All the things you need to keep an eye out for…
2017 has been a huge year for the UAE, with exciting new projects and openings announced almost every week – so many, in fact, that it’s hard to keep up.
But don’t worry, that’s why we’re here – and we can’t wait to see what the future holds. From brand new attractions to flying taxis, here are 18 things we can look forward to in 2018…
1. The Year of Zayed
2018 will mark 100 years since the birth of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nayhan, so it makes sense that the year will be dedicated to the UAE’s founding father. The year will not only be about remembering all that Sheikh Zayed did to form the UAE of today, but will also be about instilling his values across the community.
That’s right, 2018 is the year in which value-added tax will kick off in the UAE. This will see a small rise in the cost of living, with a 5 per cent tax on good and services including food, water and electricity (though public transport, international air travel, education and healthcare will be exempt). You can read more about how it will affect you here.
3. Dubai Frame
It’s been proudly framing the city from its spot in Zabeel Park for quite some time now, and next year we’ll finally be able to step inside the picture-perfect attraction. When complete, a panoramic elevator will take visitors up to the 150-metre-high glass bridge, where they can admire the views over both old and new Dubai.
4. The world’s longest zipline
Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah will soon be home to the world’s longest zipline, set to open to the public in January. While its exact length will remain a secret until the opening, it is expected to break the current world record held by ‘The Monster’ in Puerto Rico, which is 2,200 metres long.
5. Mohammed bin Rashid Library
Ok, we are so excited about this one. Construction is underway on a huge new world-class library, located in Al Jaddaf (across the Creek from Dubai Festival City). The seven-storey building has been designed to resemble an open book sitting on a rehl – a traditional lectern which holds the Quran. All going well, it should be finished by mid-2018.
6. Cityland Mall
Yes, another mall for Dubai – but with this one, at least we’ll have the excuse that we’re spending time in nature. Cityland Mall – which is being developed by the same people behind Dubai Miracle Garden and Dubai Butterfly Garden – is described as the world’s first “nature-inspired” shopping mall, packed with botanical wonders. It’s expected to be in full bloom next year.
7. Bluewaters Island
If you’ve been hanging out at JBR this year, you’ll have noticed things starting to take serious shape across the water at Bluewaters Island. Its enormous centrepiece, Ain Dubai, is expected to become the world’s largest observation wheel when it opens in 2018.
8. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi
The Louvre Abu Dhabi finally opened its impressive doors in November – so could this spur the launch of another long-awaited cultural attraction on Saadiyat Island, The Guggenheim? While no official completion date has been given for the Abu Dhabi outpost of the New York art museum, we’re hoping we’ll see at least some progress next year.
9. Deira Night Souq
By the end of 2018 there should be a brand new spot where you can haggle for all your spices, souvenirs and scarves. The Deira Night Souq will be located on the Deira Islands, and will be the first major completed project on the development (which was previously known as the Palm Deira). The souq will only open after sunset, and will stay open past midnight.
10. Aladdin City
It’s been a while since we’ve heard word of this magical new development at Dubai Creek, but Aladdin City is slated for completion in the fourth quarter of 2018. The development, inspired by the ancient legends of fictional heroes Aladdin and Sinbad, is made up of three golden structures designed to look like glimmering genie lamps.
11. Warner Bros World
Abu Dhabi’s newest theme park is on track for a 2018 opening, with 29 rides inspired by classic Warner Bros characters such as Scooby Doo and Bugs Bunny, as well as heroes and villains from the DC Universe like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. You’ll find it just down the road from Ferrari World on Yas Island.
12. Self-flying taxis
Dubai’s much-hyped Autonomous Air Taxi took to the skies this year for its first test flight. Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority has teamed up with German drone firm Volocopter to develop the two-seater vehicle, and while no firm date has been given for when we can start hailing the futuristic cabs, we’ll definitely be hearing more about them in 2018.
13. The world’s tallest indoor climbing wall
Extreme sports are about to get even more extreme in the capital. CLYMB, a Dhs367 million indoor attraction on Yas Island, will break two world records when it opens in 2018 – not only will it feature the world’s tallest climbing wall, but the world’s largest flight chamber as well. The climbing section will offer spaces for beginner, intermediate and expert climbers.
14. A swag of new hotels
If there’s one thing you can count on in the UAE, it’s that five-star hotels will always be popping up faster than you can say ‘room service’. December saw the opening of the ritzy Renaissance hotel in Downtown Dubai, as well as the Bulgari Resort on Jumeira Bay. 2018 will see the arrival of the likes of the W Hotel on The Palm, the two-tower Rosemont Hotel and Residences in Barsha Heights, and the Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah Beach.
15. Reem Central Park
Reem Island off Abu Dhabi is getting its own park – and it’s a biggie. The outdoor space, which is scheduled to open to the public in 2018, will cover an area of 1,000,000 square feet and feature a mosque for 2,000 worshippers, restaurants, shops, a skate park and play area for kids and ‘interactive water features’.
16. Azizi Riviera
Dubai is getting another waterfront suburb, and this one is going to be inspired by the French Riviera. Located within the Meydan One development, Azizi Riviera will feature 69 residential buildings, two luxury hotels and a new retail district. The first phases of the project are expected to be complete by December 2018.
17. Al Qana
Described as a new tourist and entertainment destination for Abu Dhabi, Al Qana will be home to a 5,000 square-metre aquarium and Abu Dhabi’s first standalone cinema. It will also have a family entertainment area, a marina, picnic areas, restaurants and shops. It’s expected to be finished in the second quarter of 2018.
18. New restaurants galore
New attractions and developments are nice and all, but if we’re being really honest, we’re most excited about the new restaurants we’ll be able to dine at in 2018. Our mouths are already watering for Beefbar in DIFC, the first PizzaExpress Live restaurant outside of the UK in Business Bay, and we’re very interested to see Dolce Sky in the Address Boulevard Hotel (pictured), where wait staff are set to double as aerial performers…