Dubai is a city where innovation sits comfortably with heritage and tradition. Its blend of futuristic design, combined with a rich culture and stunning location, is alluring enough. Add to this an exciting line-up of world-class events and openings for 2020, and there’s never been a better time to visit.
1. Birthday bonanza
January marks the tenth anniversary of the record-breaking Burj Khalifa, one of Dubai’s landmark sights. At a cloud-nudging 829.8 metres, Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest structure; expect sky-high celebrations throughout the year.
2. Escape winter
With winter temperatures in the mid-20s, Dubai knocks those January blues on the head. And with miles of sandy coastline, there’s a beach for everyone – whether you want to paddleboard on Kite Beach or hang out with the beach club hipsters on Palm Jumeirah.
3. Join the flocks
Winter is a chance to see pink clouds of flamingos migrating to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, a protected wetland reserve. The beautiful sanctuary is 1,500 acres of wildlife-rich salt flats and mangrove lagoons.
4. Good enough to eat
Sample the best of the world’s chefs and their dishes, during Dubai Food Festival – an 18-day culinary celebration from February 26 to March 14. It’s a chance to enjoy both culinary superstars and much-loved local gems across a variety of food-themed events around the city.
5. Artful adventures
Art Dubai is a celebration of the Middle East’s thriving art scene in March, showcasing every medium from painting and sculpture to video and graffiti. Meet the artists, visit the galleries and be inspired from March 25-28.
6. Day at the races
The world’s richest horse race, Dubai World Cup, celebrates its 25th anniversary on March 28 at Meydan Racecourse. Dress to impress at one of the highlights of the Emirati social calendar.
7. Full moon yoga
There’s something magical about doing yoga by the light of the full moon. A number of hotels in Dubai offer this mindful activity, including Fairmont the Palm, which holds a monthly class.
8. A chance to celebrate
Experience Emirati hospitality and friendship during the holy month of Ramadan – which in 2020 starts around April 23 – joining the fast-breaking sunset meal of iftar, as well as the pre-dawn suhoor.
9. Metro miles
Dubai Metro adds a nine-mile extension this spring, linking the city to the Expo 2020 site. Dubai’s air-conditioned railway is a super-easy way to get around, whizzing you to landmarks including Dubai Mall and the historical neighbourhood of Al Fahidi, home to Dubai Museum.
10. All the fun of the fair
Dubai showcases the future from October 20 (till April 2021), when it hosts Expo 2020 – an exciting world fair exploring sustainability, mobility and opportunity. This is the first time that Expo will be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region.
11. See the Future
The Museum of the Future opens in 2020 and offers a thrilling, hands-on look at future technology in all its forms. Interactive exhibits will showcase the world’s greatest innovations, prototype ideas and inventions.
12. Let’s go round again
Dubai adds another first when the world’s tallest ferris wheel – Ain Dubai – opens in time for Expo 2020. Set at Bluewaters Island near Jumeirah Beach Residences, the landmark observation wheel will soar to 250 metres.
13. Step back in time
Discover the traditions and culture of the nomadic Bedouins at the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve. The largest unfenced nature reserve in the UAE, it is home to hundreds of migrating birds as well as the 3,000-year-old Saruq Al Hadid archaeological site.
14. Join the gym
Dubai Fitness Challenge takes over the city in October as it turns into an outdoor gym, and locals tackle 30 minutes of exercise for 30 days. Fitness villages pop up everywhere with free classes including HIIT and pilates.
15. Designer holidays
Dubai’s creativity comes to the fore in November during Dubai Design Week. Everything from architecture and fashion to graphic design is showcased in exhibitions, workshops and installations during this six-day festival.
16. Sky’s the limit
Get a bird’s-eye view of Dubai’s cityscape by a Seawings seaplane, and you’ll see the city’s incredible architecture and landmarks. Marvel at the Palm Jumeirah, Burj Khalifa and Jumeirah Islands.
17. Take a break
Dubai is the perfect stopover destination, breaking up that long flight to Asia or Australia with a taste of sunshine and adventure. Make the most of your stay with a Dubai Stopover Pass, with which you can save money and skip queues at sites such as Burj Khalifa and Dubai Frame.
18. New View
The new Address Sky View is a dazzling 260-metre tall hotel designed by the architects behind Burj Khalifa. Two huge gleaming towers are connected by a floating, three-storey Sky Bridge, which also features a 70-metre long infinity pool. With floor to ceiling windows, guests can marvel at the city views from the comfort of their suites.
19. Head for the desert
Leave the city for a desert adventure, whether on a camel trek or a thrilling sandboarding ride down the huge dunes. Spend the night, as the desert is embraced by velvet darkness and the stars come alive.
20. Late tackle
Dubai Rugby Sevens is a huge event in the fixture calendar, when sporting stars collide between November 26-28. Join the family-friendly fun in the Rugby Village and watch live bands and DJs between matches.