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20 UAE megaprojects: From marvellous museums to malls

From residences to rail lines, check out the UAE’s new architectural wonders.

Time and time again, the country has proved – if you build it, they will come. Whether it’s the recently opened Mohammed Bin Rashid Library or the Museum of the Future, we love watching new UAE megaprojects rise up from the sand and into the sky.

The country is never short of ambition and the current UAE megaprojects include everything from an exceptional National Railway Network to a snow-capped theme park. Here are the most exciting UAE megaprojects coming to an emirate near you.


Sharjah, the cultural hub of the UAE, is home to an exciting megaproject. Expanding over 2.2 square kilometres, Aljada is set to open in 2028. Located near the Sharjah airport, this place is going to be the spot where modern urban planning and design genius come together. The area will be home to four hotels: Address, Rove, and Vida. Brace yourselves for Sharjah’s first-ever post-pandemic business district, which is a network of nearly 40 super sleek buildings that form the commercial heart of the city. Plus, there is going to be a wellness centre. Next up is the Aljada – the mall designed by none other than the renowned Zaha Hadid Architects. Picture futuristic, curved buildings out of a sci-fi movie and an observation deck to get a bird’s-eye view of the whole city. There’s also going to be a showpiece water feature making this mall a must-visit destination.

GO: Visit www.arada.com for more information.

Anantara Mina Al Arab, Ras Al Khaimah 

If you’ve been daydreaming of going to the Maldives, well, you can get a taste of that closer to home. Anantara Mina Al Arab is set to open in 2023, and will have 174 guest rooms, suites and swoon-worthy overwater villas. Located in Mina Al Arab, Ras Al Khaimah, it will also be home to an Asian restaurant, seafood grill, beach and pool bar. Plus, there’ll be plenty of water sports to keep the family entertained. 

GO: Visit www.anantara.com/en/mina-al-arab-ras-al-khaimah for more information.

Dubai Reefs

Dubai Reefs aims to be the world’s largest ocean restoration and ecotourism project. It will include a community for marine research and a sustainable floating living lab. As coastal cities like Dubai are at risk of rising sea levels, this hopes to address the issue. Plus, the site will include educational, hospitality, residential, retail and research facilities. At the heart of Dubai Reefs is marine research, which aims to protect Dubai’s coastal and marine environment. The project plans to build a diverse artificial reef, which covers 200 square kilometres. Plus, it will be home to more than one billion corals and more than 100 million mangrove trees.

GO: Visit https://urb.ae for more information. 

Dubai Public Beaches

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has green-lit a mind-blowing plan: a jaw-dropping 400% increase to the length of Dubai’s public beaches by 2040. The current 21-kilometre stretch of sandy coastline is set to expand to a mind-boggling 105 kilometres, offering beach lovers plenty of space to soak up the sun, dive into the sea and build sandcastles. The plan focuses on utilising existing urban areas efficiently, while also preserving natural areas and increasing accessibility to public transportation. From cosy beach loungers to beachside cafes serving up tasty treats, Dubai’s pulling out all the stops to make sure you have the best beach experience ever.

GO: Visit https://mediaoffice.ae for more information.

Etihad Rail

All aboard. Europe has the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, the Swiss Alps has The Glacier Express and now, the UAE has Etihad Rail which has been operational since February 2023. When it comes to transport, this is one of the most exciting UAE megaprojects – the train line already connects 11 cities across seven Emirates. The rail line linking Abu Dhabi and Dubai has been completed, but the whole network will stretch 1,200 kilometres from the border of Saudi Arabia to the border of Oman.

GO: Visit www.etihadrail.ae for more information. 

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is set to open in 2025, and is designed by the world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. Gehry’s greatest architectural hits include Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, United States to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, so we are expecting him to produce something just as striking for Abu Dhabi. The venue is located in Saadiyat Cultural District and will be home to 28 galleries, which will showcase modern art from West Africa, North Africa and South Asia. 

GO: Visit https://abudhabiculture.ae/en/experience/museums/guggenheim-abu-dhabi for more information. 

Louvre Abu Dhabi Residences, Abu Dhabi

Aldar is helping build this city with rock and soul. Louvre Abu Dhabi is already the cultural soul of the capital. If only an iconic address will do, you can call Louvre Abu Dhabi Residences your home. The residential complex will include 400 apartments with enviable amenities such as a gym, sauna and cinema. Plus, it will have its very own Le Salon Détente – a gallery for residents that has been curated by your next-door neighbours at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

GO: Visit www.aldar.com/en for more information.

Meydan One Mall, Dubai

Malls aren’t just for shopping. To prove the point, upon completion Meydan One Mall will be home to the world’s longest indoor ski slope, 180 restaurants and bars, 21 cinema screens and dancing fountains. Plus, when you do want to go shopping, of course, there’ll also be more than 500 retail outlets spread across 12,000 square meters. 

GO: Visit http://meydanone.com/en for more information.

Mina Zayed, Abu Dhabi 

Mina Zayed is part of the UAE’s origin story, as it’s an old port side trading hub that was instrumental in the country’s economic success. Now it is getting the megaproject treatment, as it will be turned into a three million square meter waterfront destination with entertainment, shopping and homes. If you want to get an idea of what it will look like, the new Mina Zayed fish market has just opened with 104 stalls. 

GO: Visit www.modon.ae/en/mina-zayed-project for more information.

Natural History Museum, Abu Dhabi

Saadiyat Cultural District is the cultural gift that keeps on giving. Natural History Museum is set to open in 2025 in the capital, and it will be a must-visit family-friendly destination. The impressive collection will cover everything from marine biology to palaeontology. When it’s open, you can meet the likes of Stan, a 67-million-year-old skeleton of a tyrannosaurus rex, and the seven-billion-year-old Murchison Meteorite. 

GO: Visit https://abudhabiculture.ae/en/experience/museums/natural-history-museum-abu-dhabi for more information.

One Za’abeel, Dubai

Venice may have the beauty of the Bridge of Sighs, but Dubai has the bombastic One Za’abeel – two skyscrapers connected by the world’s longest cantilever, The Link. The new structure will be home to residences, retail and a new One&Only One Za’abeel hotel. When in Dubai, expect Insta-worthy additions – here it’s the likes of celebrity chefs and a sky-high swimming pool.

GO: Visit https://onezaabeel.com for more information. 

Palm Jebel Ali

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has given the thumbs up to Palm Jebel Ali. The ambitious project, part of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, is set to elevate Dubai’s status as a leading global lifestyle destination and reinforce its position as one of the world’s top cities for business and tourism. Palm Jebel Ali will leave you itching for a taste of luxurious living. We’re talking about 13.4 square kilometres of land, stretching across an area twice the size of Palm Jumeirah. You’ll get lush green spaces, complemented by one-of-a-kind waterfront experiences, a coastline expansion of approximately 110 kilometres, and more than 80 80 swanky hotels and resorts.

GO: Visit https://mediaoffice.ae for more information.

Ramhan Island

Abu Dhabi is set to welcome a new $3.5 billion development, Ramhan Island. Located 20 minutes from the capital, it will feature 1,800 beach villas, 1,000 residences, a hotel and a marina. Ramhan Island is being developed by Emaar founder, Mohamed Alabbar, through his private company Eagle Hills. So far, we know that the development will include high-end shops and restaurants, alongside a luxury hotel and floating villas. The recently released images include Maldives-like beach villas located on the sea. Each of the eight villas boasts a different distinct design and range from 265 meters square to 700 meters square. Plus, there are properties spanning one and two stories with a slick, sophisticated design.

GO: Visit www.eaglehills.com for more information.

Sharjah Floating Theater

Is it a seashell? A theatre? Well, it’s all of those things and more. Sharjah Government Media Bureau has announced its next megaproject: Sharjah Floating Theater. The magnificent new theatre, which can accommodate 1,000 visitors, promises to be one of the emirate’s cultural highlights. Sharjah Floating Theater is located in Kalba and boasts views of the Kalba Corniche and Arabian Gulf. In true UAE fashion, it has a unique shape. In this case, the island is shaped like a seashell and is surrounded by water basins. His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council, Ruler of Sharjah not only approved the project, but came up with the idea of the seashell shape himself. 

GO: Visit https://sgmb.ae for more information.

Surf Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is making waves. The world’s largest surf park, Surf Abu Dhabi, is opening in the capital. The attraction will break records for its artificial waves and will open on Hudayriyat Island at the end of 2023. Modon Properties is behind Surf Abu Dhabi, which covers a whopping 51 million square metres. Whether you’re starting or skilled, everyone is welcome to channel their inner Robert Kelly Slater (aka the world’s greatest surfer). Plus, the sight has been designed by Kelly Slater Wave Co, as he has lent his expertise to the project. What has got us the most excited about Surf Abu Dhabi is its FOMO-inducing features. The attraction will include the world’s biggest barrel, largest man-made wave pool and longest ride.

The Heart of Europe

The World Islands is an archipelago of artificial islands constructed in the shape of a world map. Located 4km off the coast of Dubai, The Heart Of Europe development is well underway with phase one of the megaproject including an Italian-themed five-star facility, the Portofino Hotel. Inspired by the holiday resorts in Portofino, the project features Italian architecture, a harbour, clear waters and stunning views of the sea and the Dubai skyline. Portofino will be the first five-star family-only hotel and resort in the region. The Heart of Europe will also feature the climate-controlled Rainy Street covering one kilometre, where it will rain on command! 

GO: Visit thoe.com for more information.

The Loop

The Loop will be a 93-kilometre, climate-controlled highway in Dubai. Say goodbye to traffic, and hello to a stress-free commute. The Loop aims to make Dubai a 20-minute city by 2040. Upon completion, it will connect 3 million residents to key services. This means that your daily needs, such as visiting a transit station, are a mere 20 minutes away by foot or bike. Dubai’s The Loop will also be home to hotels, parks, playgrounds, sports facilities and vertical farms. Visitors can check into wellness hotels, which will range from budget to luxury properties. Plus, the neighbourhoods will include allotments and parks, which bring communities together. The plan aims to create a smart platform, so that cycling and walking become a primary mode of transport.

GO: Visit https://urb.ae for more information.

Traditional Souk, Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi’s Traditional Souk aims to be just that – a traditional market place that you would have found in the UAE’s past. Overlooking the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, it will be a giant marketplace selling antiques, jewellery, spices and more. Plus, visitors can pick up items covering Emirati arts and crafts – pretty pearls, anyone? The area will also be home to restaurants, chalets and a hotel. 

GO: Visit www.alqudrasm.com for more information. 

Yas Creative Hub, Abu Dhabi

Yas, Yas Abu Dhabi. The capital is bringing it when it comes to megaprojects, as Yas Creative Hub will be a space for all the cool kids to hang out. This UAE megaproject is being developed by twofour54 and is the country’s first purpose-built development for media, entertainment and gaming. The hub aims to be a great spot for freelancers to work, and is in a location that is convenient for those who want to commute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Plus, it includes a shopping mall, beaches, theme park and – for when you need a post-entertainment crash – a new Hilton hotel. 

GO: Visit https://yas.twofour54.com/en/ for more information.  

Zayed National Museum, Abu Dhabi 

The Founding President of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, is being celebrated with his very own UAE megaproject: Zayed National Museum. Located on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, this museum will be a great starting point for those who want to learn about the history and ambitions of the UAE. The exhibitions will showcase how the country has transformed, and will commemorate the legacy of Sheikh Zayed. Foster + Partners is behind the sleek design, which is set to be a popular tourist attraction and one of the most ambitious UAE megaprojects.

GO: Visit https://abudhabiculture.ae/en/experience/museums/zayed-national-museum for more information.

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