What’s New in Abu Dhabi | 2021

There’s something for everyone.” Visit Abu Dhabi

So many exciting things are coming to Abu Dhabi. Huge investment and development will see the capital come alive with new dining, leisure and retail projects. Here’s a round-up of what to look out for in the coming months.

Mamsha Al Saadiyat – In the heart of the Saadiyat Cultural District is Mamsha Al Saadiyat, the upmarket development that’s evolving into Abu Dhabi’s prominent beachfront dining and leisure destination and it’s only going to get better. It’s my favourite place in the capital (except in summer) with its pristine beach, ocean views and choice of restaurants and cafes, sundowners here are worth the drive and parking fees.

Soul Beach, LOCAL barbershop, Tara Rose ladies hair salon and the soon-to-be opened CRYO facility are all accessed via the ocean promenade that’s also home to a diverse mix of casual and licenced dining venues. Beirut Sur Mer is a top choice for delicious Lebanse cuisine and you can’t beat the specialty coffee and lifestyle retail options at LOCAL

Other outlets already open include Alkalime, The Steak Room, Niri Restaurant & Bar, Coffee Architecture, Ten 11 Beach and Ethr. Coming soon is licenced American burger joint Black Tap, Raclette Brasserie and Cafe (from the guys behind Beirut Sur Mer), Antonia Pizza Al Taglio, Caribbean vibes at Ting Irie Pon Di Beach, Wake n’ Bake donuts and Society. Rumours are that Eat Pickl is due to join the party too. Click HERE for more information.

Sheikha Fatima Park – The area formerly known as Khalidiya Ladies Park has undergone an extensive refresh and emerged as the new Sheikha Fatima Park. The shiny new outdoor space is divided into three zones; Discovery, Adventure and Experience with a mix of urban spaces, activities, retail opportunities and dining venues. There’s a skate park, kids splash pad, dog-friendly area, outdoor fitness aparthaus and even stage areas for future performances. The park will also be home to Crank, the indoor cycling studio that’s incredibly popular in Dubai.

Once everything is open there will be a mix of dining outlets with cafes and restaurants offering cuisines from around the globe. Amongst those already open is Dialogue, a modern cafe that offers speciality coffee, an international menu at Sola and Seven Dawgs, a gourmet halal hotdog restaurant. Not much has been publicised about the concept stores except that one of them is a cycling store called Momentum. Read more www.sheikhafatimapark.com

Yas Bay – Miral’s latest development to open on Yas Island is still in its final stages of construction but get excited as good things are coming to Yas Bay. The area will have three distinct zones; Yas Creative Hub (the new home of twofour54), Residences at Yas Bay and The Waterfront. I’m eager to see the completion of Pier 71 that’s set to become Abu Dhabi’s leading dining and nightlife destination offering a variety of concepts and cuisines.

Opening soon for our dining pleasure will be La Carnita (Mexican), favourites from Dubai Design District’s (D3) Akiba Dori (Japanese & pizzeria) and The Lighthouse (Mediternean restaurant and concept store). Fire-inspired Australian steakhouse Hunter & Barrel will make its debut in the capital as will Paradiso from Cannes (from Nicole Rubi, founder of LPM). Dubai’s Solutions Leisure will be opening Asia Asia, Lock, Stock & Barrel and The Central (family entertainment complex). Other venues include Bushra (Middle Eastern), Zeera (Indian) and Siddartha Lounge by Buddha Bar.

Yas Bay is already home to the Etihad Arena that has events scheduled for later this year now restrictions are being lifted – click HERE for more details. The Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island opened in March offering some food and beverage options as well as a spa and large pool area but there’s still no sign of its innovative floating beach. There’s also a 3km waterfront boardwalk with landscaped areas, parks and seating areas. Read more about Yas Bay by visiting www.yasbay.ae

Further afield on Yas Island, the world’s first Warner Bros. hotel by Hilton is deep in the construction phase. Once open the interior will be a colourful celebration of Warner Bros. characters and movies along with a themed restaurant and rooftop pool. The more controversial Seaworld Abu Dhabi project will be joining the three existing theme parks to cement Yas Island as a top tourist and leisure destination.

Al Qana – Expected to open later this year, Al Qana is a vast new waterfront entertainment destination in the heart of Abu Dhabi. Located in the Rabdan area (near the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque), the state-of-the-art development will be home to the UAE’s biggest aquarium, the capital’s largest standalone cinema complex, an amphitheatre, cultural and lifestyle centres, a huge e-sports facility, running and cycling tracks, marina and curated dining outlets.

The exciting new concept will be divided into seven different zones connected by four bridges to offer visitors the chance to wander along the boulevards to access the different dining, entertainment, retail and wellness opportunities. Fun-filled immersive experiences will include live performances and concerts, water shows and an abundance of new food and beverage concepts. While much of the project is yet to be announced it has been divulged that The National Aquarium will have the longest underwater tunnel in the UAE and the largest wildlife rehabilitation facilities in the region. 

The Community Place will be home to a gourmet dining concept and food hall created in partnership with urban supermarket chain, Grandiose. The culinary market will offer fresh local and international flavours all under one roof. Rumour has it that Al Qana will have over ninety food & beverage outlets but so far only four cafes have been announced. Homegrown brands Cartel Coffee Roasters and Joud Cafe have confirmed new outlets, RAK’s Space cafe will make its Abu Dhabi debut along with brand new concept Notorious Cafe which is inspired by old school New York.

Wellness facilities, a kids’ zone, the first UAE VR zone will be located in the modern lifestyle hub that will have outdoor landscaped community spaces. Easily accessible from both on and off island, Al Qana will be an exciting new family-friendly landmark for residents and a unique tourist attraction for overseas visitors. Find out more at alqana.ae

Reem Mall – The future of retail is coming to the capital when one of the region’s biggest shopping malls opens on Al Reem Island later this year. You may think we already have enough shopping malls but clearly that’s not the case as Reem Mall will house another 450 shops. 

Located in the heart of Abu Dhabi, Reem Mall will be a major new retail, dining, leisure and entertainment destination. It will offer a mix of state-of-the-art digital retail opinions and traditional shopping as well as the world’s largest indoor snow park, Snow Abu Dhabi. The ginormous 2.8 million square feet space will have four department stores, a hypermarket, two food courts, eighty-five dining outlets, a multiplex cinema and children’s entertainment venues.

Snow Abu Dhabi will be a snow covered enchanted forest, a fanciful concept with rides, attractions and characters. The chilly (rumoured to be a baltic -2ºc) venue looks like it’s been inspired by a Disney movie meets ski resort. Visitors will be able to take a sleigh and toboggan rides, go tubing, have a snowball fight and warm up with a hot chocolate at the dedicated chocolate bar. Other rumoured activities include a polar express train, crystal carousel, snowflake garden, a giant enchanted tree and dining opportunities.

The question is will this indoor snowy fantasy have penguins like Ski Dubai? This place will definitely be a hit with all the young Frozen fans, it’s just a shame it’s not already open as it would be a great place to hide out from the soaring August temperatures. Read more at reemmall.ae

Saadiyat Cultural District – The Louvre Abu Dhabi will be joined by the Zayed National Museum thus changing the skyline of the Saadiyat Cultural District forever. The capital’s position as a global centre of arts and culture will be further enhanced when the futurist Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is also completed.

The new Zayed National museum, which is expected to open at the later end of 2021, has been designed as a monument and memorial to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan. Designed by award-winning architect Norman Foster, the museum will have a striking contemporary design with five towers that resemble the wing tips of the falcon, the symbol of the UAE’s heritage.

Several galleries will tell the story of Sheikh Zayed and his legacy as well as the history and culture of the UAE. The museum will also house the Sheikh Zayed Library. Find out more at Abu Dhabi Culture

Keep up-to-date with everything that’s happening in Abu Dhabi via Visit Abu Dhabi

Unless otherwise stated all photos © Jo Brett 2021. All rights reserved. Featured photo and additional photos used with courtesy of respective venues.

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