Image Credit: Sole Dxb

Dubai’s top festival for all things cool and hip is back. Sole Dxb, now on it’s fifth edition, began as a small gathering for those passionate about sneaker culture. It’s now become a two-day celebration of sneakers, music, fashion, art and everything in between, with major names in attendance this year including music icon Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC fame and tennis and shoe legend Stan Smith. To be held at the Dubai Design District (d3), we’ve done the legwork for you and compiled some convincing reasons you should be at Sole Dxb this week.

Meet celebrities

What: Run DMC’s Darryl McDaniels and tennis legend Stan Smith

When: November 20

Time: 3.30 to 4pm (Smith) and 6.30 to 7pm (McDaniels)

In the 80s, Run DMC, often known as one of the most influential acts in hip-hop history, famously turned around the fortunes of adidas by rapping about it. So, at this year’s Sole Dxb, adidas Originals is bringing Darryl McDaniels, one half of the iconic group and one of the writers of the 1986 hit My Adidas, to Dubai. McDaniels will be joined by tennis legend Stan Smith, whose Stan Smith shoe, also made by adidas, is now one of the most iconic sneaker styles, and still very cool after four decades. Both stars will meet fans and also attend a panel session at the adidas stand.

Attend talks

What: Various

When: Both days

Time: 3 to 7pm

The talk sessions will feature the who’s who in music, fashion and art. Day one will see discussions about the evolution of Stampd, the luxury streetwear brand with founder Chris Stamp; another session by Bobbito Garcia, the filmmaker, sneaker expert and cultural activist; a look at the history of denim with Mohsin Sajid, founder of the label Endrime; and a talk with Lisa Leone, who has documented the evolution of hip hop through her photographs.

On day two, Puma’s Yassine Saidi will talk about how sport and urban culture influence the fashion market, followed by denim expert Amy Leverton, who will discuss her book Denim Dudes and upcoming Denim Dudettes, and sign copies. Other talks include musician Yassin ‘Narcy’ Al Salman’s session on his Montreal based hip-hop course at Concordia University; Guillaume Philibert on his journey building his footwear label Filling Pieces to a globally recognised one; and long-time collaborators and friends, artist Hassan Hajjaj and fashion designer Amine Bendriouich, on their overlapping worlds of art.

Refer to the Sole Dxb website for specific timings.

Mobb Deep in concert

What: Mobb Deep

When: November 21

Time: 9.30pm

Rappers Havoc and Prodigy are Mobb Deep, often called one of the most critically acclaimed hard-core East Coast hip-hop groups. Hailing from Queensbridge, New York, Mobb Deep released their landmark album The Infamous … 20 years ago in April 1995. The album combined their now trademark gritty, often violent lyrics with heavy, sample laden, atmospheric beats. All of their subsequent albums have sold well, particularly 1999’s Murda Muzik, which earned them their first Platinum album.



Musical performances

What: Regional artists and DJs performing

When: Both days

Time: Check Sole Dxb website

Some of the region’s best artists and DJs are part of the music programme this year. The list includes live electronic music band Alo Wala, UAE-based MC-trio The Recipe with DJ Shero and DJs Tom Crane, Iamnobodi, Dave Lubin, Megadon, Shef Codes, Shadi Megallaa, James Locksmith, Kev Fresh, Essarai, Frezidante, Mocity, Aeli, Aku Aries and JC Pinto.

Dubai R ‘n’ B singer Nile, Saudi rapper Majeed, Syrian-Palestinian rapper Moh Flow, Arab hip-hop singer Malikah complete the line-up.



Designers, artists and exclusive launches

What: Top shoe designers and artists

When: Both days

Time: Various

Some of the top labels will be bringing well-known names from around the world this year, and making major world-first launches. Level Shoe District will bring Victor Hsu, the man behind acclaimed shoe brand Facto, who will present his autumn-winter collection. Adidas will host artist Josh Parkin, who will do live illustrations on November 20 from 1 to 11pm at its stand. Reebok is flying down Los Angeles jewellery designer Melody Ehsani, who will launch her new Reebok Classic collection globally on Saturday, November 21, from 5 to 6pm while edgy Dubai beauty parlour SoH Art +Beauty has partnered with Reebok to compose a menu for sneaker customisations to help you create new looks for shoes. Available on both days.

Ray-Ban will celebrate #Campaign4Change at its space, which will feature a ‘Speak the Truth’ confession booth, where visitors can proudly confess their deepest secrets on a T-shirt and wear it for all to see, and a tattoo parlour where visitors can profess their love with temporary tattoos.

Lifestyle brand New Era will release a limited-edition version of Concrete Jungle, a bucket hat, that takes inspiration from ‘urban wilderness’. Featuring an all over camo print, with a discreet Sole Dxb in black rubber imprinted to one side, the hat pays homage to Dubai’s emerging street culture scene. It will be priced at Dh100.

American shoe brand DC Shoes, known for its skateboarding and snowboarding shoes, will host a pop up shop at the event with an in-house artist who will be creating customised skateboards on-site.



Watch movies

What: Films on Court

When: November 19

Time: 6pm to 10pm

Pop-up cinema organisers Cinema Akil will bring two contemporary films on hip hop and street wear culture, both attended by their respective directors, at the basketball court. The event will kick off with a screening of Fresh Dressed, which chronicles the history of hip hop and its rise from southern cotton plantations to the gangs of 1970s in South Bronx to corporate America. Music historian Sacha Jenkins, who directed the film, will also attend and participate in a Q&A right after.

The film, Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives, will be screened at 8pm. Directed by Bobbito Garcia, the film chronicles iconic radio show, The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show, which introduced the world to unsigned artists such as Nas, Biggie, Wu-Tang, and Big Pun as well as an then-unknown Jay Z, Eminem and the Fugees. The total record sales for all the artists that premiered on their radio show exceed 300 million. The late night programme had a cult following in the art/fashion world and created a platform that changed music forever. Armstrong and Garcia will also attend.

There will be popcorn, but age restrictions may apply for screenings. It’s 15+ for Fresh Dressed and 18+ for Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives.

Sneaker swap

What: Meet the region’s sneakerheads

When: Both days

Time: All day

Some of the Middle East’s most passionate sneakerheads will display their prized possessions at the event. And if you ask nicely, they might just be up for a trade. Organisers have assembled around 20 collectors from across the region who they’ve proudly called Sole Collectors. Also don’t miss our interview with five obsessive UAE sneaker collectors.

Play some ball

What: Basketball tournament

When: Both days

Time: All day

What’s an urban and streetwear festival without a bit of basketball? A fixture at Sole Dxb, the Ball Above All Classic Tournament features 11 hand-picked teams with league organisers changing up the format this year. Check out the website for details, but suffice to say, the winning team gets to go home with Dh10,000. There is no entry fee to play in the tournament but you must be 18 or older.



Sole Dxb runs from November 20 — 21 at d3. Register in advance for tickets for free entry before 3pm. Otherwise it’s Dh100 on the door.