23 incredible things coming to the UAE in the second half of 2023

Hot hotels, fabulous restaurants, incredible megaprojects, festivals, shows and so much more…

We’re half way through the year, and while the emirates have already welcomed some major new openings, there’s still so much more to come across the UAE in the second half of 2023. Whether it’s a stunning new hotel, hotly anticipated restaurant, new culinary destination or a festival or show you’ve been waiting for, here you’ll find all the best bits we already know about happening in the coming months.

Here’s 23 things to look forward to in the UAE in the second half of 2023.

La Mer will get a stunning new destination

La Mer South is set to be redeveloped into a dazzling new beach resort called J1 Beach, complete with some incredible new restaurants and beach clubs. The first-of-its-kind day to night destination in the region will be home to three beach clubs and ten restaurants, all set to open at the end of the year. The three stars of the show will be a trio of beach clubs, all with regional and international acclaim behind them. From award-winning homegrown restaurant Gaia comes Sirene Beach by Gaia, described as a ‘coastal evolution of Dubai’s home-grown, Greek-Mediterranean concept, Gaia. From the ultra chic shores of Cannes comes Bâoli, renowned for its haute modern Japanese cuisine and A-list guest. Merex will team up with Paris Society International for the third beach club at J1 Beach, bringing the legendary Gigi Rigolatto to the region for the first time.


A beloved family musical graces the Dubai Opera stage

Matilda The Musical

In the past few years, Dubai Opera has thrilled us with a number of phenomenal musicals from Mamma Mia! to Chicago, the Musical; Footloose and so much more. This year, the performing arts centre has announced that yet another highly popular musical will be gracing its stage – Matilda the Musical. The multi-award-winning performance by The Royal Shakespeare Company will be heading to Dubai Opera for ten days from Tuesday, October 3 to 12. Tickets are now on sale on dubaiopera.com and start from Dhs325. Read more here.


The oceanic trilogy at Jumeirah will be completed

A third oceanic-themed hotel will open up alongside Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach Hotel, completing Jumeirah’s nautical hotel trilogy, in late 2023. The five star hotel will boast 386 rooms and suites, four penthouses, and 83 luxury hotel apartment suites, alongside state of the art amenities. Jumeirah Marsa Al Arab will be the perfect place to unwind and find your inner zen with their special wellness and leisure facilities set across a sprawling 3,500 square metre, three-storey spa. There will also be a collection of gorgeous pools that guests can take a dip in, including a large circular pool, a family infinity pool and a private VIP adult pool. The new resort will be every foodies dream with an impressive collection of 10 restaurants and bars, all of which have been designed by globally renowned restaurant designers.


We’ll be riding the waves in Abu Dhabi

Set to open at the end of 2023, Surf Abu Dhabi will be the most advanced artificial wave facility in the world, and it’s just the first crest of an expansive Modon masterplan for Hudayriyat Island. The island masterplan will also see Hudayriat become home to a regional first velodrome, and the biggest urban park in Abu Dhabi. Surf Abu Dhabi has been designed in partnership with an organisation fronted by pro surfing royalty (and World Surf League champion a record 11 times) – the Kelly Slater Wave Co. With the potential to host big tour competitions and offering up the artificial surfing world’s longest ride, biggest barrel, as well as the largest man-made wave pool, this truly is radical class water sporting. But it’s not just for seasoned surf bros, the facility will also offer thrills for newbies and aspiring Point Breakers with literally zero chance of you getting mangled on a sand bar. All of which will undoubtedly make this one of the best places for surfing in the UAE.


Wellness gets a new home in Dubai

Welcome to Sanskara, a wellness space, day retreat and chic eatery, opening its doors in Jumeirah this autumn. Transforming a multi-storey villa in Al Safa 2, Sanskara promises a ‘simple, clean, conscious and mindful approach’ through an accessible, diverse and inclusive wellness offering. Inviting guests to come for breakfast, lunch or dinner will be Sanskara’s conscious eatery, offering a menu packed with clean, locally-sourced dining options. Whether guests are coming for a power hour of self-reflection in the lounge, or wish to curl up with a book in the open-air library, Sanskara promises spaces for all occasions. More serious wellness aficionados can look forward to ice baths, infrared saunas and even a bio-hacking room, with cutting-edge wellness experiences taking centre stage.


A new shopping and leisure destination will open on Saadiyat Island

We now know that Saadiyat Grove will play a large part in the look and layout of Saadiyat Island island, a blended leisure, commercial and residential project that looks to be linking (or close enough) the individual culture mega projects and the beachfront entertainment district of Mamsha Al Saadiyat. The important numbers we have so far are that the launch date is set for some time in 2023. There’ll be a ‘Town Square’, more than 70 retail stores, a gym, cinema, offices, and 50,000 sqm of dining space. Aldar’s website describes some of the aesthetic experiences you can expect, saying “interactive artworks and digital murals surround you”.


The most beautiful restaurant in the world will open on The Palm

Top Andalusian chef Dani García is set to open his first restaurant in Dubai. The man behind some of Spain’s top restaurants, including BiBo, Lobito de Mar and Dani Brasserie, will bring his sleek steakhouse Leña to The Palm in 2023. If you’re not familiar with the brand, let us introduce you. Leña was born in Marbella in the summer of 2020, replacing chef Dani García’s eponymous fine dining restaurant, which the chef announced would close just 21 days after it was awarded its third Michelin star. A year after opening Leña Marbella, an opening in Madrid followed, the same year that the Marbella restaurant was recognised with the highest accolade of the restaurant category at the 2021 Restaurant & Bar Design Awards. So, we can expect some pretty wow-worthy interiors when the brand opens in Dubai.


Sole DXB brings the soul to D3

sole dxb

Dubai’s top festival, Sole DXB, will return to Dubai Design District this December. The three-day festival will take place from Friday, December 8 to Sunday, December 10, 2023. For Dubai’s urban crowd, Sole DXB is one of the hottest and most-anticipated events on the Dubai calendar known for street footwear, music, art, and lifestyle.


Dorchester will mark 10 hotels worldwide with the opening of The Lana

Those who live or work around the Business Bay area will probably recognise the unique shape of The Lana (previously called Dorchester Dubai), perched on the waterfront of the Dubai Canal. The striking 30-storey tower will house 225 ultra-luxury guest rooms – 69 of them suites – which will ooze contemporary-chic with triple height ceilings, plush furnishings in gold, beige and olive and deep-soaking bathtubs. The ultra-luxury property is expected to open in November 2023, bringing with it a collection of signature restaurants and a stunning rooftop pool.


Flamingo Room will have foodies flocking to Abu Dhabi’s Al Maryah island

A second UAE branch of Flamingo Room by Tashas will open on Al Maryah island in summer 2023. The original Flamingo Room by Tashas opened its doors back in 2017 at the appropriately stunning Jumeirah Al Naseem hotel in Dubai. The striking interiors there, give sophisticated finishes to inspiration drawn directly from Africa’s enchanting wildernesses. Playful features such as meerkats and monkeys cast in bronze blend effortlessly with flamingo-pink and gold art-deco styling, and the elegance of the food and drinks menu. It’s peak safari chic.


A new skyscraper will rise in Dubai

Located on the edge of DIFC, One Za’abeel is an innovative new skyscraper that comprises of two towers connected by the world’s largest cantilever. Across the two towers, there will be sleek residences, chic stores and a duo hotels from Kerzner International: Dubai’s third One&Only Hotel; and the world’s first Siro hotel, which focuses on fitness and recovery. Connecting the two is the world’s largest cantilever, The Link, comprising of a total of 11 restaurants. Many of the names you’ve probably heard of. Anne-Sophie Pic, whose restaurants make her the most Michelin-lauded female chef in the world, makes her Dubai debut at The Link; as does Paco Morales, who is known for his innovative take on Andalusian cuisine. Then there’s a trio of One&Only homegrown concepts, which includes Tapasake, a sleek poolside restaurant adjacent to the UAE’s longest infinity pool, which also exists at One&Only resorts in the Maldives and Montenegro. See the full list here.


Abu Dhabi’s leafy green Jubail Island gets a new Marina

Nestled between Yas and Saadiyat, Jubail Island is already one of Abu Dhabi’s most idyllic islands, thanks to its lush, stretching mangroves. But the development of Jubail Island is set to see it become one of the capital’s most desirable residential destinations, with the stunning Jubail Marina to become the beating heart for the new local community. On track for completion by the end of 2023, Jubail Marina will form part of the Marina District, and will feature 66 berths for visitors and residents to set sail for Jubail as and when they please. This stunning seafront community project will also feature a luxury yacht club, scenic boardwalk and a collection of restaurants and cafes that will make the most of the gorgeous alfresco setting. That sounds like a true haven for boating enthusiasts.


We’ll be able to glam up for breakfast at Tiffany’s

Blue Box Cafe

Renowned all over the world, the Tiffany and Co. Blue Box Café is landing in Dubai and we’re convinced the food is going to have at least a tiny bit of diamond dust on it. The famed spot is opening its doors at The Dubai Mall at the Grand Atrium entrance next to the Tiffany and Co. store. Although we don’t have a confirmed opening date, it’s set to open sometime in 2023. Like its blingy sisters from around the world (this will be the fourth branch worldwide), we can expect it to be decked out from head to toe in the iconic baby ‘Tiffany’ blue hue, complete with diamond displays and befitting tributes to Breakfast at Tiffany’s – the legendary movie that took it to the stars – starring America’s sweetheart, Audrey Hepburn.


Ras Al Khaimah gets a slice of Maldivian luxury

We’ve been writing about the opening of Anantara Mina Al Arab for years, and finally it’s happening. This stunning Anantara eco-resort will be located in the new Mina Al Arab district along the coast of Ras Al Khaimah. When it’s completed in late 2023, it will boast 306 guest rooms, suites and overwater villas (Maldivian style). There will also be an overwater restaurant serving Thai cuisine, as well as a seafood grill, and a beach and pool bar. There’s an outdoor swimming pool, as well as mini pools in many of the rooms. Guests will be welcome to relax in their sanctuary or keep active at the health club, which includes a gym, aerobics and yoga studios, squash and tennis courts.


Trade Center will get a new foodie destination

East Park is the name of an exciting new foodie destination that’s set to open in Trade Center, just down the road from 25Hours. In total, there will be roughly 20 restaurants and bars to check out all in one area, with many of the names well known around the world. These include La Mome, a trendy restaurant and cocktail bar that’s well known as a celeb hangout in Cannes; Shoku, a Japanese restaurant from the former co-founder of Roka, Nic Watt; and Ibiza-born IT, now found in party hotspots around the world including London, Mykonos and Porto Cervo.

Liwa Festival offers the perfect excuse to head out to the Abu Dhabi desert

Tucked away in a corner of Abu Dhabi’s desert, LIWA Village has emerged from shifting sands to stage a festival showcasing an alluring range of unique entertainment experiences and cleverly curated attractions. In 2023, the festival’s two-week run will take place from December 16 to December 31 run, and we’re expecting huge things. The 2022 session was a wild success with visitors enjoying access to concerts, family activities, shows, rides, arcade gaming, spectacular immersive dining opportunities, engaging demonstrations of Emirati heritage and crafts, eGaming tournaments, souk shopping from top-tier local fashion brands and more. One of the highlights was Fuel Fest Arabia (will it return) where attendees were able to meet the stars of the Hollywood blockbusting franchise, Fast and Furious (including some on four wheels) — Ludacris, Cody Walker, and Tyrese Gibson with a closing concert from Ludacris himself.


Crucial conversations will happen in Dubai around climate change

This year, Dubai will host COP28, described by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai as the most important event in the city in 2023. The 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place at Expo City from November 30 to December 12 and will see some 140 heads of state and government leaders, over 80,000 delegates and more than 5,000 media professionals descend on the city.

One of house music’s biggest names lands in Dubai for a three-day festival

Defected Dubai October

A British independent label group that has been responsible for some of the biggest parties across the UK, Ibiza, and Miami is finally returning to Dubai. The record label was last in the city for a 12-hour rave in 2018 at Soho Beach, and this year they are promising three days of non-stop house beats. The event will be taking place from Friday, October 13 until Sunday, October 15. The three days will be spread across various locations in Dubai: with a warehouse rave on Friday, a beach festival on Saturday and a pool party on Sunday. The latter two events will both take place at Soul Beach.


Rev your engines for the final F1 race of the year

One of the biggest sporting events of the year, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, marks the final race in the F1 Calendar. Set to be 23 races long in 2023, all the on track action will cumulate with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from Thursday November 23 to Sunday November 26. As always, it will all take place across 50-something laps around Yas Marina Circuit, although off-track you can expect pop-up restaurants, epic concerts and plenty of parties. So far, two after-race concerts have been confirmed: US popstar Ava Max and Dutch DJ Tiesto will open proceedings on Thursday and Foo Fighters will close the show with an electric rock set on Sunday.


FIVE Hotels will open a third Dubai property

Five LUXE will take prime position in JBR’s famous beach strip when it opens in 2023, taking over the spot where Corinthia Meydan was due to open. As well as all the best bits of the Palm Jumeirah property – the iconic social pool, a firm focus on culinary excellence and a sparkling beach club – there will be some exclusive additions specifically for the new luxury address. FIVE LUXE will boast 222 luxury rooms and suites and 275 opulent residences, with some seriously plush suites for guests to splash out on including the Writer Suite, Musician Suite and regal Royal Suite. In true FIVE style, you can expect a best-in-class culinary offering, with an array of restaurants and nightlife venues all designed to wow guests. This will include Ibiza-born Lio.

FIVE LUXE, JBR, Dubai Marina, opening late 2023. fiveluxe.fivehotelsandresorts.com

The world’s first Real Madrid theme park will open in Dubai

Football club Real Madrid C.F have signed an exclusive multi-year partnership with Dubai Parks and Resorts that will see the two entities open the world’s first Real Madrid destination theme park in Dubai at the end of 2023. Visitors will be able to enjoy audio-visual displays, interactive experiences, playable gaming interactions as well as unique attractions that are inspired by the spirit, passion and success that make Real Madrid the team that it is.

Robbie Williams will Entertain You at Etihad Arena

Popular British popstar Robbie Williams is making a welcome return to Abu Dhabi later this year. On Wednesday October 18, the Let Me Entertain You hitmaker will headline at Yas Island’s Etihad Arena as part of his 25 Years of Hits world tour. Known as one of the best live acts of his generation, Robbie Williams has been captivating audiences for the last two and a half decades. A born entertainer, we can’t wait to see this pop icon bring his energetic showmanship and songbook of countless sing-along hits to the capital this October.


We’ll be zipping around in driverless taxis

driverless taxi dubai

Self-driving taxis will be on the roads by the end of 2023. While initially it might only be a small fleet, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) reitterated in March 2022 that the aim is to reach 4,000 driverless taxis by 2030. To put your mind at ease, the vehicles will be equipped with 80 sensors, cameras and LiDAR systems – light detection and ranging (laser scanning technology) to monitor road conditions, and controls to avoid collision with any objects – even those the human eye cannot see.