We’re living in mega times…
In the past few years we’ve seen some huge new leisure projects launch in Abu Dhabi, we’re looking at the WB hotel; The Yas Bay Waterfront; The National Aquarium and other alluring attractions within Al Qana; Mamsha Al Saadiyat has proliferated into a thrilling little foodie district; and The Al Wathba Fossil Dune Protected Area headlines our pick of the thoroughly engaging heritage projects.
But there is a huge amount still to come in the coming months and years. Here’s just a little taste of what’s in the Abu Dhabi engineering wizardry pipeline.
Nobu Hotel and Beach Club
The iconic Nobu brand is coming to Abu Dhabi. But residents of the UAE capital can look forward to a little more than fine Japanese fare. As alongside a Nobu restaurant, a beach club, luxurious hotel and chic branded residences will all open in Abu Dhabi in 2026. The Nobu Hospitality concepts will open in collaboration with Aldar properties on the scenic Mamsha beach on Saadiyat island, forming part of the cultural and culinary hub of Saadiyat Grove. Inside the breathtaking beachfront hotel, guests will be able to check-in to one of 165 upscale and modern guest rooms and suites, with a VIP experience awaiting guests staying in the rooftop Nobu Villa. In the hotel, guests will be able to dine on chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s acclaimed Japanese dishes at Abu Dhabi’s first Nobu restaurant, plus three more restaurants and bars, and get pampered at a next-level wellness centre and an array of swimming pools. Guests will also be able to enjoy a luxurious daytime clubbing experience at Abu Dhabi’s Nobu Beach Club. It will become the UAE’s second Nobu beach club after Nobu by the Beach, which will open in early 2023 in Dubai’s Atlantis The Royal.
The Eastern face of Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island will be transformed into a verdant urban oasis — with hills, beaches, parks and even a canal — under plans from locally-based developer Q Properties. The villa mega-project, being carved right into the heart of the capital, is primarily an upscale gated residential endeavor, but there will be plenty of leisure attractions to it too. Teased in the development brochure are mosques, community spaces, nurseries, club houses, shops, restaurants and cafes, jogging and cycling tracks, parks and playgrounds, beaches and pools. Rather fittingly, one of the central features of the development is that it will be cast over engineered hills, the highest of which will offer spectacular 360 degree views of the surrounding area.
Jubail Island Project
Nestled between Yas and Saadiyat, Jubail Island is already one of Abu Dhabi’s most idyllic islands, thanks to its lush, stretching mangroves. And now, Lead Development, is taking the *ahem* lead on shaping the future of Jubail, as part of the island’s Dhs10 billion redevelopment project. Their aim is to plant low-impact, luxurious yet sustainable living into the stunning natural beauty that surrounds the development so that the two worlds can live, and thrive, in harmony. Lead’s latest announcement for the future of Jubail, is The Souk. Once finished it will provide low-rise, low-density, luxurious residential properties and serve as a futuristic eco-friendly community hub for the six upcoming villages of the island complete with a dazzling collection of attractions. Visitors will be able to explore parks, swimming pools, sports facilities, play areas and restaurants; it will operate a mosque, include a nursery, a specialised clinic, a gym, supermarket; you’ll be able to meander through chic boutiques, compare menus at food and beverage pavilions, and set up shop in the designated commercial office space. The six villages of the Jubail project are: Souk Al Jubail will obviously house The Souk. There’s Marfaa Al Jubail — AKA The Marina, a waterfront strip with berths for bobbing yachts. Seef Al Jubail or ‘The Club’ filled with spas, wellness centres, beach clubs and luxury hotels. You’ll find schools and educational institutions in Nad Al Dhabi. And we know the other two communities are called Ain Al Maha and Bed’a Al Jubail, but we’ll have to wait to discover what treasures they hold.
Abrahamic Family House
Situated on Saadiyat Island, the Abrahamic Family House is a mega project with an incredibly inspiring message. Inspired by the Document on Human Fraternity, supervised by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, and ‘followed closely by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam’ — the Abrahamic Family House will comprise a mosque, a church, and a synagogue within the same space. The building was designed by architect Sir David Adjaye, to capture ‘the values shared between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam’. The endeavour was first announced back in 2019, by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, but this latest update has given us the names of the worship centres. Within Abrahamic Family House you will find Imam Al-Tayeb Mosque, St. Francis Church, and Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue. The aim is that this project will symbolise and inspire tolerance, togetherness, fraternity, mutual respect and peaceful coexistence.
LXR Hotels & Resorts
For those with a heart that beats to the call of wanderlust, there’s something particularly romantic about the idea of rail travel, especially when it passes through the sort of big geography you find in the UAE. That feeling of crossing frontiers, powering towards the horizon with otherworldly plains flooding past the window. And it could be something we get to experience here sooner than you think, following a new update issued by the UAE Rail Programme. Yes, according to the latest projections, the UAE’s very own ‘Sanpiercer’ (not the official name) passenger service will link 11 cities across the seven emirates by the year 2030. From the beautiful renders above supplied by Etihad Rail, we can see that the sleek cone-nosed train cuts a very similar image to those of the other high speed networks across the world. It looks like there will be at least two classes of cabin to choo-choose from, spacious bathrooms, comfortable seats, and a kitchen area. There is literally no information in support of whether there are private suites aboard, but we dare to dream. In lieu of getting the low down from train wisdom GOAT, Francis Bourgois — we reached out directly to Etihad Rail for some more stats and facts about the train. Expect those to arrive on the What’s On platform imminently.
We now know that Saadiyat Grove will play a large part in the look and layout of Saadiyat Island island, a blended leisure, commercial and residential project that looks to be linking (or close enough) the individual culture mega projects and the beachfront entertainment district of Mamsha Al Saadiyat. The important numbers we have so far are that the launch date is set for some time in 2023. There’ll be a ‘Town Square’, more than 70 retail stores, a gym, cinema, offices, and 50,000 sqm of dining space. Aldar’s website describes some of the aesthetic experiences you can expect, saying “interactive artworks and digital murals surround you”. Louvre Abu Dhabi residences will also be part of the project. Once complete, there’ll be a residential complex of 400 apartments, with an iconic address, stunning ocean views and next-door-neighbour-status to one of the world’s most impressive collections of art and historical artefacts.
Natural History Museum
One of the biggest bits of cultural news so far this year, is the DCT’s confirmation that Abu Dhabi is getting a Natural History Museum. This will be the fourth museum of the Saadiyat Cultural District (after Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum, and the Guggenheim), and is due to open its doors on Saadiyat Island in 2025. In addition to engaging exhibits curated to illuminate the universe’s 13.8 billion years of origin story, the site will also include a scientific research centre ‘that will undertake studies in zoology, palaeontology, marine biology, molecular research and earth sciences’. The project was announced by Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed, and promises to ‘help find solutions for the future of our planet.’ We also have context confirmation on two of the flagship objets d’awe — Stan, a 67 million year old tyrannosaurus rex skeleton; and the seven billion year-old Murchison Meteorite (both of these specimens will be available to see at a special Manarat Al Saadiyat preview exhibition between April 6 and May 12 this year).
Mina Zayed redevelopment
Mina Zayed, named after the UAE’s founding father, is a 40-year-old port-side community that was instrumental in Abu Dhabi’s meteoric growth as a trading hub. The three million square metre glow-up project aims to create a blended housing, tourism and entertainment destination, in addition to building on the reputation of the area as a colourful commerce hub. When the project is completed, visitors will be able to enjoy enhanced shopping experiences, such as a brand new fish market, seasonal market and redeveloped plant souq. The redevelopment includes the involvement of both Modon Properties and Aldar Properties, which means the concept and execution of the new set-up is in the very best hands.
Yas Creative Hub
Located just a brief amble away from the foodie district of Yas Bay, this twofour54 project is poised to house a thriving community of creative endeavor. Inside you’ll find a walkable campus, sustainable intelligently-conceived landscape design, innovation incubation spaces, an amphitheatre, studios, and production facilities. Once finished, this world-class, future-proof ingenuity hub will be armed with a team of more than 900 freelancers, a smart ecosystem that prioritises data, tech and resource efficiency, and sits in a location that offers uber convenient commute times to both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi-based developers Al Qudra have unveiled plans to transform a 245,000 sqm stretch of Abu Dhabi’s W64 Zone overlooking the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, next door to the upcoming Al Qana project on the Khor Al Maqtaa, into a sophisticated blanched-wall leisure and entertainment complex. And looking at these Traditional Souk renders, the scale and quality of concept are giving us legitimate cause for awe. From the patchwork-shaded alleyways of the UAE heritage-style marketplace to the leafy open courtyards, waterfront hotel and vibrant new restaurant district — it’s a project that’s somehow both in synergy with the neighbourhood it joins, and yet something truly different.
Louvre Abu Dhabi Residences
Louvre Abu Dhabi represents the cultural epicentre of the emirate, but after a truly astounding piece of news announced by local master developers, Aldar — it might soon represent the epicentre of your living room too. Once complete, the Louvre Abu Dhabi Residences by Aldar will be a residential complex of 400 apartments, with an iconic address, stunning ocean views and next-door-neighbour-status to one of the world’s most impressive collections of art and historical artefacts. Included within the structure will be Le Salon Détente — a lounge for residents that will feature art curated in consultation with the experts at Louvre Abu Dhabi; a 12-seater Cinema Privé for private theatre experience; a wellness centre – Spa Bien-être which will of course feature a gym, sauna rooms, spaces for yoga and meditation; and there will also be an indoor kids’ playroom, called, appropriately, the Creativité Room. It’s all part of Saadiyat Grove, a 242,000 square metre, Dhs10 billion development which will also include retail and entertainment attractions, other residential properties, two news hotels and co-working spaces.
Zayed National Museum
Once completed, the Zayed National Museum will stand as an architectural marvel, a fitting home for the inspiring story of our great nation and its visionary founder, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918–2004). Located on Saadiyat Island, the seat of so much cultural import, the breathtaking structure designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Lord Norman Foster, of Foster + Partners. The Zayed National Museum was conceived to exist as a blended-use space, a public and civic building — a hub for discussion and learning, celebrating the rich and tapestried heritage story of the UAE, and its connection to the wider world. Expect engaging exhibits tracing the UAE’s journey to becoming a nation of influence, from ecosystems forged over millions of years to the region’s first human settlers arriving around 200,000 years ago, and then on to the modern era — where trade, development and prosperity have paved the way to a uniquely bright future.
Al Reem Mall
Reem Mall has described itself as ‘The World’s First Omnichannel Mall’. The details of what that actually means get complicated quickly, but from what we understand, the mall will offer a ‘blended retail’ approach, which allows for digital shopping (through an app/website) at the same time as conventional ‘bricks and mortar’ mall shopping. Data from your shopping habits can be used to make sure you get invited to redeem tailored promotions. Milat Sayra Berirmen, Digital Innovation Director for Reem Mall is on record as saying “At Reem Mall, we are leading this transformation by creating a totally new retail concept – the world’s first fully digitally enabled mall, supported by an integrated logistics hub.”
Snow Abu Dhabi
The enchanted-forest themed Snow Abu Dhabi was previously scheduled for completion in the last part of this year, and it’s being trailed as ‘the region’s largest snow park’. Construction is well underway at its location inside the USD1.2billon Reem Mall project, on Reem Island. The attraction will span across a huge 100,000 sq ft area, divided into distinct whimsical zones. We can look forward to themed-characters and 13 thrilling rides and attractions, including an enchanted tree, a snowflake garden, crystal carousel, ice labyrinth, tobogganing and a shovel-ton more. It doesn’t matter if the weather outside is frightful. The park will be kept at a rosy-nosed -2ºC, with a 500mm covering of snow (more than enough for beefy snowball building) offering a year-round chill spot in this, our beloved land of the eternal sun.
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi
On track for completion in 2025, the Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim Museum will add a jagged smear of swoon to the Saadiyat Cultural District skyline. True to the spirit of Guggenheim (and conceived in collaboration with Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation), the plans for the building — cut a contemporary, unconventional, but singularly beautiful design. As outside, so within. Inside you’ll find 28 galleries across a 11,600 sqm expanse, there’s also an additional 23,000 sqm of exhibition spaces contained within the distinctive cones and terraces attached to the building. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will exhibit a collection of modern and contemporary art with a special focus on pieces from the West Asia, North Africa, and South Asia (WANASA) region. The museum has been tasked with providing a platform for artists from the WANASA area, commissioning works from artists at the spear’s tip of creative innovation, and illuminating how “the interconnected histories and cultures” have helped shape our world. Speaking about the project, H.E. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi said: “The museum will also play a civic role through its mission to spark wider interest in global modern and contemporary art, fostering diversity and inclusion in a meaningful cultural exchange. As we move forward with our plans, it is crucial to recognise the impact of this museum in realising our vision for the Emirate’s culture and creative industries.”
Article originally published on whatson.ae