AlUla, Saudi Arabia
An ambitious master plan aimed at revitalizing this once-forgotten place in the northwestern desert of Saudi Arabia is beginning to bear fruit. The main reason to go is to discover Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered the sister site to Petra, which was once the principal southern city of the ancient Nabateans. This year, AlUla’s storied Old Town was reopened to visitors after an extensive restoration with a new open-air market, four restaurants, and an entertainment area, while Habitas AlUla opened as the first of three luxury resorts coming to the area. With a focus on wellness, culture, and sustainability, the resort features an organic design inspired by the desert surroundings.
The pandemic delayed the long-awaited Expo 2020 Dubai, but it’s currently on until March 2022. There are 192 country pavilions, 200+ restaurants, and 60+ daily shows to take in, plus theme weeks addressing global challenges such as travel and connectivity, and health and wellness. 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 popping up all over the city. This year, cult museum Meow Wolf opened the psychedelic Convergence Station, and the Clayton Members Club & Hotel opened with a stylish design by AvroKO and an elevated arts program by Nine Dot Arts. These are just the latest in a slew of openings, including the Ramble Hotel with dining and drinking establishments by the team behind New York’s famed Death & Co.