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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

UAE news in review: the most popular web stories of 2017

From Dubai Marina's mysterious orange water, to the world realising Abu Dhabi's excellence – our most popular online stories of the year were a real mixed bag

Visit La Mer Beach in Dubai for entertainment and family fun. Reem Mohammed / The National
Visit La Mer Beach in Dubai for entertainment and family fun. Reem Mohammed / The National

New beach and entertainment space La Mer opens to Dubai public

In a city famed for its plethora of entertainment options, it's only fitting that La Mer's opening was our most popular UAE story of 2017.

The beachfront Meraas development – all 1.24 million square metres of it – opened on October 15.

If you haven't checked it out yet, think water features inspired by breaking waves sitting alongside walkways bedecked with towering palm trees, marram grass verges, hammocks and sprawling timber walkways packed with restaurants. Bliss.

In 2018, keep your eyes on The National for news of phase two of the development: The Wharf will include a waterpark, a surf park and a cinema, as well as additional shops and restaurants.

The waters of Dubai Marina turned orange in June. Courtesy Stewart Clarke
The waters of Dubai Marina turned orange in June. Courtesy Stewart Clarke

Mysterious orange water at Dubai Marina raises concerns

While our previous marine destination basked in the glow of success, another this year mysteriously turned orange.

In June, residents of Dubai Marina took to social media to share photos of the water outside their apartments, which had inexplicably turned a fluorescent hue of terracotta.

Theories ranged from an oil spill to groundwater, but later that day the culprit was found: bentonite.

The naturally occurring material, which is used in construction, had spread to the canal via the drainage system following excavation works, Dubai Municipality said.

And thus, the mystery of the orange water was solved.

Dubai airport's security tunnel on display at Gitex last year. The tunnel will be equipped with about 80 cameras that will scan faces while they’re in motion and clear them for security. Satish Kumar for The National
Dubai airport's security tunnel on display at Gitex last year. The tunnel will be equipped with about 80 cameras that will scan faces while they’re in motion and clear them for security. Satish Kumar for The National

Dubai airport's new virtual aquarium tunnel scans your face as you walk through it

We're not sure whether our readers were drawn by the quirky new scanners at Dubai airport themselves, or by our roving reporter who was one of their first guinea pigs, but either way the new security measures at Dubai International proved a hit.

The virtual aquarium tunnels that scans a passenger's face or iris while the person is still in motion were announced in October.

The tunnel, which displays high-quality images of an aquarium, are equipped with about 80 cameras.

While we still have a while to wait until we can use them (Terminal 3 at Dubai International will get one in summer 2018, and the rest will be rolled out over the next couple of years), it's obvious airport security efficiency a is popular topic.

UAE-based users of Skype have started a campaign to relax restrictions on the Microsoft-owned phone and video service. Dado Ruvic / Reuters
UAE-based users of Skype have started a campaign to relax restrictions on the Microsoft-owned phone and video service. Dado Ruvic / Reuters

Skype blocked again in the UAE

It's a common conundrum for UAE residents – keeping in touch with friends and family when communication modes are spontaneously or permanently blocked – but the inability to use Skype earlier in the year really vexed people.

Callers were unable to connect on June 25, with little explanation from the Microsoft-owned company.

It came a week after WhatsApp calls were enabled by a global update, only to be blocked again the next day.

“Unfortunately, there is very little Skype can do about this situation," Skype said.

And thus, we continue to operate between Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Snapchat and Facebook with varied success.

Apartment rents declined by 2 per cent quarter-on-quarter, while sales prices of apartments fell by 3 per cent.Christopher Pike / The National
Apartment rents declined by 2 per cent quarter-on-quarter, while sales prices of apartments fell by 3 per cent.Christopher Pike / The National

Abu Dhabi named second best city to live and work in

What better note to end on, than our fair capital city coming out (almost) trumps in a list of best places to live in the world.

The latest Ipsos City Index saw the UAE's capital move up two places since the survey was last carried out in 2013 – but was still unable to topple New York from its lofty perch.

Nonetheless, Abu Dhabi rated above London and Paris, sparking intense debate on social media.

More than 18,000 people, aged between 16 and 64, in 26 countries worldwide were interviewed for the index.

In short, a lot of people really like living in Abu Dhabi.

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UAE news year in review: the most important stories of 2017