Few places the planet exude confidence quite like Dubai does.
This city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an astonishing feat of vision, engineering, architecture and aspiration. Love it or not, it’s hard not to marvel at the place Dubai has become in what feels like the blink of an eye.
(Dubai above the clouds. Image credit: Dubai Tourism)
Photos of Dubai taken in the early 1990s show a minnow city resting quietly in the sandy expanses of the Arabian Peninsula. It’s hard to believe it’s the same place that now sparkles and grows like a living Emerald City beside (and out into) the gleaming, clear waters of the Persian Gulf.
(Palm Jumeirah. Image credit: Sam Dogan / Dubai Tourism)
With the passage of time, it’s evident that this is a city that never, ever sleeps. Every year something taller, faster, dreamier plants its feet in these desert sands. Depending on who you are, you might find this relentless evolution utterly irresistible or weird and inauthentic.
The ‘authenticity’ question is an interesting one. It’s true that there’s little physical evidence of ‘old’ Dubai but, scratch around and you’ll find it and many age-old traditions still practiced in this utterly eclectic and modern metropolis.
(Al Fahidi Historical District. Image credit: Dubai Tourism)
But is ‘new’ Dubai inauthentic? Many would argue that the emirate’s embrace of a bit of everything from just about everywhere is precisely what makes Dubai Dubai. It might just be that Dubai’s unique improbability and boldness is 100% authentic. After all, there is no other place like it.
(Dubai Fountain. Image credit: Dubai Tourism)
As often happens, green shoots of a new local culture develop in the wake of uber-developments and massive urban projects. A great example in Dubai is the evolution of the city’s Al Quoz industrial district, now home to some of Dubai’s most exciting art galleries and cafes housed in contemporary warehouse spaces. Al Quoz adds a rich layer to Dubai’s arts scene and cultural fabric, and a wonderful visitor experience for those who seek it out.
This year has been declared the Year of Zayed, to mark the 100th anniversary of the UAE’s founding father’s birth. So, what is in store for visitors heading to Dubai in 2018? What new attractions will they encounter?
ATAS accredited travel agents have been visiting Dubai for years now. Ask yours about how to make the most of a visit to this remarkable, ever changing city.
XLine: Try the planet’s longest urban zipline
Waiting for you this year at Dubai Marina, XLine is also one of the steepest and fastest ziplines in the world. One kilometre in length with an incline of 16 degrees, hold on tight as you fly along at up to 80km/h from 170 metres above the ground.
(XLine, Dubai Marina. Image credit: XLine)
Brave the XLine and you’ll from accelerate from 0-60km/h in 2.5 seconds, weave through skyscrapers and cross water, before landing on the terrace of Dubai Marina Mall.
Ain Dubai Observation Wheel
As you might expect, when it opens in late 2018, Dubai’s wheel will be the world’s largest.
(Ain Dubai under construction. Image credit: Dubai Tourism)
Under construction on Bluewaters Island near the Dubai Marina, Ain Dubai will reach an astonishing 210m in height offering sweeping views of renowned landmarks like Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah and Burj Khalifa.
A project some 10 years in the making, Dubai Frame opened in Zabeel Park in January 2018.
Designed to literally ‘frame’ some of the city’s most iconic buildings and older parts of the city when viewed from a distance on either side, Dubai Frame also offers incredible panoramic views from the top of the 150-metre-high structure.
(Dubai Frame. Image credit: [email protected] / Dubai Tourism)
Thrill-seekers will love the walkway down the middle of the viewing gallery. Step on its frosted glass panels and they immediately turn clear, revealing the heart-stopping view of Dubai beneath your feet.
Dubai Frame welcomes visitors from 9.00am to 9.00pm. Tickets are AED50 for adults, and AED20 for children.
Address: Al Kifaf, Zabeel Park Jogging Track, Dubai.
Dubai Safari opened its gates in December 2017, and is home to more than 2500 animals from all over the planet. Spread over 119 hectares, it has ambitions to be one of the world’s top ten zoos.
(Dubai Safari Park. Image credit: Dubai Tourism)
Dubai Safari is home to the only drive-through exhibits in the UAE including the hippo exhibit, baboon canyon, as well as lion, tiger, white rhino, elephant and crocodile enclosures. But Dubai Safari is about more than animals, conservation and education. The zoo’s Adventure Valley area features a playground zone, climbing net, climbing wall, bungee jumping and zip line.
The park is open every day of the year from 9.00am to 7.00pm, with tickets priced from AED20 to AED85.
Address: Al Warquaa 5 district – Dubai.
Al Seef District
Dubai’s cultural heart meets the city’s modern vision near the iconic Dubai Creek.
(Al Seef District. Image credit: Sebastian Opitz – Paralax Creations / Dubai Tourism)
The new Al Seef development is ready to make its mark here in Dubai’s heritage district. Beautiful traditions combine with modern designs as the city presents a collaboration between its proud past and vibrant future.
The best way to explore Al Seef is on foot, starting with the pedestrian-friendly Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, before wandering over to Al Seef and its charming walkways, modern marina and dining boulevard.
Al Seef also boasts an open-air floating market and creekside pontoons, featuring regional crafts and textiles, Emirati art spaces and exciting culinary pop-ups showcasing local flavours.
Zabeel House hotels
The Zabeel House brand by Jumeirah is new collection of design led hotels born in Dubai, located in eclectic urban neighbourhoods. Dubai’s vibrant Al Seefneighbourhood fits the Zabeel House sensibility perfectly, and is home to two properties: Zabeel House Al Seef, and Zabeel House Mini right next door.
(Pocket Room, Zabeel House Mini. Image credit: Zabeel House by Jumeirah)
Jumeirah’s Zabeel House ‘Upscale-Casual’ brand has been created in response to the continuing travel trend of discovery and exploration.
W Dubai – The Palm
Dubai’s second W hotel is scheduled to open in September on the Palm Jumeirah. The hotel will be home to 350 guest rooms and suites with sea view, and the E-WOW Suite which will be the largest suite in all of Dubai.
(Spectacular Room, W Dubai – The Palm. Image credit: W Dubai – The Palm)
The hotel’s ‘Away Spa’ will be the first in the Middle East offering 11 treatment rooms, a steam room, sauna and hammam.
Throw six restaurants and bars into the mix, and you have a pretty appealing addition to the local hotel scene.
Address: West Crescent, Palm Jumeirah – Dubai.
Gevora – The world’s tallest hotel
Originally planned as a residential tower, the Gevora Hotel opened in early 2018. This 75-storey hotel stands 356-metres tall (just a single metre taller than neighbour and previous record-holder the JW Marriott Marquis), and is capped with a golden spear.
(The golden Gevora Hotel. Image credit: Gevora Hotel)
There’s a viewing deck open to hotel guests and visitors (AED100 fee) which includes a free coffee and pastry. Be advised, however, that the Gevora doesn’t serve alcohol so you’ll have to head elsewhere for sundowners with a view.
The Gevora Hotel is located on Sheikh Zayed Road, right by Dubai Marina and just a short drive from The Palm, Dubai Mall and the World Trade Centre.
Address: 101 Sheikh Zayed Rd – Dubai.
Cityland Mall is scheduled to open in the second-half of 2018, and claims to be the world’s first nature-inspired mall. A pioneer of an emerging trend, Cityland Mall will blend a superior retail experience with sustainable design, ecological preservation and interaction with nature in a huge an open-air botanical garden at its core.
(Designer’s rendering, Cityland Mall. Image credit: Cityland Mall.)
Labelled ‘Central Park’, the mall’s green heart will also be home to a mini water park, a Japanese garden, a 360-degree rooftop garden, and a suite of restaurants and al fresco cafés serving local, regional and international fare.
Address: Wadi Al Safa 4, Beside Global Village, Mohammad Bin Zayed Road – Dubai.
Dubai Mall Extension
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more enormous, The Dubai Mall has added space for some 200 luxury flagship stores. The mall’s long-awaited Fashion Avenue extension is now open, welcoming a swathe of high-end boutiques including new offerings from Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Rolex, Hermes, and Cartier. *Swoon!
In case you didn’t know, The Dubai Mall is also home to Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, the SEGA Republic indoor theme park, and the remarkable child-sized city – KidZania.
Address: Financial Center Rd – Dubai.