24 incredible things to get excited for in the UAE in 2024
Maldivian-inspired hotels, super-sized music festivals, jaw-dropping attractions, and so much more…
The new year is fast approaching, and as we say goodbye to 2023, we usher in a new era of fabulous fun across the emirates for 2024. From hotly anticipated hotels to new restaurants, mega festivals and cool cultural attractions, there’s plenty here to ensure 2024 is anything but a bore.
Here are 24 things to look forward to in 2024.
What’s On celebrates its 45th birthday
We know, we look good for our age, but June 2024 will mark 45 years since the debut issue of What’s On came out. While the city might have changed somewhat since our launch in 1979, our passion to bring you the latest news, reviews, and insider info from across the emirates has always remained. So as we continue to do that in our 45th year, we’ll also be making sure to celebrate with you – our loyal readers – in style. Birthday events, mega giveaways, and some special surprises are all heading your way. So stay tuned…
La Mer will get a stunning new destination
It’s goodbye La Mer South and hello J1 Beach, a chic new day to night beachfront destination, which will be home to three beach clubs and nine restaurants. 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 Greek 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. Then there’s St Tropez hotspot Gigi Rigolatto, a 5,000 square metre destination featuring a private pool and beach, Mediterranean garden, Bellini bar, pétanque court and a charming concept store. On the restaurant front, expect openings like African Queen, from the team that brought us Beefbar; Tulum-born Gitano; and Sakhalin, a Michelin Star awarded restaurant from Moscow.
A hedonistic party hotel will up the luxe in JBR
Welcoming guests from the first quarter of 2024, FIVE LUXE is the property for Dubai-born FIVE Hotels & Resorts in the city. 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 277 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. So far, we know this will include sizzling Ibiza cabaret, Lio.
We’ll be riding the waves in Abu Dhabi
Set to open in early 2024, 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. 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. 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.
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. Accepting reservations from January, it will boast 174 guest rooms, suites and overwater villas (Maldivian style). A duo of signature restaurants, Mekong and Beach House, will both open within the property. Completing the culinary line-up will be an all-day dining restaurant, pool bar and an elegant lobby lounge. If relaxing is at the top of your agenda, you’ll be able to unwind in the stunning luxury Anantara Spa. There’s also an outdoor swimming pool with sunken bar, watersports and padel tennis courts, perfect for an active stay.
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 in 2024. Called Real Madrid World, here 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.
Festival fans will get loud as Untold becomes Dubai’s first mega festival
Untold music festival, a stalwart on the hedonistic European festival scene, is headed to Dubai for the first time in February 2024, bringing four-day of epic music madness to Expo City. On the bill at Dubai’s first mega music festival from February 15 to 18, incredible headliners include Ellie Goulding, G-Eazy, Major Lazer, Armin Van Buuren, Bebe Rexha, Don Diablo, Paul Kalkbrenner, Timmy Trumpet and Hardwell. This is just the first phase of artists, with the full bill set to feature some 100 artists across music genres from top DJs to hip-hop stars, alternative rockers and pop royalty. Four-day, general admission tickets start from Dhs700.
An icon hotel brand will make its Dubai debut
First announced in 2018, for its 10th property worldwide, Dorchester Collection will open The Lana in Dubai’s Business Bay in February 2024. The striking 30-storey tower will house 225 ultra-luxury guest rooms – of which 126 will be suites – which will ooze contemporary-chic with triple height ceilings, plush furnishings in gold, beige and olive and deep-soaking bathtubs. The hotel’s facilities include a wellness centre with a gym and spa, and a collection of no less than 8 restaurants and bars, several of which come with global acclaim. Among them, guests can enjoy the finest Basque flavours at Jara, an 18th floor restaurant from Michelin-lauded Spanish chef Martín Berasategui; and Riviera by Jean Imbert, a fourth floor restaurant that promises a taste of the Mediterranean. Room rates starting from Dhs3,900 per night.
A London-loved crazy golf club lands on Bluewaters
Dubai, get ready to par-tee: London’s popular crazy golf venue Swingers is opening on Bluewaters Island in 2024. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, Swingers is an adults-only venue with four nine-hole crazy golf courses, street food from renowned vendors, an extensive drinks menu for post-putt cocktails, and live DJs creating a party atmosphere. At its London locations, Swingers offers a variety of including bottomless brunch, unlimited drinks packages, and party packages for large groups, so we can expect the same will be found in the Dubai location next year.
We’ll be Thinking Out Loud how great Ed Sheeran is live
He’s one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, and you’ll be able to sing along to all of Ed Sheeran’s biggest tunes when he performs two nights at The Sevens Stadium on January 19 and 20. The British musician will take the stage with tour guest Calum Scott to deliver some of his biggest, record-breaking hits, as well as tracks from his new albums, Autumn Variations and ‘-‘ (Deluxe), released in 2023. He will perform in ‘the round’, his signature format featuring a 360-degree central stage, giving the fans a chance to surround the musician and witness his set in an immersive, close-up experience. Tickets start from Dhs495.
A beautiful place of worship will be built on the Dubai Canal
A first-of-its-kind floating mosque will open at Dubai Canal in 2024. The mosque will feature three floors and a submerged prayer hall, able to accommodate 50 to 75 worshippers. With the third floor being underwater, the other two floors above water will have a hall for Islamic lectures and workshops. The design of the mosque shows an indoor male seating area and a coffee shop with outdoor seating on the bottom level. The top level has indoor and outdoor seating areas for ladies.The mosque will welcome people of all faiths to visit and explore.
Foodies will be spoiled for choice at Timbuktu Market
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Inspired by London’s Borough Market and New York’s Chelsea Market, Timbuktu Market will bring an exciting new energy to the city’s culinary scene when it opens in Two Towers, Barsha Heights. The market will be home to several different eateries under one roof, all of which will be brand-new concepts that don’t already have a physical presence in Dubai, including home chefs, bakers, pop-ups, supper clubs, and some international concepts. As well as the myriad of restaurants, there will be space to shop for local products and burn off some calories with homegrown cycling studio, Motion Cycling. While we don’t know much more than that yet, we do know that Timbuktu Market is in great hands with Dubai-based food blogger Hani AlMalki (@bedouinfoodie) leading the curation team.
Abu Dhabi will welcome an iconic musical
Even if you’re not ‘a musical type of person’, you’ve probably heard of Hamilton. It’s a grand, board-treading spectacular that’s cut from a very different sort of theatrical cloth. Using a song sheet that builds narratives through the musical genres of hip-hop, pop, jazz, R&B, soul and *jazz hands* Broadway — Hamilton is a Lin-Manuel Miranda-conceived extravaganza, based on a Ron Chernow biography and in Miranda’s own words tells, “the story of America then told by America now.” Hamilton is headed for Yas Island’s Etihad Arena for a tenure of office that will stretch from January 17 to February 11, 2024. Tickets start from Dhs180.
DIFC will see the debut of a sleek new Asian restaurant
The world-famous Chinese hotspot, Mr Chow is set to replace Indochine, which closed its doors after a four-year stint in DIFC’s Gate District, in DIFC. The Dubai outpost will be Mr Chow’s eighth restaurant worldwide and second outpost in the Middle East after opening its doors in Riyadh last month, in the buzzing King Abdullah Financial District. Mr Chow is famed for its unforgettable dining experience including a daily handmade noodle show, Champagne trolley, and one of the best-prepared Beijing ducks in the world.
We’ll be able to take a walk on the wild side with a Sharjah staycation
If a staycation with a side of animal-tastic adventure is on your 2024 travel bucket list, then pack your bags for LUX* Al Bridi Resort, an invitation to immerse yourself in nature. A five-star eco-resort set within the expansive Sharjah Safari, it will feature one, two and three-bedroom glamping tents with a five-star feel, designed to blend seamlessly into the surroundings. Further upscale facilities will include a gym, spa, pool, restaurant and a kids club, although much of the experience will lie within the surrounding nature reserve. Here, up close encounters with the Big Five are all part of the package.
Get ready for belly laughs as Michael McIntyre performs
British funnyman Michael McIntyre brings his stand-up world tour, Macnificent, to Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena for one night only on January 13. McIntyre, now one of the biggest names in comedy, first rose to fame as a TV panel show star on Mock The Week before going on to get his own show on the BBC. No stranger to performing in the UAE, McIntyre last performed in the capital back in 2021, and before that performed a two-date show Dubai in 2019. Tickets start from Dhs250.
A new Hindu temple will welcome worshippers in the capital
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Abu Dhabi’s BAPS Hindu temple will have its grand inauguration in February 2024. The sprawling piece of architecture, which will be the Middle East’s first traditional Hindu stone temple, is being built out of pink sandstone and stunning white marble, atop 27 acres of land. First announced in 2019, four years of meticulous work by artisans in India and the UAE will soon come to fruition in Abu Dhabi’s Abu Mureikha area. People of all faiths will be welcome to visit the temple, which has been intricately carved out of 5,500 tonnes of white marble and 14,500 tonnes of pink sandstone. The finished 32-metre-high structure will be decorated with more than 200 ornate pillars.
Be immersed in the world of digital art at a new attraction
Arte Museum is a new immersive art space opening soon at Dubai Mall. It is created by a world-class digital media design company – d’strict, the creative masterminds behind the mesmerising public media art ‘Wave’ at Coex in Seoul. Although we don’t know much right now, the artworks we will see will be brought to life using the latest media technologies paired with stunning visual creativity. The immersive display will allow visitors to ‘experience nature unconstrained by time and space.’
Ride around like real life Mario Kart at Chaos Karts
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The city’s first-ever live-action part-gaming part-karting experience is officially making its way to Dubai’s Al Quoz in January. The go-kart experience (which looks very much like Mario Kart IRL) combines real-life racing with augmented reality. Chaos Karts throws players into a virtual world, with real-life video game racing battles. Using state-of-the-art technology that produces real-life sensations and reactions, putting you in the driver’s seat for a ‘next level’ immersive kart gaming experience. Racers will be able to battle it out while their vehicle interacts with the virtual track, and challenging rivals may launch their way ahead.
Dine at the hands of the world’s best chef
New restaurants in Dubai might not be anything special, but among the slew of new openings to expect in 2024, one particularly stands out to us. Chef Dabiz Muñoz, known for his avant-garde and experimental approach to cuisine, is set to open his debut Dubai restaurant in February. The recipient of the Best Chef in the World award from Best Chef Awards three years in a row, will open Street XO in One&Only Za’abeel in February 2024. In an informal and relaxed setting, expect haute cuisines with a dynamic edge, inspired by street food from all over the world. “The experience is going to be unique and amazing,” the chef told What’s On. “But for us, what happens on your plate is the most important thing. We’re crazy about achieving unique flavours,”
See horse racing’s elite descend on the city for Dubai World Cup
The exceptional Meydan racing calendar accumulates with the famed Dubai World Cup on March 30. The 28th edition of the incredible sporting event comes with an impressive prize pot of $30.5 million. While the star of the show may be the racing action, the day comes with a heavy focus on the fashion, and there’s plenty of off-track entertainment too.
An Andrew Lloyd Webber classic brings the drama to Dubai Opera
The sensational and spellbinding musical, The Phantom of the Opera returns to Dubai Opera from February 22 to March 10. Based on the novel by French journalist and mystery writer Gaston Leroux, the show tells the tale of a disfigured musical genius who haunts the depths of the Paris Opera House, before becoming enraptured by the talents of a young soprano, Christine. Having lured her in as his protégé, the phantom falls madly in love, then descends into jealous madness upon learning of Christine’s love affair with the opera’s patron, Raoul. What follows is certainly not an exercise in understatement – with huge operatic numbers, a full corps de ballet, a dramatic unmasking of the disfigured ghost of the opera house and even a famous crashing chandelier, Phantom is as overblown and dramatic as its name might suggest. Tickets start from Dhs275.
We’ll be working up a sweat at a second serving of the ‘King of Gyms’
After bursting onto the DIFC fitness scene at the end of 2022, 1Rebel will bring its calorie-busting super workouts to a new crowd when it opens in Dubai Marina in 2024. The next piece in the puzzle at W Dubai – Mina Seyahi, this ultimate sports-luxe fitness experience will be set out over a 2,500 square metre, dual-storey studio, and will invite fitness fans to be put through their paces with an array of sweat-inducing classes. Some will be familiar to those that work out in DIFC, others will be brand new for the Dubai market. We’ve got our fingers crossed for Rebel’s London-loved Reformer classes.