From super sized attractions to mega malls and new hotels and restaurants galore…

Which famous Lebanese nightclub is opening in Dubai? What new building is shaped like a book? Why is Heston Bluementhal’s signature dish so special? Well you’re in luck Dubai, as we’re hear to answer all your burning questions and more with our guide to the best things happening across the UAE this year.

So get excited, as we round up 19 things to look forward to in the UAE in 2019.

1. Year of Tolerance

2016 was the Year of Reading, 2017 was the Year of Giving, 2018 was the Year of Zayed and 2019 will be the Year of Tolerance. Announced by the UAE President, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the leader said the year would highlight the UAE as a global capital for tolerance, instilling the values of co-existence and peace in local, regional and international communities. The Year of Tolerance will also be an extension of the Year of Zayed, upholding the same values that the late Sheikh Zayed established among the people of the UAE. You can read all about the seven pillars of the Year of Tolerance here.

New attractions

2. Mohammed Bin Rashid Library

Construction is well underway on a huge new world-class library, located in Al Jaddaf (across the Creek from Dubai Festival City). The seven-storey Mohammed bin Rashid Library has been designed to resemble an open book sitting on a rehl – a traditional lectern which holds the Quran. When complete – hopefully this year- it is expected to be the largest cultural centre in the Middle East and North Africa, housing more than 4.5 million books. We’ll let you know as soon as the project enters its next chapter.

3. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi has been a stunning addition to the capital’s cultural landscape, so could its success spur the launch of another long-awaited cultural attraction on Saadiyat Island, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi? 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 this year.

4. Dubai Arena

Dubai Arena will open this year in City Walk, and will be capable of hosting live shows 365 days a year, with a capacity of up to 17,000 people. The fully air-conditioned venue has a unique automated seating design, which means it can be adapted for events of all sizes, from gala dinner and conferences to sporting tournaments and concerts.

5. Deira Night Souq

Get ready for a new spot to haggle for spices, souvenirs and scarves. Deira Night Souq – expected to be the biggest night market in the world – is located on the Deira Islands, and will be the first major completed project on the development preivously known as Palm Deira. The souq will open after sunset and stay open past midnight.

6. Madamme Tussauds


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Madame Tussauds London (@madametussauds) on

First announced back in 2008, famed waxwork museum Madame Tussauds is tipped to open this year on Bluewaters, the island development off The Beach at JBR. While details about who might appear in the first Middle Eastern location are scant, Madam Tussauds typically features a range of famous faces including singers, actors, politicians, sports star and historical figures. The London branch also has many figures from the British royal family – so here in Dubai could we be seeing a double of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president of the UAE and ruler of Dubai? Fingers crossed…

7. Cityland Mall

Yes, another mall for Dubai – but at least at Cityland 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 – is described as the world’s first ‘nature-inspired’ shopping mall, packed with botanical touches. It’s expected to be in full bloom this year.

Events and shows

8. Phantom of the Opera

Phantom of the Opera is coming to Dubai Opera this Autumn. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom Of The Opera is largely regarded as one of the most popular musicals in the world. it’s won more than 70 major theatrical awards, including seven Tony Awards on Broadway. It’s also the longest running show in Broadway history. Tickets go on sale this month, so get them while you can.

9. Cirque Du Soleil

Entertainment giant Cirque du Soleil brings its motley crew of acrobats, fire-breathers, stilt walkers, contortionists, trapeze artists, dancers and musicians to Abu Dhabi in March. The new show, entitled Bazzar, takes place in a purpose-built big top, which stands at an impressive 19 metres high, with seating for up to 1,500 spectators. Tickets cost Dhs195.

10. Party In The Park

We have it on full authority that this year’s What’s On Party In The Park will be the best yet. We’ve already handed in our wish list, but keep an eye on for the first announcement coming soon.

11. DIFF

The red carpet is rolling out for the Dubai International Film Festival in December this year. Organisers have decided to hold the star-studded event every two years as part of a new strategy to support the growth and evolution of the film and content industries in the region.

New hotels, restaurants and clubs


Dubai’s relatively quiet neighbourhood is about to get a big dose of party vibes when FIVE Jumeirah Village Dubai opens this year. The original hotel, located on the Palm, is famous for raucous ladies’ days and house nights at The Penthouse, so we cant’ wait to see what will take shape. So far, we know the hotel will have 247 rooms and suites.

13. Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai

Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai will open in the first quarter of 2019. Located on Jumeirah’s beachfront, the resort has 178 rooms with 78 suites and six restaurants.

14. O Beach

It’s one of the biggest party spots on the island, famed for its huge pool bashes and legendary champagne spray shows, and now Ocean Beach Ibiza has announced it’s opening in Dubai this Autumn under a newly rebranded name – O Beach Ibiza.

15. SKY2.0

SKY2.0 is the first overseas extension of the iconic club Skybar, and it will open its doors in the hip Dubai Design District this year. And the music? Well, Skybar Beirut has welcomed everyone from Nicole Scherzinger to Tinie Tempah, so we imagine SKY2.0 becoming one of the city’s top haunts for celeb-spotting too.

16. Dinner by Heston Bluementhal

Meat Fruit is a real dish, and it’s one you’ll be able to try in Dubai this year in Dubai. It’s one of celebrity chef Heston Bluementhal’s most iconic dishes and looks like a mandarin but is actually made from chicken liver parfait. You’ll be able to try it for yourself when his restaurant opens at the Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences on the Palm Jumeirah before the year is out. Dinner by Heston Bluemental will be the third outpost of the culinary concept, which already has locations in London and Melbourne.

17. The Irish Village Studio City

It’s original Garhoud location is a stalwart watering hole in Dubai, and it’s second location in Riverland has also proved popular. So it was no surprise to hear that The Irish Village is opening a third branch, this time in soon-to-open Studio One hotel in Dubai Studio City.

18. The Arts Club

Known as one of the most prestigious private members’ clubs in the world, The Arts Club is set to open its second location in Dubai’s DIFC later this year. It comprises of a rooftop garden, three restaurants, cigar lounge and art exhibition spaces. Celebrities who have frequented the British hotspot include Rihanna, Cameron Diaz and Lady Gaga.

…and one big birthday

19. What’s On 40th anniversary

We’re a big fan of celebrating birthdays, and even more so when it’s our own milestone. That’s right, What’s On is 40 this year, and boy, do we have an exciting calendar of events and activities planned. Stay tuned for more…

— For the best of Dubai straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter.