers from around the globe put on free interactive shows on JBR Walk every day, offering visitors and families a daily dose of laughter and excitement.


Dave Chappelle pulled no punches during his two-nights on the Main Stage, entertaining full houses each night, with his take on pop culture, history and parenthood. With unforgettable warm up acts by Mo Amer and Donnell Rawlings, Chappelle’s performances were a master class in storytelling, commentary and humour.Trevor Noah, who recently took on the mantle at The Daily Show, closed the event with an uproarious 90-minute set that was a fitting conclusion to the festival. Noah was greeted by a full house of fans, who cheered his anecdotal delivery, which touched on race relations in America, brunch in Dubai and the health system in the UK.


“Comedy is important because it is of interest to all the source markets we target. Our aim at the end of the day, as Dubai Tourism, is to attract 20 million visitors by 2020. What we focus on is creating key events and festivals to ensure that our calendar is full of attractions so that almost every weekend there is something that is happening in Dubai that makes it very easy for people to visit Dubai and also to convince others to come with them,” said Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Tourism. 

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