From comics to concerts and food to festivals, here are the biggest events taking place in the UAE in 2023.
Hello, 2023. The year ahead looks set to be a showstopper, as there are hot hotels, spectacular sports and major megaprojects. So, whether you’re living (or visiting) Abu Dhabi, Dubai or beyond, there is something exciting on the horizon.
In true UAE-style, the year aims to be a record breaker. We’re talking the world’s largest snow park at Snow Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest aquarium at SeaWorld Abu Dhabi and the world’s largest jellyfish tank at Atlantis, The Royal.
Here’s looking at you, 2023.
Abrahamic Family House
Abrahamic Family House is a one-of-a-kind religious space including a church, mosque and synagogue. The new Saadiyat Island venue will serve as a place for interfaith dialogue, as it offers visitors religious experiences, from listening to scriptures to experiencing spiritual rituals. Plus, there will be an educational centre, which is not associated with any religion.
The world’s tallest observation wheel, Ain Dubai, will be back in action. So far, we know that it will spin once more in the first quarter of 2023. The 48 indoor, air-conditioned cabins can carry up to 1,400 passengers. One rotation lasts approximately 38 minutes, and two rotations last approximately 76 minutes. At twice the height of the London Eye, Ain Dubai was constructed from 11,200 tonnes of steel (that’s 33 per cent more than the Eiffel Tower). Each leg stands at a whopping 126 meters, and each cabin is larger than two double-decker buses.
Atlantis, The Royal
In 2022, we got images of what it looks like inside Atlantis, The Royal. In 2023, we can finally check into the new hotel. The luxurious venue includes 795 rooms, 102 suites, celebrity chefs, a state-of-the-art spa and a private beach stretching two kilometres. Like all swanky Dubai projects, it will be home to the world’s largest jellyfish tank (4,000, to be precise) and Skyblaze Fountain (a fire-meets-water show). Rumour has it that one of the world’s biggest power couples will be opening the hotel.
See in the new year with a smile on your face. In 2023, British comedians Jimmy Carr, Kevin Bridges and Kevin Hart are performing at the Etihad Arena. Comics Joanne McNally and Russell Kane are headlining at the QE2. Plus, we’re expecting more big names to come to the country throughout the year. Go on, have a laugh.
Côte d’Azur’s Raining Street
We all know that the weather goes from hot to hotter, so if you want to cool down, here’s where you can head: Côte d’Azur. The new hotel is located on The Heart of Europe’s island and includes a Raining Street. As the name suggests, this is an actual street that rains in Dubai. Spanning one-kilometre-long, it is a climate-controlled area that will rain on demand.
Put your hands in the air if you love live music. Whatever your taste in music, we’re sure you’ll find a concert that’s for you in the UAE. In 2023, performers already scheduled include American rockers Imagine Dragon, former Police frontman Sting and K pop supergroup Blackpink, Chinese artist Jackson Wang and Irish rock band The Script.
Rumour has it that season two of Dubai Bling is in the works, as the cast have been spotted filming around town. If that’s the case, you can expect more fashion, fun and fights. If you can’t wait for the next season, check out our interviews with the stars including Ebraheem al Sadadi, Farhana Bodi, Safa Siddiqui and Zeina Khoury, and can confirm that they are just as bling in real life. If you want to follow in their designer footsteps, here’s our guide to where the series was filmed.
Dubai Mall’s Chinatown
There are Chinatowns across the world from San Francisco to London, which are typically home to a Chinese diaspora. The areas serve as a hub for homes, shops and residents. Dubai’s version of Chinatown, however, will be a little different. In true Dubai fashion, it is located in the world’s largest shopping centre, The Dubai Mall, and aims to be the largest Chinatown in the region.
Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority has announced that self-driving taxis will be on the roads before the end of 2023. Say goodbye to small talk with your driver and hello to the driverless car, which will whizz you across town. The sensors will keep you safe, and are expected to be sharper than the human eye. Will you hop on board?
On your marks, get set, run. The Dubai Marathon has announced that it is taking place on 12 February 2023. Stretching 42.195-kilometres, it is the region’s oldest marathon. If you want to channel your inner Mo Farah, but can’t go the distance, don’t worry. You can also join a 4-kilometre or 10-kilometre race.
Dubai World Cup
Dubai Racing Club’s 2022-23 season is currently underway at Meydan Racecourse. The races culminate with the Dubai World Cup on 25 March 2023. Attracting trainers and jockeys from all over the world, there are plenty of opportunities to watch the horses in action, as there will be 21 competitive horse races. Plus, there is a new race, The Arabian Spirit Championship.
Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
Bookworms, this one’s for you. Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the biggest celebration of stories in the Arab region, returns from 1 to 6 February 2023. Now in its 15th year, the festival welcomes celebrities, authors and experts in their field. The stellar line-up includes Succession star Brian Cox, Indian politician Shashi Tharoor, and religious commentator Reza Aslan. Plus, best-selling authors Cecelia Ahern and Mohsin Hamid.
Formula 1 Abu Dhabi 2023
Formula 1 Abu Dhabi is an annual sports event, which brings thrilling races to the capital. The championship races into town from 24 to 26 November. The races take place across 5.281 kilometre and 58 laps in Yas Marina. Catch the world’s biggest drivers, from Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen, and lookout for A-list acts at the F1 Yasalam After-Race concerts.
Hotels come and come in the UAE and 2023 is no different. We’re excited about SIRO One Zabeel’s lifestyle and fitness hotel, and The Dorchester’s new The Lana in Business Bay. Plus, other new hotel openings include Anantara RAK, FIVE LUXE JBR, Jumeirah Marsa Al Arab, Kempinski Floating Palace, Mama Shelter, and So/UpTown.
He has more than 12 million followers on Instagram, is a New York Times bestselling author and has the kind of wisdom that is only reserved for monks – which makes sense, as he was once an actual monk. We’re talking about none other than Jay Shetty. The advice from his most recent book, 8 Rules of Love, is currently trending. So, catch Jay Shetty Live at Dubai Opera on 11 May, as it looks set to be a hot ticket.
Kalba Waterfront Project
Sharjah has a new megaproject: Kalba Waterfront Project. Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) is behind the AED 199 million project, which is scheduled to open in Sharjah’s Eastern Region. Kalba Waterfront Project will be the largest retail and the first inclusive waterfront destination in Kalba. Spanning 183,000 square meters, it will include shopping, entertainment and tourist experiences.
Hold onto your glow sticks, there are world-class music festival making their Middle Eastern debut in the UAE. Brits will be familiar with Wireless Festival, which started life in Hyde Park back in 2005. Now, it is coming to Abu Dhabi on 11 March. So far, we know that there will be 13 live performances across multiple stages. EDM lovers will be excited to hear that Ultra Abu Dhabi is coming to Etihad Park, Yas Island. The festival takes place from 4 to 5 March 2023, and will bring together an exciting line-up of DJs, plus hip-hop, rap, R&B, grime and dance. Plus, Elrow XXL Festival line-up includes Idris Elba, Sonny Fodera, Armand Van Helden and Wade. Taking place on 18 February in Dubai Design District (D3), it’s set to be spectacular.
New flight routes
If your new year’s resolutions include more travel, then you’re in luck. New flight routes have been announced from the UAE, and they include some adventurous destinations. Take Air Arabia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Etihad to Kolkata, India; flydubai to Cagliari, Sardinia; flydubai to Corfu, Greece; flydubai to Krabi and Pattaya, Thailand; flydubai to Milan, Italy; and Wizz Air to Ankara, Turkey.
Reem Mall will be packed with 12 rides and 17 attractions, which will make this a popular destination for families. You’ll be able to make a day of it, as there’ll be 85 restaurants and 450 shops. What we’re particularly excited about is Snow Abu Dhabi – the world’s largest snow park.
Restaurant openings in Abu Dhabi
The UAE capital is welcoming some brand-new restaurants. Abu Dhabi will soon be home to BB Social, Flamingo Room by tashas and José by Pizzaro. If the Dubai outlets of these brands are anything to go by, then you can expect great things. BB Social has brilliant baos and buns, Flamingo Room boasts spectacular seafood, and Joe by Pizzaro serves top-notch pizzas.
Restaurant openings in Dubai
Dubai’s restaurant scene is dazzling. In 2022, it nabbed 11 MICHELIN Stars, and we are expecting more in the future. The new restaurants in the city include Babylon, Hawkerboi Restaurant, MOTT 32, Nobu by the Beach, Studio Frantzen, Signor Sassi, and SumoSan Dubai.
SeaWorld Abu Dhabi
SeaWorld Abu Dhabi plans to break world records and be home to the world’s largest aquarium. The aquarium will house 25 million litres of water and more than 68,000 marine animals, which range from sharks to sea turtles. Plus, it is set to include Yas SeaWorld Research and Rescue Center – the country’s first dedicated marine research, rescue and rehabilitation centre.
Taste of Dubai
We don’t blame you if you feel like there are so many restaurants, but so little time. Taste of Dubai may just be the answer, as it showcases the region’s best chefs and restaurants. Taking place from 3 to 5 February 2023, it includes cooking classes, live entertainment and a whole lot of food.