Here are the top 12 biggest news stories from the UAE so far this year – What’s On Dubai

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Here’s what caught everyone’s eye so far this year… 

In a fast-paced city like Dubai, it can be hard to keep up with all the happenings across the emirates. Which is why we’re bringing you an overview of the past (almost) year, including some of the biggest news announcements and top trending stories.


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From iconic performances to mega-projects, grand openings to sudden closures, let’s take a look at the top 12 biggest news stories in the UAE from 2023 so far:

La Mer closed for redevelopment

Beloved beachfront destination, La Mer South, has been completely demolished and is set to be redeveloped into a dazzling new beach resort called J1 Beach, complete with 13 incredible new restaurants and beach clubs. Since the redevelopment, it looks like La Mer North and La Mer Central are also going to be demolished after all restaurants and leisure facilities closed. Although we don’t yet know the reason for the closures, we do know that you can still enjoy the public beach in this area.

Atlantis The Royal opened to guests

In true Dubai fashion, we were not satisfied with just one Atlantis on Palm Jumeirah, with parent company Kerzner International opening another sister location just down the crescent. Atlantis The Royal opened to great fanfare in February with a grand opening event that saw international A-listers and an exclusive live performance from global icon Beyonce and Swedish House Mafia. Comprising 795 rooms, suites, and penthouses, Atlantis The Royal features a total of 90 swimming pools and 17 restaurants – eight of which are by world-class celebrity chefs. Embodying pure luxury and opulence, this property is also home to three aquariums, the world’s largest jellyfish tank, the world’s first water meets fire fountain, a 22nd floor skypool, and the first-ever Nobu by the Beach.

30 per cent tax removed from alcohol

The 30 per cent tax was removed from all alcohol purchases in 2023, effective from Sunday, January 1 2023. Liquor stores African & Eastern and MMI immediately dropped their prices for consumers buying from shops.

Alcohol licenses are also now free to obtain since Sunday, January 1.  Those looking to apply will just need their Emirates ID for residents, or passport for tourists.  The mandatory alcohol license for all non-Muslims was previously Dhs270 per year.

Abrahamic Family House is now welcoming worshippers

Abrahamic Family HouseAbrahamic Family House

Saadiyat Island’s Abrahamic Family House, a mega project holding places of worship for the three Abrahamic religions, officially opened its doors to the public in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island this year. At the heart of this very special beacon of love, tolerance and peace are Imam Al-Tayeb Mosque, St. Francis Church, and Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue. Elegant and minimalistic, the mosque’s exterior is made up of seven arches, reflecting the importance of the number seven in Islam. In addition to the three individual sites of worship, there are communal areas such as the serene and reflective peace garden.

The Pointe to undergo redevelopment

The PointeThe Pointe

Following the closure of The Palm Fountains, it was confirmed that The Pointe on Palm Jumeirah will soon be undergoing redevelopment. Currently, no information has been shared about what will occupy the land held by The Pointe  — whether Nakheel will continue to operate commercial projects there, or perhaps shift to residential operations, but we are keeping our ears open for any official announcement. Stay tuned to whatson.ae for all the latest.

Part of DIFC to be transformed

More redevelopment is on the agenda for DIFC’s Gate Avenue. Zone B, which is the central section of Gate Avenue parallel to the main car park, is set to be redeveloped and transformed into residences, a hotel, retail, and office space. All shops, cafés, and restaurants in Zone B have closed their doors but the area is still open for pedestrians to access. Although we don’t have confirmation of exactly what is happening, hoarding has already gone up in the area with Eden House by H&H Development signage. Eden House is a luxury apartment tower located in Al Satwa, which is home to Michelin-star restaurant Moonrise.

Dubai’s public beaches to increase by 400 per cent

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai has approved a plan to increase Dubai’s public beaches by 400 per cent. The length of the emirate’s public beaches will increase from 21km to 105km by 2040. The new public beach master plan features development pillars that will see an increase of cycle paths and walkways, watersports, shops, cafes, restaurants, and family spaces. With a focus on preserving the local wildlife, mangrove plantation and wildlife sanctuaries will also be taken into consideration with the evolution of Dubai’s public beaches.

The Palm is getting a new skyscraper

Como Residences, by Dubai-based developer Nakheel, is a futuristic 71-storey tower that will be constructed on an empty plot on Palm Jumeirah. At the gateway to Palma Residences, Como Residences is set to be an ultra-luxurious residential tower at one of Dubai’s most iconic addresses. At 75 floors, it will be the tallest building on the Palm Jumeirah by some way, eclipsing the current tallest tower on The Palm, the 52-floor Palm Tower in the centre of the trunk.

Bollywood Parks Dubai permanently closed 

Bollywood Parks Dubai, part of Dubai Parks & Resorts, has closed down. The park, one of four theme parks at Dubai Parks & Resorts, took to Instagram, following a temporary closure during Ramadan, to announce that it has closed down effective immediately. The remaining three parks – Legoland Dubai, Legoland Waterpark and Motiongate, remain open as normal, as well as shopping and dining destination, Riverland. Plus, expected to open sometime this year, Dubai Parks & Resorts will open the world’s first Real Madrid destination theme park, featuring a range of Real Madrid-inspired interactions such as a museum, rides and football skill games.

Palm Jebel Ali relaunch

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai unveiled the masterplan of the Palm Jebel Ali back in May, which will see the destination transformed with hotels, beaches, residential and leisure attractions. The development initially came to a halt in 2009 after the global financial crash, but reports earlier this year suggested that master developer Nakheel was revisiting the project. After Dubai’s real estate market made a strong recovery in recent years, the project is now starting again. The new mega project is spread over some 13.4 square kilometres. The original plans featured six marinas, a water theme park, and even a ‘Sea Village’, where homes would be built over the water. So, we can’t wait to see what else gets announced.

A new 93km cycle highway

theloop-article

By 2040, Dubai is going to be home to a 93km city-wide climate-controlled urban highway called The Loop, which will connect residents across the city.  The climate-controlled urban highway called The Loop will connect over 3 million residents from all across the city, facilitating a more active approach to navigating Dubai. The Loop is set to provide a primary mode of transport for over 80 per cent of the city’s inhabitants, as well as being a place that brings together communities and provides leisure and wellness facilities. This multi-functional utopia will include luscious parks and vertical farming projects that contribute to maintaining food security in surrounding areas. Sounds dreamy.

World’s largest artificial surf park 

image galleryimage gallery

Water sports lovers in the capital and in the UAE have reason to rejoice as the biggest and most advanced artificial wave facility in the world, Surf Abu Dhabi, is set to open in early 2024. The expansive facility on Hudayriyat Island is planned to be just one crest of an expansive Modon masterplan that will also include a regional first velodrome and the biggest urban park in Abu Dhabi. With the potential to host big tour competitions and offering up the artificial surfing world’s longest ride, biggest barrel, as well as the largest man-made wave pool, this truly is radical class water sporting. But it’s not just for seasoned surf bros, the facility will also offer thrills for newbies and aspiring Point Breakers with literally zero chance of you getting mangled on a sand bar. All of which will undoubtedly make this one of the best places for surfing in the UAE.

Images: What’s On/Provided

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