After some 10 years of stagnation, the ambitious plans for The World are up and running again. If you want proof, check out the vast Heart of Europe model and sales desk in the main entrance lobby at Dubai Mall. The first 'island' set for completion, Sweden, is due to open its first ultra-luxurious permanent residences by early 2019. Each of the Swedish so-called beach palaces will have their private sweep of sand and marine area, plus a coral beach.

The Heart of Europe development covers six islands with resorts, residential units and 13 luxury hotels. For those homesick Northern Europeans who miss the drizzle and cold, there will be climate-controlled streets that can catch you in a downpour or have you squelching in the snow.

Staying with the surreal, the Floating Seahorse will offer luxury underwater living with a series of villas where the master bedroom and bathroom are totally submerged in the sea (so much for privacy when you're soaping down in the shower).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Dubai attractions

1. Kite Beach

4.84 MILES

This long, pristine stretch of white sand, a little way north of Jumeirah Public Beach, is a major draw for sporty types, with a range of activities on…

2. Night Beach

4.98 MILES

Fancy a nighttime swim with the twinkling Burj Al Arab as a backdrop? Since 2017, you can legally take a post-sunset dip along a 125m stretch of beach…

3. Majlis Ghorfat Um Al Sheef


This rare vestige of pre-oil times was built in 1955 as the summer retreat of Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the father of current ruler Sheikh…

4. Jumeirah Public Beach


Just north of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, this public beach (also known as Sunset Beach) is perfect for snapping that envy-inducing selfie with the Burj Al…

5. Burj Al Arab

5.58 MILES

The Burj Al Arab's graceful silhouette – meant to evoke the sail of a dhow (a traditional wooden cargo vessel) – is to Dubai what the Eiffel Tower is to…

6. Safa Park

5.95 MILES

A green oasis in the centre of the city, this pretty park hugs the new Dubai Canal (which has diminished its size somewhat) and comes with a jogging track…

7. Madinat Jumeirah

6.14 MILES

One of Dubai’s most attractive developments, Madinat Jumeirah is a contemporary interpretation of a traditional Arab village, complete with a souq (market…

8. La Mer

6.21 MILES

With shops, restaurants, a waterpark, a beachfront with hammocks and a huge playpark, La Mer is Dubai’s newest beachfront destination. Opened in 2018 …