UAE megaprojects: From world's tallest towers to manmade islands, 20 projects on the way

Large-scale projects continue apace in the Emirates for 2024

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The UAE is renowned across the globe for its megaprojects.

These are defined by the Project Management Institute as large-scale, complex ventures that typically cost more than $1 billion and take many years to build.

They include mixed-use developments as well as infrastructure projects aimed at supporting urban planning.

Every year, new megaprojects are launched in the UAE as ongoing ones reach completion, such as One Za'abeel, Uptown Tower Dubai and Atlantis the Royal.

See the slide show above and list below for the megaprojects that are on the way in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and elsewhere.

Ciel Tower

Ciel Tower in Dubai Marina – set to be the world's tallest stand-alone hotel at 365 metres – is scheduled to be completed this year.

The 82-storey tower will have more than 1,000 guest rooms and suites, as well as premium amenities such as the Ciel Observatory & Lounge on the 81st floor and a signature rooftop Sky Terrace with an infinity pool and bar.

A key feature of the hotel will be a 300-metre atrium with vertically stacked, landscaped terraces that will span the building’s floors.

Marsa Al Arab

Jumeirah Marsa Al Arab is expected to open to the public in phases throughout 2024, with no firm date specified for the hotel opening.

The building, with its superyacht-inspired design, was originally scheduled to open in 2021, but the pandemic delayed the project.

It will complete an “oceanic trilogy” alongside the wave-shaped Jumeirah Beach Hotel and sailboat-inspired Burj Al Arab.

It will have 303 sea-facing rooms and 84 suites, all of them with balconies.

There will be five private swimming pools and two exclusive beaches, as well as a premium yacht club and marina, with 82 berths. There will also be nine oceanfront private villas.

Dubai Wasl Tower

The 64-floor Dubai Wasl Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road will have what the developer says is the region's largest ceramic facade. It is designed to give the impression of “dynamic motion”.

Work on the tower is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year.

The 1.8 million-square feet building will have 229 residential units, and 258 hotel rooms as part of Dubai’s second Mandarin Oriental Hotel, as well as 185,345 square feet of office space and 11 parking floors. It will also feature a helipad.

Burj Binghatti, Dubai

Burj Binghatti Jacob & Co Residences aims to be the tallest residential tower in the world when it’s completed in 2026.

With more than 112 storeys, the Business Bay tower’s design is the work of Jacob Arabo, the founder of watchmaker Jacob & Co and a renowned diamond designer.

According to its website, the tower will have amenities such as an infinity pool overlooking the Dubai skyline, a spa, a gymnasium and a concierge team for day care, bodyguard, chauffeur and private chef services.

Dubai Creek Tower

Dubai Creek Tower, which was due to be 100 metres taller than the Burj Khalifa, is being redesigned, Emaar Properties' founder Mohamed Alabbar said in August.

The cable-tied tower, designed by the Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava, was due to be located in the centre of the Dubai Creek Harbour development.

The new plan is due to be unveiled later this year, with construction to be completed in 2025.

Al Habtoor Tower

Construction began last summer on one of the more recent additions to the megaprojects list.

Located off Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Habtoor Tower is expected to stand 345 metres tall upon completion.

The $3 billion residential building will be 81 floors high and have more than 1,700 units when it is completed by the third quarter of 2026.

Palm Jebel Ali

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, in May approved a new master plan for Palm Jebel Ali – a megaproject that will be twice the size of Palm Jumeirah.

The tourist attraction will include 80 hotels and resorts, green spaces and other leisure and retail amenities spanning 13.4 square kilometres.

The new projects within the development include enclosed beach areas, walkways, cafes and dining areas.

The World Islands

Development on the World Islands megaproject continues, with The Kleindienst Group opening the Cote d'Azur Monaco Hotel – its first property on The Heart of Europe project – last year.

The much-delayed $5 billion Heart of Europe project will be completed by 2026, according to Josef Kleindienst, the group's chairman.

It will have 16 hotels as well as “palaces” with private beach access.

Other properties set to open in the megaproject, on different islands, include The Island beach club and Anantara World Islands Dubai Resort.

Dubai Islands

Formerly known as Deira Islands, Dubai Islands is a development of five islands spread over 17 square kilometres, with more than 60km of waterfront – a third of which will be beaches.

Each island will have unique offerings, with cultural centres, recreational beaches, beach clubs and a golf club.

The islands will be home to more than 80 resorts and hotels.

Hatta redevelopment plan

Dubai announced plans in 2021 to build a beach, a new lake, a cable railway, several hotels, and 120km of bicycle paths in Hatta.

There are also plans to develop a mountainside health resort and the first tourist funicular system of its kind in the region that will transport visitors to Hatta Dam.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, ordered development to start in early 2022 and appointed a committee to oversee it.

Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park

Work on the world’s largest solar energy park, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, is continuing as Dubai moves forward with its plans to transition to cleaner energy sources.

Last month, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) opened the world's largest concentrated solar power project within the park as part of its fourth phase.

The fourth phase will provide clean energy for about 320,000 houses and cut 1.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions yearly.

In August, Dewa selected Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company Masdar to build and manage the 1,800 megawatt sixth phase of the solar park, which is expected to become operational in stages, starting from the third quarter of 2025.

Dubai Metro Blue Line

Dubai announced plans in November to add a third line to its metro network.

The 30km Blue Line described as the emirate's “largest new project in the public transport sector”, will connect Dubai International airport to areas with a population of one million residents, including Dubai Creek Harbour, Festival City, International City, Rashidiya, Warqa, and Mirdif, as well as urban areas like Silicon Oasis and Academic City.

It will consist of nine elevated stations and five underground stations, cost Dh18 billion ($4.9 billion) and will officially open in 2029.

Etihad Rail

The UAE’s roll-out of the Etihad Rail network was completed in February last year, with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid officially opening the freight line.

It consists of a fleet of 38 locomotives and more than 1,000 wagons.

The rail network stretches about 900km across the country – extending as far as Oman – and is expected to reduce carbon emissions by up to 21 per cent.

No date has been confirmed for when the UAE's passenger rail service will begin. However, it was announced last year that the first passenger station will be Sakamkam in Fujairah.

Etihad Rail also announced an agreement that will see a passenger service operate from Abu Dhabi to the Al Dhannah region to allow Adnoc employees to travel the 250km distance between the two locations.

Hudayriyat Island

Abu Dhabi unveiled a master plan for Hudayriyat Island in June.

The megaproject will span more than 51 million square metres, accounting for more than half of the Island.

It will feature residential communities, offering panoramic views of Abu Dhabi city and its waterfront.

The project will also deliver an array of new amenities, including Velodrome Abu Dhabi, Surf Abu Dhabi, a wide range of sport, commerce and leisure amenities, the largest urban park in the emirate, and a 220km-long network of cycle tracks.

The scheme – to be spearheaded by developer Modon Properties – will add 53.5km of coastline to the city, including 16km of beaches.

Jubail Island, Abu Dhabi

Jubail Island, located between Saadiyat Island and Yas Island, will have six residential village estates covering more than 400 hectares and is expected to be home to 10,000 residents within four years.

The Dh10 billion development by Jubail Island Investment Company will also have more than 18,000 square metres of office space and 8,000 square metres of retail space.

More than half of the Jubail Island development, nestled among Abu Dhabi’s protected mangrove reserve, will be left untouched by the real estate project.

Developers have planted 430,000 mangrove trees as part of efforts to conserve the ecological reserve.

Natural History Museum

Progress continues on the Natural History Museum in the Cultural District on Saadiyat Island.

The project will cover 35,000 square metres and will aim to take visitors on a 14-billion-year journey through time and space, from the origins of our universe to the Earth’s future.

Tourism chiefs said the museum is due to be completed at the end of 2025.

Saadiyat Grove

Saadiyat Grove is a Dh10 billion destination that spans 242,000 square metres and will eventually feature entertainment and leisure spaces as well as 3,000 residential units, two hotels and co-working spaces for new companies and start-ups.

It will have a 360-degree view of three museums on the island.

Within Saadiyat Grove is Louvre Abu Dhabi Residences, a complex limited to 400 apartments, which includes a 12-seater Cinema Privé.

Zayed National Museum

Located in Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island Cultural District, the Zayed National Museum celebrates the UAE's history and the legacy of its Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The building's distinctive soaring cluster of towers, inspired by a falcon's wings, can be seen from afar.

Designed by acclaimed UK architects Foster + Partners, the museum will narrate the story of Sheikh Zayed and showcase the history of the region and its cultural connections to countries around the world.

Two galleries on the ground floor will represent the heart of the museum.

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry – also behind the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain – the Abu Dhabi museum is set to open in the Saadiyat Cultural District in 2025.

The museum will cover 30,000 square metres, with its gallery spaces spread across four levels linked by glass bridges and a central atrium.

The 88 metre-tall building will feature nine cone-shaped structures to house commissions and acquisitions.

Aljada, Sharjah

Aljada, a sprawling 2.2-square kilometre site close to Sharjah’s airport, universities and the E311 motorway, is now about 30 per cent complete with major elements such as the mall and business district still to be built.

The Aljada site has a total sales value of Dh24 billion (a construction cost was not revealed) and will ultimately have 25,000 residential units. mostly apartments.

It will also have four hotels, three schools, tree-lined avenues and an entertainment complex designed by the acclaimed Zaha Hadid Architects.

Updated: January 04, 2024, 11:34 AM