10 new things Dubai welcomed in 2018
From Dubai Frame to the QE2, it’s been another big year of changes in the city…
As the year draws to a close, we’re reflecting on a huge 12 months of exciting openings and new additions across the city. Need a refresh? Here are 10 things Dubai welcomed in 2018…
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After almost 10 years in the making, Dubai Frame finally opened to the public in January. The landmark, located in Zabeel Park, has not only been designed to “frame” some of the city’s most iconic buildings when you look at it from a distance, but also offers spectacular views of Dubai from the top of the 150-metre-high structure.
Dubai Frame, Zabeel Park, Dubai, daily 9am to 9pm, Dhs50 adults, Dhs20 children. dubaiframe.ae
If you spend a lot of time at JBR, over the last couple of years you will have witnessed the Bluewaters development take shape across the water. And now you can finally step foot on it, as the island destination opened to the general public in November. Connected to JBR via a direct link from Sheikh Zayed Road, as well as a 265-metre-long pedestrian bridge, the island will be home to two hotels as well as restaurants, shops and residences. There isn’t much open at the minute aside from a handful of shops, but the Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai is already welcoming guests to both stay and dine, and brings with it Cove Beach Club and the Rotunda theatre.
Bluewaters, off The Beach, JBR, Dubai Marina. bluewatersdubai.ae
It’s not exactly something we all welcomed with open arms, but 2018 was the year in which value-added tax kicked off in the UAE. The introduction of VAT saw 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 are exempt).
Bringing a slice of international history to Dubai, the QE2 finally opened as a floating hotel this year after almost a decade in Dubai. Located in Port Rashid, it’s been restored to look like it did when it was sailing the world in the 1970s. There are 224 guest rooms, an interactive museum, and there’s even been a restoration of the casino (with its original slot machines now decommissioned). You’ll also find a theatre, cinema and 13 dining and nightlife options – including some of the ship’s original restaurants. Our highlight is The Queen’s Grill, which serves up a menu that the Queen of England would enjoy when she dined onboard.
QE2, Port Rashid, Dubai. Tel: (04) 526 8888. QE2.com
A human slingshot
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While 2017 was the year of the Dubai Marina zipline, 2018 saw the grand reveal of a human slingshot on Kite Beach. The human slingshot sees solo riders propelled at a force up to 4Gs, reaching speeds of up to 100 kilometres an hour in just half a second, traveling 120 metres over sand and water.
XDubai Slingshot, Kite Beach, Dubai, Thurs to Sat from Friday October 26, Dhs280. xdubai/slingshot
Museum of Illusions
The world’s biggest Museum of Illusions opened in Dubai’s Al Seef district in September. With no less than 80 exhibits of all shapes and sizes, Museum of Illusions Dubai is filled with an impressive collection of optical illusions that museum-goers can experience and interact with.
Museum of Illusions Dubai, Al Seef, Sun to Weds 10am to 10pm, Thurs to Sat 10am to midnight, Dhs80 adults, Dhs60 children. museumofillusions.ae
A glamping retreat
Earlier this year, Hatta became home to the region’s first “trailer hotel”, where visitors can camp along the banks of Hatta Dam in luxuriously appointed trailers. There’s two types of unit – the Hatta Sedr trailers, and the slightly bigger Hatta Damani Lodges, with rates from Dhs250 per night.
Hatta Sedr Trailers by Meraas, Hatta Dam, Hatta, rates from Dhs250. visithatta.com
The reopening of Address Downtown
The Address Downtown re-opened its doors in June after it suffered substantial damage during a fire on New Year’s Eve 2015. The 63-storey property features 220 guest rooms and suites, a new spa, several brand new restaurants as well as updates to some of the best-loved brands that were previously in the hotel. We welcomed the return of 63rd floor bar Neos, while also welcoming new additions STK, The Galliard, Zeta and The Restaurant.
Address Downtown, Downtown Dubai, rates from Dhs1,399. Tel: (04) 436 8888. addresshotels.com
The Dubai Mall Fashion Avenue extension
Just when you thought world’s largest mall couldn’t get any bigger, this year it added space for more than 150 luxury shops. The long-awaited extension to Fashion Avenue opened in March, housing a number of high-end brands including Gucci, Mikimoto, Dolce & Gabbana, Hermes, Rolex and Cartier. It also brought a stack of new restaurants with it, such as an upgraded version of Katsuya By Starck, Lebanese restaurant Babel, and a 12,000 square foot, 12 kitchen Todd English Food Hall.
And one in Abu Dhabi…
Warner Bros. World
Situated on Yas Island, the region’s largest indoor theme park opened this year in the capital. Inside you’ll find six lands featuring 29 rides, plus a tonne of cartoon characters to hang out with, including DC Comics stars Batman and The Joker, Wonder Woman and Superman, plus Looney Tunes favourites Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.
Warner Bros World, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 10am to 8pm, Dhs295. wbworldabudhabi.com