Al Ula, Saudi Arabia
An ambitious master plan to revitalize this once-forgotten place in the desert northwest of Saudi Arabia is beginning to bear fruit. The main reason to go there is to discover Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered the twin site of Petra, which was once the main southern city of the ancient Nabataeans. This year, the historic old town of AlUla was reopened to visitors after a comprehensive restoration with a new open-air market, four restaurants and an entertainment area, while Habitas AlUla opened as the first of three complexes luxury to come to the area. With a focus on wellness, culture and sustainability, the resort features an organic design inspired by the desert environment.
The pandemic has delayed the long-awaited Expo 2020 Dubai, but it is currently running until March 2022. There are 192 country pavilions, over 200 restaurants and over 60 daily shows to attend, as well as themed weeks dealing with global challenges such as travel and connectivity, and health and well-being. Also this year, the world’s largest observation wheel, Ain Dubai, debuted with experiences like dinner or drinks with a private bartender.
The Mile-High City is in the midst of an art and design renaissance, and there’s never been a better time to go. Abandoned warehouses have been transformed into cultural spaces and new hotels are springing up all over the city. This year, the cult Meow Wolf Museum opened the Psychedelic Convergence Station, and the Clayton Members Club & Hotel opened its doors with sleek design by AvroKO and an elevated art program by Nine Dot Arts. These are just the latest in a string of openings, including the Ramble Hotel with food and drink establishments by the team behind New York’s famed Death & Co.