If you thought we already have enough luxe hotels and swanky restaurants, then think again – in Dubai, there's always room for more. This year, we'll welcome some seriously exciting new projects, including big-name hotels, world-renowned restaurants and malls.
Here are the 21 soon-to-open projects worth shouting about.
Hotels and their restaurants
A string of new five-star properties is set to open this year, and with them they bring plush spas, glitzy lounges and restaurants backed by world-renowned chefs, from Heston Blumenthal to Ariana Bundy.
The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences
The unique architectural design of The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences, which will open later this year, has made international headlines. The UK's Daily Mail dubbed it the "wacky, Jenga-style resort". They've got a point, but it also looks like Rome's Colosseum, Spain's Aqueduct of Segovia and Alhambra Unesco World Heritage Site in Granada. While its stylings are certainly a talking point, so is the fact that famed British chef Heston Blumenthal, whose restaurants have gained multiple Michelin stars, will open the Middle East's first Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. It's the world's third iteration of the restaurant. Other exciting dining spots set to open at the property include a branch of the world-renowned Spanish spot Jaleo, the famed Cantonese restaurant Hakkasan and Ariana's Persian Kitchen by the Iranian-American celebrity TV chef and cookbook author, Ariana Bundy.
Five Jumeirah Village Dubai
The new Five property features 269 swimming pools on landscaped garden terraces that offer panoramic views of the Dubai skyline. The five-star hotel is scheduled to open in August. “Five Jumeirah Village features a revolutionary design, which was conceptualised in-house by Five, and has been patented and registered as a trademark in 168 countries,” a spokesperson explains. “This 60-storey hotel and hotel apartments will offer a unique experience that showcases the water and earth elements of our brand.” It will have 247 hotel rooms and suites, as well as 221 one- and two-bedroom apartments and 33 four-bedroom flats.
Mandarin Oriental Jumeira
Set to open in the first quarter of 2019, the Jeffrey Wilkes-designed beachfront hotel is imbued with a sense of chic via California-style aesthetics. Among six new restaurants and lounges are Tasca, the first international eatery from Michelin-starred Portuguese chef Jose Avillez, as well as Netsu, the Japanese steakhouse from Nobu-trained chef and restaurateur Ross Shonhan. Meanwhile, a 2,000-square-metre spa will introduce treatments unique to the property, including the Nomadic Sensory Journey, which features Emirati drumming as part of the healing process. This will be the city’s first luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel, with a second to follow on Sheikh Zayed Road in November 2020.
Taj Exotica Resort & Spa and Taj JLT
We don't have a specific launch schedule for these hotels – but the Taj team reveal it will be before the year ends. The first to come may be the Middle East's first Vivanta by Taj in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, with the opening of the 325-room, five-star Taj Exotica Resort & Spa on Palm Jumeirah's western crescent to follow. The Taj Group, one of India's largest hospitality companies, already has two properties in Dubai, including the Taj Dubai near the Burj Khalifa, which boasts popular venues such as Eloquent Elephant, Treehouse and Miss Tess.
W Dubai – The Palm
Within mere weeks, The Palm Jumeirah will welcome one of Dubai’s most anticipated – and pet-friendly – hotels. W Dubai – The Palm will have 350 guest rooms and suites over seven floors. SoBe Latin American-inspired rooftop bar will boast 360-degree views, while the Wet Deck will likely become a new hotspot. As if that’s not enough, the hotel will feature two impressive new restaurants: Torno Subito by Italian restaurateur Massimo Bottura, who’s behind Osteria Francescana, the three- Michelin-star restaurant in Modena, Italy, and an offering from Akira Back, of Iron Chef fame, who brings his blend of Japanese cuisine with a Korean twist to the Middle East for the first time.
Grand Plaza Movenpick Media City
This five-star property, slated for a March 1 opening, is located in the heart of Dubai Media and Internet City, offering views of The Palm Jumeirah and Emirates Golf Club. It’ll feature 235 rooms and suites, as well six new food and beverage outlets, which includes all-day dining spot Slice – The Neighborhood Deli and Twenty-Three Rooftop Bar.
Radisson Hotel, Dubai Damac Hills
Located in Trump International Golf Club, this hotel is set to welcome its first guests towards the end of 2019. It will feature 481 one- and two-bedroom suites, two restaurants, a spa, kids’ club and an outdoor pool.
Waldorf Astoria DIFC
February is when the Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre is scheduled to open its doors on the 18th to 55th floors of the Burj Daman. The decor is inspired by early 1960s New York, with its neutral tones and brass elements seen across the guest rooms. Diverse restaurants and lounges with indoor and outdoor seating will also open, including St. Trop rooftop bar and New York’s famed Bull & Bear prime steakhouse.
The St Regis Dubai – The Palm and St Regis Beach Club
This luxe new hotel will span 18 floors of the soon-to-open The Palm Tower, which is attached to Nakheel Mall. One of its crowning attractions is the rooftop infinity pool on the 50th floor. One floor up will also be a restaurant complex, as well as a viewing deck on the 52nd level. Guests will enjoy access to the brand-new St Regis Beach Club, located at the nearby Palm West Beach complex. That will include dining, leisure and fitness facilities, as well as an infinity pool and gym. The hotel and beach club are slated to open towards the end of 2019, while the rest of the tower will open in 2020.
Restaurants and bars
Alongside all the new restaurants and bars housed in brand-new luxury hotels, we’ll also say hello to others in established landmarks across the city.
Seafood dishes inspired by southern Italy and the Amalfi Coast are what you can expect from Alici. Not to mention sea views, fresh Mediterranean- style interiors and seasonal menus. The team behind Jumeirah Al Naseem’s Il Borro Tuscan Bistro are set to open the new venue on Bluewaters Island very soon.
Indya by Vineet
Vineet Bhatia, the world's first chef to receive a Michelin star for Indian cuisine, is opening a second Dubai venue at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa soon. His other restaurant, Indego by Vineet, is well-known for its vibe and fine-dining-style food. This new one, however, promises to give "a whole new meaning to Indian street food". He's taken classic dishes and given them a contemporary upgrade and it'll all be served in a "vibrant, colourful and eclectic backdrop".
At some point this year, the team behind New York’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant Marea will open their second restaurant in the world at Dubai International Financial Centre. Its high-end Italian menu is designed by acclaimed chef Michael White. The New York branch melds the flavours of coastal Italy with the style and swagger of New York, offering dishes that “highlight the best of the sea”.
Restaurants at The Pointe
Palm Jumeirah’s newest leisure and entertainment area is still a work in progress, it seems. While most of the shops and activity spots have already opened, there are still plenty of restaurants yet to come. These include: Argentina Grill, a new branch of Bareburger, Egyptian spot Dar Elkamar, Hook & Cook seafood eatery, La Bella Vita gelato, The Kasap Turkish Cuisine – to name a few.
One of Lebanon’s most famous clubs will hit Dubai early this year. The Beirut rooftop bar first opened in 2003, and has since become a must-visit – celebrities from Nicole Scherzinger to Tinie Tempah have been spotted partying there. The UAE version, which will be based in Dubai Design District, is set to be along the same lines, if the numerous teaser videos are to be believed.
O Beach Ibiza
The newly rebranded Spanish hot spot is opening a Dubai branch in autumn. The lavish beach resort, which is located on the west coast of Ibiza, is best known for hosting star-studded poolside parties, world-famous live DJs and performances by impressive aerial artists. Party brands such as Candypants already host regular events there, too, so we’re hoping for some exciting UAE collaborations. The location of the resort has not been revealed yet.
Performance and arts
There are plenty of performances to look forward to in the UAE this year, but there are also a couple of new venues that are set to blow the stage doors wide open…
This will be the region's largest indoor arena and will be ready to welcome 17,000 spectators when it opens in Dubai's City Walk later this year. The venue will be able to accommodate everything from sporting events to live concerts and gala dinners year-round, and will be managed by AEG Ogden, whose portfolio also includes London's The O2 Arena. The watertight roof structure weighs approximately 4,000 tonnes (equivalent to seven A380 airplanes) and has been designed to allow for excellent acoustics. Abdulla Al Habbai, group chairman at Meraas, says: "We are confident that Dubai Arena will position the city on the international entertainment touring circuit and the audiences will have the opportunity to witness the world's most talented performers and sporting events in the heart of Dubai."
The Arts Club
Do you want to be a member of the same club novelist Charles Dickens once belonged to? Well, this year you can, as London's most famous private members institution, The Arts Club, is set to open up in the new ICD Brookfield development in DIFC. Founded in 1863, the establishment is a haven for anyone who has a professional or amateur interest in the arts, literature or sciences. The Dubai space will stretch across five floors and include a rooftop terrace, three restaurants and bars, a cigar club, exhibition spaces and a business centre.
If your New Year’s resolution is to save money, then don’t expect it to last too long, as Dubai is about to welcome four incredible new shopping hubs.
You’ll have more of a reason to visit Jebel Ali this year, as this new shopping mall allows its shiny new doors to slide open on a yet-to-be-confirmed date. Forty restaurants and cafes and 120 stores will launch with it, as well as a 50-seater food court and 2,310 parking spaces. Most excitingly, is the opening of Dubai’s second Ikea branch, as well as a premium branch of India’s PVR Cinemas.
We don’t have a scheduled launch date for this one, but we’re assured it’ll be this year. When it does open, the new Palm Jumeirah mall will boast 350 shops, restaurants and leisure attractions set over five floors, plus three underground parking levels with 4,000 spaces. It’ll also have a monorail station and a restaurant-laden roof plaza, which also acts as an access point for The Palm Tower viewing deck.
The Night Market at Deira Islands
The Deira Night Souq may have been renamed, but it's still set to be the world's largest night market, with 5,300 quayside shops, restaurants and cafes at Deira Islands. It'll stretch 1.9 kilometres along the waterfront, and feature a contemporary take on a traditional Arabian souq. Within one week of the project being announced the market was fully leased to young Emirati entrepreneurs. "It's set to bring together a new generation of local traders at Dubai's oldest, most traditional business hub," says a spokesperson. We don't have a specific opening date, but it is set to be sometime this year.
Not only will this 205,000- square-metre, nature-inspired mall feature more than 350 retail stores, 75 dining outlets, 16 cinema screens and 6,000 shaded parking spaces, but it will also house a sprawling 18,600-square-metre open-air garden dubbed "Central Park". That'll include a mini Miracle Garden; a water park; walking track; 300-year-old ancient tree garden; a Japanese-inspired space; a 360-degree, foliage-strewn rooftop area; and a series of restaurants and cafes that will overlook it all. If that's not enough, the Global Village-adjacent centre will also feature a 3,000-seat amphitheatre, and a mini version for kids, providing a much-needed new platform for performing arts in the city. The opening date has not yet been announced, but – again – we've been assured it will be in 2019. Cityland Group is also drawing up plans to replicate the idea in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain once the mall in Dubai has launched.