Dubai continues to break the mould with its attractions and hotels. Tom Jordan rounds up new headline acts in the emirate and elsewhere
As Dubai Expo 2020 creeps ever nearer, the list of new attractions in the emirate will continue to grow in 2018. Ahead of Arabian Travel Market (April 22-25), the region’s major annual tourism exhibition, we look at some of the exciting new offerings slated to open in Dubai and across the Middle East in the coming months.
What’s new in Dubai?
Ain Dubai, Bluewaters Island
The world’s largest observation wheel is set to begin turning this year after steadily – and spectacularly – being assembled over recent months. Known as Ain Dubai, the wheel will be more than 200m high when complete – around 70m higher than the London Eye. It sits on Bluewaters Island, a development 500m off JBR beach that will house hospitality, entertainment and retail outlets, plus residential properties – and is predicted to attract more than three million visitors annually.
Where: Bluewaters Island, JBR
Opening: 2018, date TBC
Dubai Cityland Mall
Another year, another high-profile mall is set to open in Dubai. This one will feature all the shops and entertainment you’d expect – more than 300 retail outlets and a 12-screen cinema – but it will also boast a refreshing USP: 25 eateries will open on to a huge central, circular open-air garden. Designed by the creators of Dubai Miracle Garden, the open area will incorporate a Japanese garden, pavilions and children’s entertainment in the form of a water play area and amphitheatre for shows.
Where: Near Global Village
Opening: Q4 2018
Adding a touch of Arabian opulence to the previously industrious wharf area on Dubai Creek is an unusual build: three ‘magic lamp’ towers connected by walkways. An as-yet-unnamed 33-storey hotel will occupy one of the towers, with the other two being used as offices. Exactly when the genie will be let out of the bottle is to be confirmed, but it’s expected to open at the end of the year.
Where: Dubai Creek Wharfage
Opening: Q4 2018
Mohammed bin Rashid Library
This seven-storey library, designed to resemble an open book resting on a traditional rehl lectern, will contain 1.5 million print books, 2 million digital books and 1 million audio books. As well as becoming the largest library in the Arab world, the project will also contain a 544-seat auditorium and serve as an international events and conference arena.
Where: Al Jaddaf, Dubai Creek
Opening: Late 2018
You can’t miss the Dubai Frame as you drive past Zabeel Park – the two 150m towers connected by a 93m observation bridge resembles a giant, ornate picture frame. The visitor experience includes an interactive museum at the base highlighting traditional Bedouin life, ‘present Dubai’ with 360º views from the observation deck (including a section of glass floor, 48 storeys up), then augmented reality displays
on the way down representing ‘future Dubai’. Entry: AED50 (£9.75) adults, AED20 (£3.90) children.
Where: Zabeel Park
Opened: January 2018
Rosemont Hotel & Residences
Another unique Dubai property will come online this year when the twin-tower Rosemont Hotel and Residences in Barsha Heights opens its doors – this one will feature an indoor rainforest complete with stream, waterfall and an artificial rain system.
Where: Barsha Heights
Opening: 2018, date TBC
And there’s more…
Other hotels set to open in 2018 include the Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah Beach, the W Hotel on The Palm, the Gevora Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road (billed as the ‘new world’s tallest hotel’), Egyptian chain Stella Di Mare’s first international offering, in Dubai Marina, and the Grand Millennium Business Bay.
New flights from London Stansted
Emirates will begin daily flights from London Stansted in June, making it the first Middle Eastern airline to operate out of the Essex airport. The overnight flight will depart the UK at 21:10, with a morning departure from Dubai.
Where: Stansted to Dubai
When: From June
What’s new in the region
The region’s latest big-name theme park is scheduled to arrive by the end of 2018, when Warner Bros World opens on Yas Island. Also in the pipeline for 2018 is CLYMB, an adventure centre connected to Yas Mall that will feature the world’s tallest indoor climbing wall (43m), and a skydiving chamber – said to be the world’s widest. A more traditional project is near completion too: after restoration, the oldest stone building on Abu Dhabi island, Qasr Al Hosn (White Fort), will re-open this year.
This article is from the latest edition of WTM Insights, the new quarterly magazine on global travel trends, analysis and updates from TTG Media and WTM.