Here’s what everyone was talking about this year…

2019 – what a year it’s been. We’ve had highs and lows, openings and closures, royal weddings, superstar performances and a lot of rain… It’s been a year of exciting news and announcements, some that will come in 2020 or even later, either way we can’t wait to see what next year has in store.

But first, let’s take a look back at the top UAE stories of 2019.

February: Pope Francis came to visit

2019 marked the Year of Tolerance in the UAE and in celebration of that, Pope Francis paid a visit to the capital. Between February 3 and 5, 2019, Pope Francis along with HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, stayed in Abu Dhabi. While he was here, he attended a welcome ceremony at the main entrance of the Presidential Palace, visited the Grand Mosque as well as the Cathedral in Abu Dhabi followed by the Holy Mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium.

Read all about it here and here.

April: Quranic Park opened in Dubai

Quranic Park, the stunning Dubai attraction began welcoming visitors in April 2019. Located in Al Khawaneej, Quranic Park is designed to give a better cultural and educational understanding of the Islamic heritage, while still being a fun place to visit for children, families and those looking to learn more about the Holy Quran. The Glass House is home to 29 different plants and trees that are mentioned in the Quran and The Sunnah. The Cave of Miracles is a man-made cave (it even has stalactites!) which depicts miracles revolving around the Prophets that occurred in the Holy Quran..

Read all about it here.

May: Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan got married

Three sons of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and ruler of Dubai were married in a ceremony in May 2019. H.H Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai wed Sheikha Sheikha bint Saeed bin Thani Al Maktoum. Sheikh Maktoum married Sheikha Mariam bint Butti Al Maktoum, and Sheikh Ahmad married Sheikha Midya bint Dalmouj Al Maktoum.

Read all about it here.

May: Sheikh Mohammed unveiled permanent visa for residents

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai unveiled a new gold card system for permanent visa-holding residents in Dubai. The Golden Card “grants permanent residency to investors and exceptional doctors, engineers, scientists and artists”. Under the first round of applications, around 6,800 people have been granted permanent residency and gold card status.

Read all about it here.

May: It rained, even in summer

While we’re used to the odd rain shower and occasional thunder storm during the UAE winter, but this year it feels like we’ve had a lot more rain, hail and thunderstorms later into the year. In May 2019, extreme weather lashed the UAE with heavy rain, thunder and lightening, with striking snaps captured of the dramatic weather by residents across Dubai. The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science took to Twitter to explain that the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) has been active in cloud seeding operations.

Read all about it here.

September: Airbnb searched for UAE volunteers to go to Antarctica

In September 2019, Airbnb went on the hunt to find five volunteers to travel on sabbatical to Antarctica. Out of tens of thousands of applicants one was picked from the UAE and enjoyed a four week trip to earth’s most remote continent to conduct scientific research, in a bid to help us better understand humans’ environmental impact. The chosen five individuals also got to visit the South Pole, and explore the beauty of other Antarctic sites such as the Drake Icefall, Charles Peak Windscoop, and Elephant’s Head.

Read all about it here.

October: Mariah Carey performed a free concert in Dubai

Global superstar Mariah Carey performed a free concert in Dubai in October 2019 to celebrate the one year until Expo 2020 mark. The concert took place on Sunday October 20 with Carey taking to the stage at exactly 8.20pm (20.20) at Burj Park, Downtown Dubai. The pop songstress behind hits including We Belong Together, Always Be My Baby and Fantasy shared the stage with Emirati star Hussain Al Jassmi at the Expo 2020 one year to go celebratory concert.

Read all about it here.

November: Nakheel Mall opened on the Palm

Palm Jumeirah’s Nakheel Mall opened its doors on Thursday, November 28 to much excitement from many-a Dubai resident. Set over 4.5 million square feet, Nakheel Mall spans five floors and will eventually play host to over 350 retail shops, restaurants and leisure attractions (right now there’s around 130), with underground parking space to accommodate 4,000 vehicles.

Read all about it here.

December: This ‘haunted’ palace opened to the public

Since 1985, Ras Al Khaimah has been home to a mysterious palace which has remained empty for the majority of that time. Rumour has it that the family of the late Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Humaid Al Qasimi who it was built for, moved out after one night claiming the property was haunted. Inside you’ll venture around the 35 rooms, which have been designed with marble floors, glass chandeliers and a few peculiar artworks. There’s also a room with a huge pyramid structure that sits at the top of the mansion.

Read all about it here.

December: UAE leaders announced the theme of 2020

UAE leaders announced in December that 2020 will be the year of preparation for the country’s next 50 years. The year, branded “2020: Towards the next 50”, will “involve all segments of the UAE society in shaping life in the UAE for the next 50 years and preparing for the country’s Golden Jubilee celebrations of 2021” according to a statement from Dubai Media Office. In a series of Tweets, Sheikh Mohammed said that “50 years ago, the founding fathers shaped our life today, and next year, we will shape the coming five decades for the future generations.”

Read all about it here.