Dating back to 1973…

As we celebrate 45 years of What’s On magazine here’s a look at some legacy venues that have stood the test of time alongside our wonderful magazine. From heritage hotels to retro beachside cabins, these iconic UAE establishments continue to leave an indelible mark on the country

Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort, Abu Dhabi Corniche (Formerly Hilton Abu Dhabi)

Opened in: 1973

Opened in 1973 by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, this hotel represented a new era as the first international chain in Abu Dhabi. According to The National, the hotel “introduced foods that had not appeared in the emirate before such as iceberg lettuce, smoked salmon and avocado. French food dominated the menus and everything had to be flown in from London. The hotel also played a role in the internationalism of the city, hosting discos, DJs and stars such as Tina Turner from the late 1970s on.”


Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Creek (Formerly InterContinental Hotel Dubai)

Opened in: 1975

Dubai’s first five-star property, this landmark hotel opened its doors in 1975, offering unparalleled views of Dubai Creek and setting the standard for luxury hospitality in the emirate. While the name has changed, its timeless design and iconic restaurants like The Fish Market continue to make it a cherished hotel.


Carlton Tower Hotel Dubai

Opened in: 1977

Since its inauguration in 1977 by Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the first Prime Minister of Dubai and the first Vice President of the UAE, the Carlton Tower has had a legacy of 40 years of sophisticated hospitality by the Dubai Creek. Like the Creek, which has been the lifeblood of Dubai, the Carlton Tower has been the lifeblood of many amazing experiences of the thousands of guests who have enjoyed the hotel’s warm hospitality, and  it continues to attract guests seeking a taste of old-world charm.


Dubai Sheraton Hotel

Credit: Nicholas Janberg

Opened in: 1978

This iconic hotel has been a fixture of Dubai Creek’s skyline for as long as What’s On has been in circulation. One of the first five-star hotels to open in the city, it remains a beloved destination to this day, and despite being dwarfed by many surrounding newer architectural wonders, the hotel retains its distinctive silhouette looking as fresh as it did in 1978.


Sandy Beach Hotel & Resort, Fujairah

Opened in: 1978

Nestled along the pristine shores of Al Aqah, this coastal resort has been a sanctuary since 1978. Initially a haven for divers renting one of the 10 private chalets, Sandy Beach has maintained its original charm and despite the modernisation around it, Sandy Beach remains true to its roots, offering guests a unique experience defined by the beauty of the outdoors and a commitment to minimalism. With its laid-back atmosphere and stunning natural surroundings, it continues to be a resident favourite for a charming and retro staycation.


Dubai World Trade Centre

Opened in: 1979

Opening its doors in the same year that What’s On was launched, the Dubai World Trade Centre has been a hub of commerce and culture for over four decades. From international conferences to world-class exhibitions, it continues to play a vital role in shaping the UAE’s global reputation.


Le Meridien Abu Dhabi

Opened in: 1979

Welcoming guests since 1979, this beachfront hotel has been a cherished destination for residents and visitors seeking sun, sand, and relaxation. While a little worn around the edges, Le Meridien Abu Dhabi embodies a charm that long-standing residents hold dear.


Hyatt Regency Deira Dubai

Opened in: 1980

Only a few months younger than What’s On, Hyatt Regency Deira marked the arrival of the Hyatt brand in the UAE and set a new standard for luxury accommodation in Deira. With its iconic revolving restaurant and panoramic views of the city skyline, it remains a busy hotel and a solid option for those keen to base themselves near the port.


JA Beach Hotel, Jebel Ali

Opened in: 1981

OK, so we’re a couple of years older than JA Beach Hotel, but we had to include this gem. Originally known as The Jebel Ali Hotel, the sprawling resort opened in 1981 and has since become a cornerstone of Dubai’s hospitality landscape. With its expansive gardens, private beach, and world-class amenities, it continues to captivate guests looking for a family-friendly retreat.