From new creative hubs to record-breaking attractions, change is sweeping the Middle East as nations around the region are gearing up to introduce new landmarks and putting the final touches to wow the world with a host of new icons, that are set to open soon
National History Museum Abu Dhabi
Saadiyat Cultural District in the UAE capital will become home to the Natural History Museum in 2025. Featuring some of the rarest natural history specimens ever found on planet Earth, the museum will spotlight the story of evolution with an immersive experience that takes visitors on a journey to the beginning of time.
A spectacular collection of specimens from the natural world will be on display, enabling visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the planet's past. But the highlight will definitely be Stan – the famous the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton that was acquired anonymously by Abu Dhabi in 2020 at Christie’s auction house in New York City.
Grand Egyptian Museum, Cairo
This November, the Grand Egyptian Museum will become the largest archaeological complex in the world, home to more than 100,000 artefacts.
For the first time ever, ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s entire treasure will be on display for the world to see. This splendid collection will sit alongside exhibits covering thousands of years of Egypt's history, from the pharaonic civilisation through to the ancient Greek and Roman periods of local history, and beyond.
Red Sea Shipwreck
Part of the vast Red Sea Project, which aims to bring millions of tourists to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia each year, the Red Sea Shipwreck is one of several archaeological sites dotted around the country. The early 18th-century shipwreck, discovered in 2016 and very likely of Egyptian origin, is set to draw divers from around the world to explore the giant ship now living deep below the Red Sea when it opens up later this year. Believed to have been a trading vessel sailing as far as China and India to bring back goods destined for the Ottoman Empire and Europe, historians are currently uncovering the heritage of this historic vessel.
TeamLab Borderless, Jeddah
A new digital art space is coming to Saudi next year – TeamLab Borderless Jeddah, a dedicated space to house experiential pieces by a mix of artists, programmers, engineers, computer graphics animators, mathematicians, architects and graphic designers.
The concept was founded in Tokyo in 2001, and since then, TeamLab has become famous for its use of digital technology and its application in the world of art. A first for Saudi Arabia, it reflects the country’s growth in arts and culture, not least, in the modern art space.
Diriyah Gate, Riyadh
One of Riyadh’s biggest and most exciting developments, Diriyah Gate in Riyadh is an ambitious US$20 billion heritage and tourism project, spearheaded by Diriyah Gate Development Authority. When it opens to the world, it aims to attract 25 million visitors annually. With museums, retail, restaurants and hotels, it will be a world-class hub for education, recreation, culture, retail and hospitality.
The project will see the culturally and commercially historic area of Ad Diriyah (recognised as the birthplace of the modern Saudi states) restored to a living heritage site and reimagined as a modern city. This includes the preservation and restoration of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif, which sits at the core of the development of Diriyah Gate in Riyadh.
Championing art in the kingdom, Diriyah will also lead the way by opening up a number of museums, including the House of Al Saud, expected to be the largest Islamic museum in the world.
Phase one of the project is expected to open this year, which will be followed by more phases until project completion in 2030.
Water Theme Park, Qiddiyah
Saudi Arabia's first and the region's largest water park is currently taking shape in Qiddiya. Set to open in 2024, it will be home to 23 rides and attractions – seven of which will be world firsts. While excitement and thrills are promised with every experience, the theme park is being designed keeping in mind the kingdom's rich culture and heritage. And it will also be the only theme park in the world to offer a unique mix of rides with and without water.