Top things to do in Dubai – La Perle

There’s much less to do in Dubai in summer – but for that very reason, you’ll find excellent deals on many activities that may be too expensive during the peak winter months.

One such deal we found recently was for La Perle, the stunning water acrobatics show that has taken the city by storm since its launch in July last year.


The pool that forms the centre of the action at La Perle

Famously choreographed by Franco Dragone, an impresario who has worked with Cirque du Soliel in Las Vegas, La Perle is a fabulous spectacle that unites song, dance, acrobatics, sets and visuals and kept us entertained without missing a beat, for nearly an hour and a half.

So what are a few things you need to know about La Perle?

1. Getting there

La Perle is staged at its own custom-built, eponymous venue near the St. Regis hotel in Al Habtoor City (not far from Dubai Mall). There are 2 shows every day, one at 7 PM and one at 9:30 PM. La Perle is in the same complex as the character-filled The City Grill restaurant – a meat-heavy South African place we’d stumbled on accidentally last year. We ubered it to La Perle, but the venue does offer valet parking. Though we were really early, we were let in and permitted to go upstairs almost instantly. By the time we ordered nachos and popcorn, made trips to the loo and forced the menfolk to take a couple of pictures, it was time to be ushered in to the theatre.

2. Where to sit at La Perle

The La Perle theatre is rather like an ellipse, and at the mouth of the ellipse is the stage. Towards the centre is a round pool that plays a very important part in the proceedings. The seating is arranged all around the ellipse. Before buying my tickets, I’d looked at reviews online and all of them were unanimous in saying that one didn’t need to buy the most expensive tickets to get the best experience. Since my wallet only permitted bronze tickets for four, this was a godsend. The thing to watch out for while booking is whether the stage is obstructed. The round pool in the centre is visible wherever you sit, but the far end of the stage, at the mouth of the ellipse, is obstructed if you sit on either side of it.

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A glimpse of the stage and seating as you book

In the image above, everything below the black line is obstructed. The red line shows where we sat. While booking I’d seen the legend ‘stage obstructed’ and ‘stage partially obstructed’ while hovering on the seats, and without fully understanding what that meant, I bought the ones just outside that (as marked in red). All along, I’d assumed the pool in the centre was where all the action happened, when actually quite a lot of it happens in the open part of the ellipse above, where the arrow is positioned. As it so happens that part of the stage was still not 100% visible from where I sat, but that’s fine.


A view of the far end of the stage, which was slightly obstructed from our seats

Other than that, however, you can sit just about anywhere and enjoy the show. It’s not like other events I’ve been to where my faraway cheap tickets have significantly lessened my short-sighted enjoyment of the show. In fact, the bronze tickets give us a much better overall sense of the show. There is so much happening that from the lower gold and platinum seats, you’re almost too close to the action to gain full perspective.

3. The plot and the show

While the show follows a loose storyline, it’s not really important to understand it to enjoy the whole experience. All I got was that there was a young girl (in a Snow-White-style haircut), who found a pearl, lost a pearl, found the pearl again, lost the pearl again, found the pearl…and this goes on for a while till the pearl is well and truly found. There’s an evil king, who turns out not to be evil (was he evil though? I thought him pushing someone in to the pool was pretty mean), a minister who actually is evil, a hunky rustic type who is Snow White girl’s love interest and some evil musclemen.

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One of the beautiful acrobatic moments during the show  

The show has something to please everyone – a gorgeously put together soundtrack that apparently features live musicians; light and sound effects; motorcycle stunts; trapeze artistes, jaw-dropping diving moves, rain (yes, rain!) and much more. Like any good composition, it has moments of excitement alternating with moments of calm; heightened emotion leavened by lighter feeling; and action balanced by reflection.

4. How to get tickets to La Perle

It’s only after you watch the show you understand why the tickets are priced so high. Quite simply, quality doesn’t come cheap. Whether it’s the skills of the performers or the expertise of the crew, everything works so smoothly that you never see the tremendous effort behind it all. If you follow them on Instagram like I do (laperledxb) you’ll see great behind the scenes footage. Apparently each show is different, so props to them for nailing it each time.

I bought my bronze tickets off and they were at 40% off. There are regular discounts and offers, so watch out for these on social media. Each ticket cost AED 252 after discount.

5. The dress code

This was something I really struggled with. I saw conflicting information everywhere. I guess as long as you don’t wear shorts and flip-flops you’ll be fine. I did not see anyone being turned away because of their attire. There were many people casually dressed in jeans and sports shoes, but equally, there were folks who’d bothered to dress up. A semi-formal dress and a blazer would be perfect.

My final takeaway? La Perle is quite unlike any other show in Dubai. It’s over the top but tastefully so, a spectacle when you’re watching it and an unforgettable memory once you’re done. Do go see it for yourselves – you won’t be disappointed.