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12 stunning new hotels in the Middle East that demand a visit

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If you’re looking to visit the Middle East, a tempting array of options are vying for the attention of global travellers.

The world’s tallest hotel. Two hotels in one, sweeping together like crossed swords. One with the world’s largest jellyfish tank. Another aimed at athletes. Rather than going for subtlety and blending into their surroundings, these hotels are bursting onto the scene and demanding a visit.

Here’s a look at some of the most interesting scheduled to open in the Middle East in 2023.

United Arab Emirates

When you’re opening in the Middle East’s biggest tourism market, in a city already known for making the fantastical a reality, you have to keep finding new ways to stand out. That’s what an array of dynamic new hotels are doing this year in Dubai. Hotels are busy—occupancy rates for the first 10 months of 2022 are above 70%, according to Dubai’s tourism department. That’s not going to bring down room rates any time soon, even with cranes and construction workers quickly adding to the supply. At the end of June, Dubai had 773 hotels with  140 778 rooms, up from 714 hotels and 118 345 rooms in 2019, according to design and architecture firm Gensler Middle East. More are coming this year.

Atlantis the Royal

We previewed this hotel last year, wondering whether it would be Dubai’s most luxurious hotel yet. The nearly 800-room property is set to welcome guests in February along two kilometres ( 1.24 miles) of beachfront on the manmade Palm Jumeirah. It will have dozens and dozens of pools, including 44 private infinity pools attached to suites and penthouses, and two adults-only pools. As for special Dubai touches, the resort will boast a helipad, “fire breathing” fountains and a tank with 4 000 jellyfish—described as the largest in the world. Opening February 2023

Ciel Hotel

The Ciel says it will be the planet’s tallest hotel, at 365 meters (1 198 feet) high. The skyscraper’s 82 floors will have more than 1 000 rooms. It’s being built at the north end of Dubai’s manmade (of course) Marina district, a lovely place to spend an afternoon walking around the promenade, looking at yachts, eating and shopping. Other than that, not much is known about the property, because the developer is still shopping for a brand to run the place. Opening in the fourth quarter of 2023

FIVE Luxe

The FIVE brand instantly became popular with locals and tourists—and known for partying—when it opened its first hotel in Dubai, in 2019. Now the company is opening its third property in the emirate, promising to “embody the authentic and unique vibe that global millennials love.” The beachfront resort will have an outdoor gym, an indoor pool, a paddle tennis court and more. Opening in the fourth quarter of 2023; rooms are expected to start at  ,600 dirhams ($436) per night

Jumeirah Marsa Al Arab

First, there was a sail. Then a wave. Now comes the superyacht. The Jumeirah Group is finishing a 386-room hotel on the Dubai coast that it’s calling the final part of its trilogy. (The “sail” hotel is the Burj Al Arab, an emblem of Dubai.) Beyond the normal rooms and suites, there will be 83 luxury apartment-style suites, the hotel says on its website, all surrounded by landscaped gardens. And a dining concept that will combine four different restaurants into one venue. Opening in the third quarter of 2023

Siro and One & Only One Za’abeel

From the company behind the Atlantis resorts in Dubai and the One & Only brand, Siro is aimed at those of us who are fit and loving it. There will be a two-story gym and fitness programs shaped by Olympic athletes. The first will open in Dubai late in 2023 in the same tower complex as a new One & Only luxury hotel. They will share restaurants and other cafe spaces in a horizontal, cantilevered section of the building called the Link. Opening in the fourth quarter of 2023; rooms are expected to start at $400 per night

Turkey

The Peninsula

Peninsula is opening two hotels this year, one in London closely followed by this one in Istanbul, its first openings in nearly a decade. The Istanbul hotel along the Bosphorus will have 177 rooms, including a 5 490-square-foot suite with its own hammam, gym and swimming pool right next to the river. Three of the property’s four buildings are protected landmarks. Opening February 14; rates from €975 ($1 034) per night

Saudi Arabia

It was only in 2019 that the Middle East’s largest country began offering tourist visas. Now whole luxury islands are opening up, along with dozens of hotels, as Saudi Arabia aims to hit 100 million visitors by 2030.  The nation is planning to spend a trillion dollars to get there, which includes an avalanche of marketing dollars convincing the world to look past the nation’s reputation for human rights abuses. And despite lots of chatter about the future of alcohol service in the kingdom, nothing has been announced, and officials continue to say they have no plans to change their current bans.

St. Regis Red Sea Resort

The Red Sea property will be one of two St. Regis is opening in Saudi Arabia in 2023, the other being in the capital, Riyadh. What do we know about it so far? The St. Regis Red Sea will have 90 villas on a private island, a pool, gym, spa and kids’ club. Opening in the second quarter of 2023

Six Senses Southern Dunes, the Red Sea

Six Senses is building at one of two inland sites at the Red Sea development. The luxury brand’s first property in Saudi Arabia will be a desert retreat and spa with 76 rooms and an “artisan village” with arts, crafts, dance and music. Opening in early 2023; rates from $899 per night, including breakfast for two

Nujuma, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

The fifth Ritz-Carlton Reserve in the world, and the first in the Middle East, will be part of the Red Sea project. Sixty-three villas will be spread across a chain of private islands, and guests can enjoy the amenities you’d expect: a spa, swimming pool and restaurants. Opening in the third quarter of 2023

Qatar

The tiny Gulf state is just coming down from the biggest event in its history, the 2022 men’s FIFA World Cup. In the scramble to get rooms ready for all of the expected visitors, some hotels missed the tournament completely, while others partially opened for only VIP guests, waiting to welcome the general public until after the games or even in 2023. Here are a few notable openings that basically count as brand-new:

Fairmont and Raffles Doha

Driving past the Katara Towers containing these two hotels, one might wonder if they’d fallen asleep and woken up in a CGI Marvel universe. The building’s sweeping arches are fashioned to look like the Qatari national emblem of two crossed scimitars, or curved swords. One half is the Raffles, an all-suite property, and the other is the Fairmont. Open now; rates from about $1 300 for the Raffles and $521 for the Fairmont per night

The Ned

After opening in London and New York, this members club and hotel from some of the same people behind the Soho Houses picked Doha for its third location. Gareth Banner, managing director of the Ned, says that’s because of the building they were able to get in the city—the former Ministry of the Interior offices on the city’s corniche. David Chipperfield Architects and Soho House Design reshaped the building into a 90-room hotel with an atrium at the centre, a nod to the design in London. You’ll be sure to see its lush 30-meter (98-foot) pool on Instagram soon. Open now; rates from $344 per night

© 2022 Bloomberg

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