Lonely Planet Writer

Dubai is building two new artificial islands to cater for families and luxury travellers

Two new luxury and man-made islands will be built in Dubai by 2020, bringing lavish new amenities to either side of the iconic Burj Al Arab.

Dubai cityscape.
Dubai cityscape. Image by ©Joel Jacla/500px

‘Marsa Al Arab’ is set to be a “comprehensive tourist destination” that will encourage families to visit the city and build up tourist infrastructure in advance of Expo 2020 Dubai.

The giant project will be spread over four million-square-feet over two islands on either side of Burj Al Arab Jumeriah, a hotel often described as the world’s most luxurious. One island will be an entertainment and family tourism site, while the other will be a luxury resort. Combined, they will add 2.2 kilometres of beachfront to the area.

A rendering of Dubai Holding's new luxury development on either side of Burj Al Arab.
Model of Marsa Al Arab’s family attractions on a luxury island in Dubai. Image by Dubai Holding

One island will feature the construction of a family-oriented hotel, and the existing Wild Wadi Waterpark will be moved closer to the beach and doubled in size. A new marine park will be the first-of-its-kind marine life educational and entertainment centre in the Middle East, according to Dubai Holding, the group behind the project. With a 1000-seat-theatre, visitors will be able to see shows on marine life and see aquatic animals and fish. In addition, the island will see a new 1700-seat-theatre that will serve as a permanent base for Cirque du Soleil for the first time in the Middle East.

The company will also create Dubai Pearl Museum, which will show off a historical collection of rare and ancient pearls and reflect “the UAE’ heritage, culture and national pride”. In addition, the museum will have a pearl farm in the sea and cultivate quality pearls.

A rendering of Dubai Holding's new luxury development on either side of Burj Al Arab.
Model of Marsa Al Arab commercial space in Dubai. Image by Dubai Holding

The exclusive private island will have 140 luxury villas, where travellers can stay in complete privacy and use a marina intended only for residents. Located to the left of Burj Al Arab Jumeriah, it will also be operated by the Jumeirah Group.

For those looking to get out and enjoy the outdoors, the development will offer pedestrian pathways, a jogging track, large swimming pool and a cycling course. Work on the development will begin in June 2017 and will completed by late 2020.