With the new year just around the corner, it's time to look ahead to what the next 12 months have in store for the UAE. With Expo 2020 set to start in October, we already know it's going to be a huge year for the country, but there are plenty of other exciting things to look forward to.
From skyscrapers to mega-malls, here are the new attractions that you can explore as they open up throughout the year...
Abu Dhabi's Reem Island is largely residential but next year it will become the home of one of the city's largest shopping and leisure outlets: Reem Mall. The huge mall is taking shape on the centre of the island and is scheduled to open in late 2020. Not only will it have more than 450 stores, including a hypermarket, four department stores, two food courts and a multiplex cinema, it will also house Snow Abu Dhabi, an 11,612-square metre snow park featuring 13 rides and attractions.
The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences
Dubai's Palm Jumeirah is set to gain its second Atlantis hotel next year, when The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences opens. The shell of the unique design has taken its place on the Dubai skyline since construction began, showing how much bigger it will be than the original hotel. The main building work is now complete, with the hotel in the fit-out stage.
Once it opens in the second half of 2020, it will be home to 13 restaurants – six from celebrity chefs including Heston Blumenthal, Costas Spiliadis and Gaston Acurio – as well as 90 swimming pools, three aquariums and the world’s largest jellyfish tank.
ME by Melia
The five-star ME by Melia will be the only hotel in the world to be fully designed both inside and out by the late Zaha Hadid when it opens in February next year. Located in The Opus in Dubai's Burj Khalifa district, the 19-storey hotel will have 93 rooms and feature the flowing lines and curves that are a hallmark of the Iraqi architect's work. It will also house 15 restaurants and bars and will be pet-friendly, with four-legged friends receiving their own welcome packs at check-in.
The world's tallest observation wheel, Ain Dubai, is slated to open in the city next year. Standing 250 metres tall on Bluewaters Island, Ain Dubai will open before Expo 2020 in October. When it does start operating, it will be 80 metres taller than the current world record holder in Las Vegas, and almost double the height of the London Eye.
Abu Dhabi International Airport’s Midfield Terminal
Although no official opening date has been announced, testing started at Abu Dhabi International Airport's Midfield Terminal in June, meaning it is likely to be on track for a 2020 opening. When it does open, it will be able to process up to 8,500 travellers per hour. The x-shaped design will an area exceeding 74.2 hectares and will cost more than Dh19 billion. Larger plans for the airport include more hotels, shops and an aviation district in Al Falah.
Museum of the Future
Dubai's Museum of the Future will open next year, boasting a research centre, labs, classrooms and a space for visitors to experience new technologies. Located in front of Emirates Towers on Sheikh Zayed Road, the eye-shaped silver structure will also fund and market ideas for futuristic prototypes and services.
Dubai's Palm Tower is set to loom over the entrance to The Palm Jumeirah when it opens next year. The residential building is connected to Nakheel Mall, which opened last month, and will eventually be a mix of residential properties and luxury hotels. At the top of the tower will be The View at The Palm, a 240-metre high observation deck offering staggering views over Dubai and the Arabian Gulf. It will also be home to one of the world's tallest infinity pools, which will run 360 degrees around the tower.
The world-famous waxwork museum is set to open on Dubai's Bluewaters Island in 2020. The project was first announced in 2008, but delays saw the opening date pushed back. Although there is no word yet on which celebrities are set to be recreated in wax, you can expect to see famous faces from around the region and further afield.
Al Wasl Plaza
Dubai is gearing up to host the world's greatest show next year, as Expo 2020 officially arrives. Amid the dozens of new attractions across the city will be Al Wasl Plaza. The dome – filled with fountains, waterfalls, parks and palm-lined courtyards – will be 65 metres tall with a diameter of 150m. Ten thousand visitors will be able to fit inside.
Mohammed bin Rashid Library
Although an official opening date is yet to be announced, the Mohammed bin Rashid Library looks set for a 2020 start. Designed to resemble an open book, this seven-storey library sits on the edge of Dubai Creek at Al Jaddaf and will be a world-class institution.
Address Sky View
Opening in Downtown Dubai in late 2019 is Address Sky View, a new luxury hotel in the heart of the city. The hotel is more than 200 metres tall, and will be home to the new Sky Walk attraction that will enable visitors to walk around a platform suspended from the roof of the building, dangling over Dubai. It will also be home to a new rooftop infinity pool, as well as bars and restaurants.
Meydan One will be one of Dubai's biggest malls when it opens in 2020. With more than 550 shops and 190 restaurants, it will also house a hypermarket, cineplex, fountain, go-karting track and 1-kilometre indoor ski slope. It is set to open late next year.
Zombie Apocalypse Park
A new zombie-themed attraction will come to Dubai in 2020, with live shows, a virtual-reality cinema and escape games, all powered by glow-in-the-dark technology. The Zombie Apocalypse Park will be located at the Night Market in Deira Islands, an in-construction quayside destination that will be the world's largest night market when it opens. When finished, the market will stretch 1.9km along the waterfront, with 5,300 shops, restaurants and cafes.
Al Qana National Aquarium
Opening in the coming dining and entertainment destination Al Qana, the National Aquarium will be the largest in the Middle East. Spanning more than 7,000 square metres, it will be home to 33,000 marine creatures that will be cared for by a team of 80 experts and specialists. The animals will be responsibly and ethically sourced from around the world, according to organisers, with the destination highlighting the importance of conservation throughout its themed zones.
From January 2020, you will be able to stroll among Abu Dhabi's beautiful mangroves, when the new Mangrove Boardwalk opens. It will have viewing terraces, a visitor centre, children's play area and kayaking. The walkway is being built on Jubail Island between Yas and Saadiyat Islands and has been designed to raise awareness about the environmental significance of mangroves.
RAK Bungee Jump
In early 2020, Jebel Jais will add a bungee jump to its activities on offer. The 23-metre – 1,500 metres above sea level – will offer a free fall of 8 metres. It is part of a series of new adrenalin-filled attractions to launch in the emirate, including a suspended obstacle course and a zip-line tour through the mountains.