20 New UAE Attractions For 2016

With the new year upon us, we here at Out and About UAE, are very excited for what the future holds. With a number of high-profile projects likely to be completed throughout the Emirates in the coming months – we proudly present for your reading pleasure, the best new UAE attractions for 2016:

01. Motiongate:

Image © Dubai Parks and Resorts

Being such a tourist haven, is surprising that the UAE doesn’t have more theme parks (with the exception of Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari World). Yet that is all about to change as we have a number of theme parks opening in Dubai this year. Motiongate is a Universal Studios-like experience, centered on the movies of Lionsgate and Dreamworks studios. Details are a little sketchy at the moment, but we do know that this will be a year round destination (meaning the majority of attractions are likely to be inside away from the harsh summer heat!).

What we do know is that there will be rides based upon The Smurfs, Madagascar, Shrek, Underworld, Zombieland and The Hunger Games. With the latter being described as: “Two spectacular rides including an immersive  adventure which will take guests through the Capitol on board a hovercraft to see the world of Panem. The second ride will be a launched roller coaster which transports guests from District 12 to the Capitol via a super high-speed Capitol bullet train.” – consider us very excited!

Location: Jebel Ali, Off Dubai – Abu Dhabi road
Expected Opening: October 2016

02. Bluewater Island:

Image © Meeras Holdings

This year Dubai will be getting its very own ferris wheel. The aptly titled Dubai Eye, will be situated on the newly created Bluewater Island just off the coast from JBR. The attraction will provide guests with unparalleled views of the marina area and across the ocean to the Palm Jumeirah and its crowning glory – the Atlantis Hotel. Construction is well underway with the struts for the wheel already in place, as well as new road infrastructure from the JLT area.

Upon completion The Dubai Eye will be the worlds tallest ferris wheel, standing at a whopping 210 meters! The wheel will be able to carry up to 1,400 passengers in its 48 capsules and is expected to receive up to 3 million visitors a year. There will also be the obligatory shopping and dining outlets.

Location: Bluewaters Island, Near Jumeriah Beach Residence
Expected Opening: TBC (Late 2016)

03. Louvre Abu Dhabi:

Image © Louvre Abu Dhabi

As Abu Dhabi strives to become the cultural hub of the UAE – we are hoping that the much delayed Louvre on Saadiyat Island, will finally be opened in the early part of this year.

Much like its counterpart in Paris, the Louvre here in the UAE will contain a multitude of artworks, all housed under some tremendous architecture designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel who describe the design in the following statement: “Two thirds of the museum is covered by a white dome which is an emblematic feature of Arabian architecture, evoking mosque and mausoleum. The dome’s seemingly random but carefully designed arrangement of geometric openings was inspired by the interlaced palm leaves traditionally used as roofing material. The interior will be illuminated by an enchanting, shifting ‘rain of light.”

There has also been speculation that parts of the museums interior are actually located underwater – we can’t wait to see if this is actually the case.

Location: Saddiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
Expected Opening: Spring 2016

04. Legoland Dubai:

Image © Legoland Dubai

Also part of the Dubai Parks and Resorts complex (which includes Motiongate) is Legland Dubai. Not only are we excited that this fun children’s theme-park has been replicated here in the Middle East, but that we are also getting the worlds first Legoland water park as part of the package!

The water park is set to feature over fifteen water slides, a lego wave pool, a duplo themed toddlers area and the build-a-raft-river – where you can build your own custom lego river raft to ride on the rapids!

The park itself will likely have forty lego themed rides, shows and attractions, 15,000 lego models and over sixty million lego bricks. All split into six distinct worlds – Factory, Lego City, Imagination, Kingdoms, Adventure and MiniLand. Having visited the attraction in the UK we predict that this will be great fun for the entire family.

Location: Jebel Ali, Off Dubai – Abu Dhabi road
Expected Opening: October 2016

05. Dubai Safari:

Dubai Safari
Image © Dubai Muncipality

Zoo’s and safari parks are always a controversial issue, and though we are not here to condone them – they are huge tourist attractions throughout many cities worldwide.

The 120 hectare project Dubai Safari will be located in Al Warqaa (opposite Dragon Mart), on the the Dubai to Hatta highway, and will replace the current Dubai Zoo located in Jumeirah.

Looking to be a completely interactive experience, Dubai Safari will allow guests to view over one thousands animals whilst riding in the comfort of air-conditioned jeeps, on an hour-long safari adventure. Hanan Hassan Al Aradi from Dubai Municipality recently told Gulf News that

“A team of specialists visited a number of the world’s best and important zoos, such as those in Indonesia, Singapore, Austria, Germany and the San Diego Zoo. It is important to note that we did not only use their best practices but also adapted them to suit the needs of Dubai.”

There will also be the opportunity to view nocturnal animals in an innovative new way using the latest 3D techniques. Plus a safari trip on the back of an Asian elephant will also be offered.

Location: Al Awir Road, Dubai
Expected Opening: Third Quater 2016

06. Flying Aces:

Ferrari World
Image © Ferrari World

Ferrari World continues its run of ‘worlds first’ attractions with the introduction of flying aces – the world’s steepest steel roller coaster, featuring a starting incline of 51 degrees and the world’s tallest loop at 52m (170ft).

This is in addition to Formula Rossa, the world fastest rollercoaster which propels visitors at a staggering 240kmph in under five seconds. Due to open any day now – we certainly can’t wait to ride this one!

Location: Ferrari World, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Expected Opening: January 2016

07. Dubai Frame:

Image © Dubai Frame

Originally scheduled to open in time for National Day last year, it is likely that the Dubai Frame will open very, very soon! Located in Zabeel Park, Dubai Frame will offer a unique perspective of the city. From the sky bridge, visitors will be able to enjoy a one-of-a-kind panoramic view.

On one side, the city’s skyline of high-rise towers will stand out, marked by iconic representatives of urban Dubai such as Burj Khalifa and Emirates Towers, while on the other the hustle and bustle of the older areas like Deira and Karama will stretch out. So depending which way you look, you will see ‘old’ or ‘new’ Dubai – this observation deck is likely to be one of the hottest new tourist attractions in the city.

Location: Zabeel Park, Dubai
Expected Opening: Early 2016

08. IMG World’s Of Adventure:

Image © IMG World’s Of Adventure

Another theme park to add to your list for this year. IMG World Of Adventures is scheduled to open this spring on the Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, close to the shopping hub at Global Village. The park will be split into distinct zones such as Cartoon Network, Marvel Superheroes and Lost Valley.

It will be the largest temperature controlled indoor theme park in the world, covering an area in excess of 1.5 million square feet. With the capacity to welcome more than 20,000 guests a day, the destination will feature a unique array of adrenaline-pumping roller coasters, thrill rides, and spine-tingling attractions. The park will likely be home to a number of world-firsts, a variety of themed retail stores, exclusive dining venues, and a 12-screen state-of-the-art cinema.

Location: City Of Arabia, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, Dubai
Expected Opening: Spring 2016

09. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi:

Image © Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

Another long awaited cultural attraction on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island is the Guggenheim. The museum is planned at 320,000 square feet and will be the Guggenheim Foundation’s largest facility. Architect Frank Gehry’s design, features exhibition galleries, education and research space, a conservation laboratory, a center for contemporary Islamic culture, and a center for “art and technology”.

The project has been delayed a number of times during construction and as yet, no exhibits have been confirmed… We are still optimistic that the project reaches its 2016 completion date.

Location: Saddiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
Expected Opening: TBC

10. Bollywood Park Dubai:

Image © Dubai Parks and Resorts

The last theme-park of the list (we promise). This Bollywood themed park will open simultaneously with Motiongate and Legoland in October of this year.

From cinematic simulation rides to blockbuster attractions, flamboyant live shows, to extraordinary entertainment, fine dining and street food to party venues, numerous shopping outlets to a grand Broadway- style epic Bollywood musical – get ready to immerse yourself in the spectacular and unique world of Bollywood.

For the first time ever, you will live, learn and experience the kaleidoscopic world of Mumbai’s famous film industry, in the world’s first Bollywood theme park covering 1.7million square feet.

Location: Jebel Ali, Off Dubai – Abu Dhabi road
Expected Opening: October 2016

11. Dubai Canal:

Image © Dubai Canal

The Dubai Canal is probably the most ambitious project on the list, as the sea is literally brought inland!

The project once complete, will comprise of one shopping mall (with rooftop park), four new luxury hotels, 450 restaurants, luxury housing, walkways and cycle paths. As a three kilometre canal is constructed from Business Bay to the Persian Gulfm, through Safa Park and Jumeirah.

At the time of writing the project is currently 61% complete and early designs indicate that we may have the ‘Venice of Dubai’ right on our doorsteps, and this is something that we are very happy about.

Location: Safa Park and Jumeirah
Expected Opening: TBC

12. Zayed National Museum:

Image © Zayed National Museum

At the heart of the Saadiyat Cultural District will be the Zayed National Museum. As the national museum of the UAE, it will tell the story of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, his unification of the United Arab Emirates, the history of the region and its cultural connections across the world.

Central to the stories told in the Museum are Sheikh Zayed’s strongly held values. These encompassed a passionate belief in education, conservation, environmental sustainability, heritage and culture, all underpinned by his humanitarianism and strong faith. The Zayed National Museum has been founded in the spirit of Sheikh Zayed’s work on behalf of Emiratis and people everywhere.

Location: Saddiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
Expected Opening: Late 2016

13. Al Ain Zoo Expansion:

Image © Al Ain Zoo

Arguably the best zoo in the region, Al Ain Zoo is undergoing major expansion this year with the introduction of a safari element to the already large park: “The African Safari will be the largest man-made safari in the world, covering an area of over 50 hectares and for the first time there will be no sectors with specific animals, but animals will be able to roam freely,” Andreas Bruckner, Acting Chief Operating Officer, Al Ain Zoo, told Emirates 24|7 newspaper recently.

Also new will be the oppurtunity to watch a live ‘cheetah run: “The cheetah will have a 120-metre-long race track with a lure system (an artificial rabbit). We will have a mini amphitheater for approximately 250 people from where one can watch the run and see the animal’s acceleration” – if this isn’t reason enough to take a trip to the Garden City – then we don’t know what is!

Location: Al Ain Zoo, Zoo District, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi Emirate
Expected Opening: Spring 2016

14. Al Noor Island:

Al Noor
Image © Al Noor Island

Often neglected, Dubai’s neighbouring Emirate of Sharjah is fast becoming a cultural hub, with a number of interesting museums and historical attractions. The newest is Al Noor Island, located on Khalid Lagoon which houses a butterfly park and literature pavilion.

The 45,470 square meter island has been meticulously designed to include landscaped areas and innovative architecture. As night falls, the island is illuminated with LED light installations bringing art works to life in a multi-sensory experience – and we must say that it looks absolutely amazing!

The focal attraction is the butterfly house which is home to a estimated 500 butterflies, including the African Monarch, Autumn Leaf and the Common Rose swallow-tail butterfly. For those seeking calm and refuge, the blossom-shaped Literature Pavilion is an open seating area surrounded by light reflections of Arabic calligraphy and scattered with cushions. For little ones there is a forest playground where children can climb trees and run free in an outdoor natural environment.

Location: Khalid Lagoon, Sharjah
Expected Opening: January 2016

15. Burj Al Arab Expansion:

Image © Burj Al Arab

The world’s only 7-star hotel is raising the bar on its own level of luxury by creating a private man-made beach resort. Facing the sea, the sundeck will stretch 100 metres into the Arabian Gulf and cover a whopping 10,000 square metres.

Dubbed “The Burj North Deck” this new project is set to be a mini-island where guests will have access to 32 beach cabanas, 400 sun loungers, a restaurant and a bar. With two mega-sized swimming pools, a 621-metre fresh water one and an 828-square metre salt water one.

Location: Burj Arab, Umm Suqeim, Dubai
Expected Opening: May 2016

16. Riverland:

Image © Dubai Parks and Resorts

Riverland is a new outdoor dining destination featuring a medieval French town a 1950’s style American boardwalk and Indian themed zone and a large outdoor concert venue called the Peninsula. Along the water’s edge, you can enjoy bustling street life with the very best performers,concerts and festivals.

With several retailers already confirmed. Alongside Tom’s Kitchen (from Michelin starred chef Tom Aikens) we can also expect: Giraffe, Shake Shack, Famous Dave’s BBQ, Galito’s Flame Grilled Chicken, Tortilla, Jamba Juice and Starbucks.

This is likely to become one of the hottest dining sports in Dubai this winter and is the gateway to Legoland, Motiongate and Bollywood Parks in Jebel Ali.

Location: Jebel Ali, Off Dubai – Abu Dhabi road
Expected Opening: October 2016

17. Green Planet Bio-Dome:

Image © Meeras Holdings

For some time now we have known that Dubai’s premier outdoor shopping and retail destination – CityWalk – was due for expansion. Exactly what the expansion would entail has be unclear, until now…

Dubai is getting the Middle East’s very first ‘bio-dome.’ Known as The Green Planet, the project will be an enclosed tropical ecosystem that replicates the conditions of a rainforest – featuring over 3,000 plants and animals, plus the world’s largest indoor man-made, life-sustaining tree.

The sustainable facility has a primary objective to educate and raise awareness about the delicate balance of nature. Featuring four levels of immersive discovery that will take visitors from treetop canopy, to butterfly balcony, waterfall pool and flooded forest tunnel – this looks like a great new attraction for Dubai.

Location: Citywalk, Al Wasl Road, Dubai
Expected Opening: February 2016

18. Dubai Opera:

Image © Emaar

One of the most exciting projects coming to Dubai this year is the opening of the Opera House in Downtown Dubai. Located under the shadow of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Opera is the first venue of its kind in the UAE and is set to become a cultural hub for residents and visitors alike.

Designed to resemble a traditional dhow boat, in which the ‘bow’ of the structure will house the opera’s main stage, construction is being undertaken by Emaar (the company behind Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Mall). Dubai Opera House will be a three mode venue, meaning that it can transform, depending upon the event being held into – theatre, concert hall, or flat floor – meaning that it can become an event space.

The opera house will be the focal point of a newly created Opera District that is planned to include hotels, a retail plaza (well it is Dubai), a waterfront promenade, design studios and art galleries. The ultimate aim is to create a ‘vibrant cultural scene’ to rival such cities as London and New York.

Location: Downtown Dubai, Dubai
Expected Opening: March 2016

19. Palm Jumeirah Boardwalk:

Image © Nakheel

A new waterfront destination is coming to the Palm Jumeriah.  The Boardwalk, will transform the manmade palm’s protective crescent into an 11km destination for walking, shopping and dining.

The ambitious project includes an East and West Pier – each stretching 100 metres out to sea! With planned glass-encased cafes and restaurants, expect intensive views of the Burj Arab on one side and Dubai Marina/JBR on the other..

The new boardwalk will be built over the rocks of the current breakwater, measuring six metres wide and with approximately 30 kiosks, offering refreshments and souvenirs – this will be a great outdoor destination when complete and a must needed infrastructure boost for the palm.

Location: Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
Expected Opening: Late 2016

20. Lapita Hotel:

Lapita the French-Polynesian hotel will be the latest luxury hotel to open in Dubai this year and is operated under the Marriott brand: “Savor the aroma of delicious cuisine and share good times with family and friends in a cozy and fun setting. Take refuge at our rooftop bar that immerses you and draws inspiration from the rhythm of a tropical rain forest. Unwind and let the world stand still at our signature Spa. Lagoon style pools add splendour and serenity to your stay. Themed activities at Lapita center are designed to offer endless surprises to children and the young at heart.”

Image © Dubai Parks and Resorts

Location: Jebel Ali, Off Dubai – Abu Dhabi road
Expected Opening: October 2016

This is just the start of things to come, with Deira Night Market, Museum Of The Future, Meydan One, Aladdin City and The Mall Of The World all headed our way in the next five years… Consider the UAE the place to be!

All views within this blog are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated.