UAE megaprojects 2023: 26 new developments in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates
05 January 2023, The National News
The skyline across the UAE is forever evolving, with new communities, new towers and even new islands coming to fruition.
The changes in the past decade have been extraordinary and have made the UAE into one of the most advanced and futuristic nations in the world.
Last year, a host of projects were completed and that is set to be the case again in 2023.
See the slideshow above and list below for the megaprojects in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and elsewhere that are on the way.
Completion dates may be subject to change.
Burj Binghatti, Dubai
There have been a few candidates for “world’s tallest tower” since Burj Khalifa took the crown way back in 2010, and here’s one aiming for the slightly different title of “world’s tallest residential tower”.
Burj Binghatti will have “more than 112 storeys” and will offer residents the chance to “live amidst the clouds”, developer Binghatti said.
Located in Business Bay, it is being developed in co-ordination with Jacob & Co, a New York-headquartered watch and jewellery company.
To become the world’s highest residential tower, Burj Binghatti has to exceed the 472-metre height of the current record-holder, New York’s Central Park Tower.
Palm Jebel Ali
In terms of size, it doesn’t get much bigger than this.
Palm Jebel Ali, the man-made island off the Dubai coast that has sat dormant for a number of years, could be about to see some development action.
Developer Nakheel said late last year that it is revisiting its plans for the island. Watch this space.
Agri Hub by URB
Dubai’s tourism attractions come in all shapes and sizes, but this one is a little bit different.
Agri Hub will, according to its developer URB, become the biggest of its kind in the world and create 10,000 jobs.
It will provide food security, entertainment and adventure. A few locations are being studied for feasibility, with the exact location yet to be confirmed.
Dubai Urban Tech District
Another from developer URB, this urban technology district will be located on the Creekside of Al Jaddaf district in Dubai.
“The Urban Tech District will be a new global tech hub for urban innovation,” said Baharash Bagherian, chief executive of URB. “With a total of 140,000 square metres of built-up area, it will be the world’s largest urban tech district, thus making Dubai the centre for urban innovation.”
The district will be able to host conferences, seminars, business incubation programmes, training and research sessions, and is set to create 4,000 jobs.
A regular inclusion in this annual list, the rail project has made great strides in the past 12 months, with construction gaining pace.
Once complete, the rail network will connect the UAE with the rest of the Gulf. Stage one of the project is operational and is used to transport goods and materials across the Emirates.
The project as of December was 70 per cent complete, with the railway line between Abu Dhabi and Dubai joined up in March and connected to Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah in October.
A launch date for the UAE passenger line and the exact route for this service have not yet been announced but plans to build the first passenger station in Fujairah have been unveiled.
There’s no shortage of records broken in Dubai, and this tower holds one for the world’s longest cantilevered building that connects the two towers.
It was announced in December that the project was taking its final shape, with full cladding completed and an opening date later in 2023 expected.
The project, standing 304 metres high, is located beside Dubai’s Trade Centre, and will be a mixed-use development.
Formerly known as Deira Islands, developer Nakheel rebranded the project as Dubai Islands.
The development, comprising five islands spread over an area of 17 square kilometres, reinforces the emirate’s position as a “global destination of choice for residents, visitors and investors”, Nakheel said.
Each island will have its own unique offerings, with cultural centres, recreational beaches and beach clubs.
The islands will be home to more than 80 resorts and hotels.
The World Islands
Activity on the megaproject off the Dubai coast has been ramping up, with the Anantara World Islands Dubai Resort the first hotel to open there in November.
Kleindienst Group’s Heart of Europe project is also close to opening, while Dubai-based developer and contractor Inspire Home Contracting has revealed plans to develop the Oman island.
Once all phases of the Heart of Europe — a six-island cluster in the middle of Dubai’s The World islands — have been completed, it will be home to 4,000 units.
Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park
The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) is building the world’s largest solar energy park, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, in an effort to reduce reliance on natural gas and diversify its power sources.
The fourth phase will provide clean energy for about 320,000 houses and cut 1.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions yearly.
The sixth phase of the park will become operational in stages, starting from Q3 2025.
Uptown Tower district
The new Uptown Tower development in Dubai’s Jumeirah Lakes Towers is a highly visible feature of the skyline as you enter the city on the E11 from Abu Dhabi.
Not only has the 340-metre tower been fully leased, according to Dubai Multi Commodities Centre — the free zone behind the project — work on the next two commercial towers in the project is set to commence “soon”, it said in the latter part of 2022.
Uptown Tower is the 14th tallest structure in Dubai.
Dubai already has the record for the world’s tallest hotel, with the 356-metre-high Gevora Hotel.
So, where better to break that record than in Dubai?
The First Group’s Ciel Tower in Dubai Marina is set to stand 365 metres tall. The most recent scheduled completion date is the fourth quarter of this year.
It will have more than 1,000 guestrooms and suites, as well as premium amenities, such as the Ciel Observatory & Lounge on the 81st floor and a signature rooftop Sky Terrace with an infinity pool and bar.
Atlantis the Royal
This ultra-luxury waterfront hotel and residence on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah is set to have music megastar Beyonce perform at its opening on January 21.
Spanning 63 hectares and housing 795 rooms and suites, countless hospitality venues and no less than 90 swimming pools, the resort’s opening has been anticipated for some time.
The hotel has begun taking reservations for March, with rooms in the opening month starting at Dh4,066 for the first two weeks.
The first phase of Imkan’s “Riviera” project on the coast between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is scheduled to be completed this year.
The master plan, stretching 1.6km along the Arabian Gulf coast, seeks to conserve the existing 100,000 trees, sea turtles and other wildlife at the Ghantoot reserve, creating a coastal “retreat” for UAE city dwellers.
A second phase has also been launched.
Jubail Island, Abu Dhabi
The Dh10 billion development by Jubail Island Investment Company is very much under way, with villas springing up on the plot between Saadiyat Island and Yas Island.
It will have six residential village estates covering more than 400 hectares and is expected to be home to 10,000 residents within four years.
The first villas will be ready for handover by September 2023.
Developers have already planted a total of 430,000 mangrove trees as part of efforts to conserve the ecological reserve.
Natural History Museum
Construction is under way on Saadiyat Island and was 25 per cent completed in October.
The project will cover 35,000 square metres and will aim to bring visitors on a 14-billion-year journey through time and space, from the origins of our universe to the Earth’s future.
Tourism chiefs said the museum is due to be completed at the end of 2025.
Zayed National Museum
Its soaring cluster of towers which evoke the wings of a falcon can be seen from afar and show the level of progress at the site on Saadiyat Island.
Designed by acclaimed UK architects Foster + Partners, the museum will narrate the story of UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and highlight the history of the region and its cultural connections to countries around the world.
Two galleries on the ground floor will represent the heart of the museum.
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi
Another project located in the Saadiyat Cultural District, this one is set to open in 2025.
The museum will cover 30,000 square metres, with its gallery spaces spread across four levels linked by glass bridges and a central atrium at its core.
The building, which will stand 88 metres tall, will feature nine cone-shaped structures, which will be a space for both commissions and acquisitions.
It was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, who is also behind the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.
Abrahamic Family House
Currently being built on Saadiyat Island, it aims to represent and preserve the three Abrahamic religions — Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
The houses of worship are designed as three clear geometric cubes that sit on a plinth, connected by pathways and gardens. The structures share equal external dimensions — height, width and a unifying roof — emphasising through design that no faith is more dominant than the other.
It is due to be completed this year.
Louvre Abu Dhabi Residences
A number of residential projects on Saadiyat Island were announced in 2022, with Louvre Abu Dhabi Residences among them.
“With Louvre Abu Dhabi Residences, now there is an opportunity to reside at the most inspiring cultural address in the world,” said Manuel Rabate, director of Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The development, by Aldar, has an expected handover date of 2025. It will have art and sculptures chosen that resemble those exhibited by the museum.
Also in the area is Saadiyat Grove, a Dh10 billion ($2.72 billion) destination that spans an area of 242,000 square metres and will eventually feature entertainment and leisure spaces as well as 3,000 new residential units, two hotels and co-working spaces for new companies and start-ups.
It will have a 360-degree view of three museums on the island.
The island close to the city centre has undergone a steady transformation over the past decade.
Its residential towers have been joined by an impressive public park and beaches as well as the soon-to-open Reem Mall, which will be home to the region’s biggest snow park.
Elsewhere on the island, the gated Reem Hills villa community, complete with a man-made hill, is on the way.
The first phase of the project, Sierra Views, is due for completion in December 2024.
The new Dh10.8 billion ($2.94 billion) Midfield Terminal Building (MTB) at Abu Dhabi International Airport is taking shape.
“We will open it when we think it is the right time to open it and I must stress that — it is not necessarily about when it will be ready for opening,” said Frank McCrorie, chief operations officer at Abu Dhabi Airports.
“The biggest factor for us is reputation. Everybody has been waiting for this facility to open, so we want to make sure that we do so in a timely manner and in the correct fashion.”
The operator will announce the opening date once the building is ready and when the conditions are right, he said in August.
SeaWorld Abu Dhabi
The first SeaWorld location outside of North America is set to open in 2023 on Yas Island.
Built over five floors and spanning about 183,000 square metres, it will include habitats, rides, interactive exhibits and immersive guest experiences.
The marine-life theme park complex will also include the UAE’s first dedicated marine research, rescue, rehabilitation and return centre, supporting regional conservation projects and with a focus on indigenous ecosystems in the Arabian Gulf.
Abu Dhabi Hindu temple
The capital’s Abu Mureikha district is home to the pink sandstone temple which is gradually rising and will retell ancient stories from Indian scriptures.
With seven spires to represent each of the UAE’s emirates, the place of worship will be 32 metres tall when it opens in 2024.
One hundred and seventy artisans and bricklayers will use more than 30,000 pieces of stone and millions of handmade clay bricks in the construction.
Sharjah forest district
Sharjah and forest aren’t two words you may expect to sit together — or to describe any of the emirates, for that matter, given the desert landscape.
However, UAE developer Arada has been launching the new phases of its Masaar residential project, which has eight gated districts, 4,000 homes and features a “green spine” with 50,000 trees.
Construction at Masaar’s first residential district Sendian is under way and is expected to be completed by the end of June 2023.
Falcon Island, Ras Al Khaimah
The residential development, which, like its name suggests, sits on a falcon-shaped island at Al Hamra, has had two phases launched so far.
Construction at Al Hamra began in the second quarter of 2022.
Al Hamra also said the project had committed an allocation of up to 70 per cent of the island to open spaces.
There’s a lot going on at Hatta up in the Hajar Mountains.
Firstly, there’s the construction of a hydroelectric power plant, which Dewa said in December was 58.48 per cent complete.
It will be the first of its kind in the GCC, built with an investment of Dh1.42 billion ($387 million). The project is planned for completion in the fourth quarter of 2024.
Then there’s the Dh46 million waterfall attraction, which is part of a tourism drive.
The area will include recreational spaces and restaurants and construction is under way.