2016 in review: The UAE’s biggest launches

New Year's Eve Dubai

There were plenty of reasons to be down on the events that took place during 2016, but for residents of the UAE, there was plenty to celebrate, too. In true UAE fashion, a number of massive launches were announced throughout the year, with world records broken throughout the year.

With that in mind, it’s time for a trip down memory lane, and then a look forward. In this two-part series, we’ll remember the best of what the UAE had to offer last year, as well as look ahead to the mega-announcements planned for 2017. Certainly, if you’re down in the dumps about 2016 and what 2017 may hold, these big launches should help to put a smile on your face.

Neflix UAE

January: Netflix goes global

January 2016 didn’t bring much in terms of home-grown mega-announcements, but there was one big launch that had everyone in the UAE excited – the launch of Netflix across the world. Up until this point, just a few developed markets had had access to the video streaming service, but suddenly it was made available in the UAE, and the selection wasn’t bad, either. Fast-forward to today and TV junkies across the country now can’t live without Netflix – certainly, it was a good announcement to kick 2016 off with.

Nikki Beach Dubai

February: Nikki Beach comes to Dubai

February brought more of what Dubai is best-known for – lots of luxury provided by a well-known global brand. In this case, this came in the form of Nikki Beach, the famous beach club that has made a name for itself as a go-to destination for high-rollers in Europe and the United States. In February, the Dubai branch of the beach club launched, and quickly became one of the most exclusive weekend destinations in the city.

Four Seasons DIFC

April: Four Seasons’ second outing

After a quiet March, April saw the launch of the hotly anticipated Four Seasons DIFC. It was the second Four Seasons to open in Dubai, coming hot on the heels of the successful launch of the Four Seasons Jumeirah Beach resort. Instead of being a picturesque seaside getaway, though, the Four Seasons DIFC is the ideal city escape, coming with wood-clad walls, faceted metal pendants and hand-tufted custom carpeting. What’s more, all rooms come with a customisable bed, a private bar and seating area.

Dubai Opera

August: Launch of Dubai Opera and IMG Worlds of Adventure

It wasn’t until August that we saw another major launch, but happily the end of the summer brought us two mega-announcements – the openings of Dubai Opera and IMG Worlds of Adventure. Dubai Opera, located in the heart of Downtown Dubai, is the centrepiece of the new Opera District, and is a big step forward for Dubai as a cultural hub. Already, it’s brought acclaimed shows to the emirate, and has a packed calendar sorted for the next year.

IMG Worlds of Adventure, meanwhile, offers a different kind of entertainment, being the world’s largest indoor theme park. The park offers four distinct zones, covering Marvel, Cartoon Network, Dinosaur Adventure, and the lifestyle-oriented IMG Boulevard. And if the queues are anything to go by, it would appear that tourists and residents alike have been drawn to the super-attraction like moths to a flame.

Dubai Water Canal

November: Walks to remember down Dubai Water Canal and the Palm Jumeirah Boardwalk

When Dubai Water Canal opened in November, we could scarcely believe how quick and painless the build-out of this mega-project had been. Now, with the canal filled with water, Dubai visitors and residents can stroll along its picturesque walkways. And things will only get better – when it’s completed, the 3-kilometre canal side will home 4,500 apartments, 44 townhouses, 19 villas, 37,000 square metres of retail, a sports centre and a public park.

If you want more of a sea breeze from your strolls, you may be interested in the fact that November also saw the launch of the Palm Jumeirah Boardwalk. Stretching 11 kilometres around the Palm Jumeirah, it’s accessible from 14 points along the existing sidewalk, and offers people on the Palm an easier and more pleasant way of getting around. What’s more, the boardwalk will eventually be home to dozens of kiosks offering light refreshments, meaning you can stay cool on your strolls.

Dubai Parks Resorts

December: Ending 2016 strong with Dubai Parks and Resorts and Dubai Festival City’s Light Show

December saw the launch of Dubai’s second major upcoming theme park – Dubai Parks and Resorts, which consists of three theme parks and one water park – Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, LegoLand Dubai and LegoLand Water Park. The destination also features Riverland Dubai – an entrance plaza that links the various parks and serves as a retail and dining area for visitors. When it opened, it marked the first time that three theme parks, a water park, a hotel and a retail dining area opened on the same day.

Meanwhile, Dubai Festival City rang in this year’s Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) with a tremendous multi-format show consisting of light, fire, water and projections. The show features the world’s largest water-projection surface, and was three years in the making as part of an AED 1.5 billion redevelopment of Dubai Festival City. And if you missed the light show on DSF’s opening night, not to worry – it’ll be a permanent fixture at the Festival City.

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