With Mercury in retrograde until January 18, the start of the new year brought with it technology breakdowns, communication issues, plans gone awry, and all-round chaos. But it’s not all bleak – between hotel launches, new restaurant openings, the return of beloved festivals, and a handful of big names headed to Dubai, there’s plenty to look forward to in the months ahead. Welcome to 2023.
Another year, another slew of staycation spots to consider. Dubai is set to welcome several new hotel properties in the coming months, but none will be quite as decadent as Atlantis The Royal. Expected to debut in March, the resort will feature 90 swimming pools, 17 restaurants, a day-to-night entertainment venue from Tao Hospitality, the largest jellyfish aquarium in the world, and more. Also opening soon and taking up residence on Palm Jumeirah? NH Collection Dubai The Palm. Incidentally, this 533-room hotel marks the first property by Spanish luxury brand NH Collection in the UAE.
Elsewhere, FIVE Hotels will launch a third property – FIVE LUXE – bringing its signature party atmosphere to JBR, while Kempinski will unveil a luxe floating hotel aptly named Kempinski Floating Palace off Jumeirah Beach Road. And if you’re curious about that architecturally striking building in Business Bay, we can reveal that come September, it will be home to The Lana. Designed by Gilles et Boissier, its interiors will reflect both the waters of Marasi Marina and elements of Emirati culture. As for a more affordable option with personality to spare? The always-hip Mama Shelter is scheduled to open later this year, giving tech-savvy millennials a new social hotspot in Business Bay.
The sheer diversity of Dubai makes for a calendar packed with festivals catering to all manner of interests. With shopaholics catered to – the ongoing Dubai Shopping Festival will run until January 29 – the rest of you can mark your calendars, starting with Quoz Arts Fest from January 28 to 29. Themed ‘Shift Away’, the popular festival returns to Alserkal Avenue for two days of art, culture, markets, food trucks, workshops, and plenty of surprises. The upcoming tenth edition will be headlined by Syrian rapper Bu Kolthoum and Palestinian artist Saint Levant, both of whom will make their UAE debut.
The start of February will be all about celebrating storytelling as the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature returns its 15th edition, this year taking place at InterContinental Dubai Festival City and Mohammed Bin Rashid Library. On the roster? Comedian David Walliams, best-selling author Cecelia Ahern, Succession star Brian Cox, Indian politician Shashi Tharoor, and plenty more. Foodies, meanwhile, should make a beeline for Taste of Dubai. Taking over Dubai Media City Amphitheatre from February 3 to 5, this three-day event is popular for its bite-sized portions of beloved dishes from some of the city’s best restaurants alongside live music, appearances by some of the region’s best chefs, interactive masterclasses, and more.
High-brow entertainment comes courtesy of InClassica, a festival anchored in an engaging repertoire of classical music performed by talented musicians from around the world. Kicking off with a performance by the Çukurova State Symphony Orchestra, Massimiliano Caldi (conductor), and Fumiaki Miura (soloist), the event will be held from February 12 to March 10. The following month will immerse us right back into Dubai’s culinary scene as the Dubai Food Festival celebrates its 10th edition, which will take place April 28 to May 7. Expect offerings ranging from unique dining experiences and beach pop-ups to gastronomic set menus at affordable prices.
Heading off for the summer? You can look forward to the Dubai Home Festival upon your return. With incredible deals offered on furniture, homeware, and appliances across the city from October 13 to 27, an exciting home makeover awaits. A month later, you can dive into design through workshops, talks, and experimental mediums at the region’s largest creative festival, Dubai Design Week. Additionally, Downtown Design – the commercial centrepiece of this annual design festival – will be a certified zero carbon event.
Considering January alone entailed exclusive performances by Beyoncé and Tom Jones, we can assume the rest of the calendar will be packed with big names. Singer-songwriter Ashanti will be joined by Fat Joe and Ja Rule at Coca-Cola Arena on January 21, taking the stage to belt out R&B classics. The City Walk venue will also host Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer on both January 27 and 28, as well as Scottish musician Lewis Capaldi’s rescheduled concert on October 7.
Over at Dubai Opera, culture buffs can catch performances by legendary Egyptian pianist Omar Khairat on February 3, British electronica star Bonobo on March 11, and monk-turned-storyteller Jay Shetty on May 11. And if loud and cheery megamusicals are more your speed, you’ll want to book your spots for Shrek The Musical (February 22-26) and West Side Story (April 25-30) before tickets sell out.
Dubai’s dining scene evolves at a dizzying pace, now boasting a whopping 11 restaurants recognised by the Michelin Guide. Yet to meet the newcomers? Mott 32 (elevated Chinese cuisine), August (French-Mediterranean fare), and Sumosan (contemporary Japanese dishes) have just opened their doors, each debuting in January and adding something new to discover. As for what’s to come? Above Eleven will take over the rooftop of Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah, serving Peruvian bites and colourful cocktails. Nearby, acclaimed Spanish chef Dani García will launch a one-of-a-kind steakhouse by the name of Leña – his first venture in the city of Dubai. Bebek, meanwhile, will add a playful spin to Turkish food in Jumeirah.
Pairing Mediterranean cuisine with the effortless glamour of a bygone era on Pearl Jumeirah, Bungalo34 will be the first beachside dining concept from Tashas Group (of Avli and Flamingo Room fame). Another new eatery by an already beloved talent? Hoe Lee Kow, described as “unconventional Korean BBQ” by chef Reif Othman. And if a global name from the world of gastronomy is what you’re seeking, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at Atlantis The Royal is the one to beat. Incidentally, even Dubai’s new beach clubs will bear big names in 2023. Case in point: Nobu by the Beach, which will also take up residence at Atlantis The Royal. Other beachy spots set to debut in 2023? Ría (a new restaurant and beach bar at Club Vista Mare), Ayla (the latest addition to The Club at Palm West Beach), and Baoli (a swish import from the shores of Cannes).