A lot has happened since the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates was founded as a small fishing village in the 18th century.
Today, Dubai is one of the most fascinating cities in the world, full of towering skyscrapers and lavish structures, all built to lure tourists from all over the world.
Since the beginning of the 2000s, the city has grown at an incredible speed and has become one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. The strategy has worked.
People looking for extremely luxurious vacations will simply love Dubai, the city with an astounding number of five-star hotels situated on the coast of the Persian Gulf.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most famous buildings in Dubai, an awe-inspiring city full of amazing architectural wonders.
1. Burj Khalifa
Only superlatives allow us to describe the tallest building in Dubai, which is also the tallest building in the world with a height of 829.8 meters (2,722 feet) to its tip.
Burj Khalifa is one of the most astounding structures that was ever built and has dominated the Dubai skyline since its completion in the year 2009, and that means quite a bit in a city full of astounding skyscrapers.
One of the most popular tourist attractions inside the building is the observation deck. This is situated at a height of 555.7 meters (1,823 feet) above the ground and offers astounding views of the city and the Persian Gulf.
It’s fair to conclude that this observation deck, fittingly named “At the Top,” is a must-visit attraction if you plan to visit Dubai.
Official website: Burj Khalifa
2. Burj Al Arab
Dubai is full of luxury hotels, and one of them stands out. Not just because of the amazing rooms or the fact that it has a 5-star rating, but something quite else.
Burj Al Arab is located on a small island and was built with the sole purpose to become a symbol of Dubai. Its design resembles the sail of a boat, giving it a distinctive appearance that has become world-famous since its completion in 1999.
It was also one of the tallest hotels in the world upon completion with the top of the building reaching a height of 321 meters (1,053 feet).
The artificial island is located just 280 meters (920 feet) away from one of the most popular beaches in Dubai called Jumeirah Beach. This is by far one of the best spots to take a closer look at this architectural wonder.
If you have the budget, you can also book a room in this magnificent structure and get an even closer look at one of the most amazing hotel lobbies in the world.
Official website: Burj Al Arab
3. Dubai Fountain
The center of downtown Dubai is defined by a man-made lake called Burj Khalifa Lake, this is for the main reason that it’s located right at the base of the most amazing skyscraper in the world.
This immense lake in downtown Dubai, which covers an area of 12 hectares (30 acres), is equipped with one of the most stunning fountains in the world.
The Dubai Fountain is a choreographed fountain that is capable of shooting water up to 152.4 meters (500 feet) into the air. It features 6,600 lights and 50 color projectors as well which are capable of creating an enthralling light show in the heart of the city.
The daily show is one of the most popular attractions in the city every night (there are also shows at 1:00 and 1:30 pm), and it should be since building this fountain cost a whopping US$218 million!
Official website: Dubai Fountain
4. Dubai Mall
What would one of the most decadent places on the planet be without an enormous shopping mall, right? They surely thought about this as well in the form of the Dubai Mall, located right next to the Burj Khalifa Lake in the center of the city.
This enormous shopping facility is one of the biggest on the planet as it has a total retail floor area of 502,000 square meters (5,400,000 square feet) and the largest mall in the world in terms of total occupied space.
With over 1,200 shops, you’ll have a hard time not finding what you’re looking for. Spending an entire day inside this shopping palace is pretty easy as well if you enjoy shopping.
It’s one of the main attractions in the city and one of the most visited buildings in the world. It’s only a matter of time before the 100 million visitor mark is reached, staggering figures indeed.
Official website: The Dubai Mall
5. Al Fahidi Historical District
A visit to Dubai wouldn’t be complete without exploring the historical heritage of the city. After all, this bustling city was once a small village.
One of the best ways to discover the historic side of Dubai is to visit the Al Fahidi Historical District, also known as the town of “Al Bastakiya.”
This section of the city was built in the late 19th century and features traditional housing units, a traditional Arabian Tea House Café, and multiple venues to learn more about Old Dubai.
Remarkably, this section of the city was supposed to be demolished to make way for modern buildings, but a combined effort from a British architect named Rayner Otter and Prince Charles ensured this historical district has been preserved.
Official website: Al Fahidi Historical District
6. Dubai Frame
One of the most fascinating architectural landmarks in the city can be found in Zabeel Park, a large urban park that covers an area of 47.5 hectares (117.375 acres) in the central part of the city.
This monument is known as the “Dubai Frame” and is considered to be the biggest picture frame in the world as it reaches an amazing height of 150 meters (492 feet).
The location of this magnificent structure wasn’t accidental as well. When looking through this frame, the modern skyscrapers that dominate the view of downtown Dubai can be seen, while the older sections of the city are visible from the other side.
This alone makes visiting the Dubai Frame one of the most fascinating buildings in Dubai. The top of the structure and its Skydeck provide some of the most astounding views of the city imaginable, that’s for sure.
Official website: Dubai Frame
7. Cayan Tower
The Cayan Tower is the most distinctive skyscraper in the Dubai Marina district, an area in the city that is full of huge skyscrapers.
That’s because it has a twisting shape, similar to the Turning Torso in Malmö, Sweden. This was the first skyscraper in the world to be designed in such a manner and was followed by countless similar buildings worldwide.
The twisting skyscraper in Dubai rotates 1.2 degrees at each of the tower’s floors. It stands 306.4 meters (1,005 feet) tall and was constructed between 2006 and 2013.
It was the tallest skyscraper in the world upon completion that twists over 90 degrees. It was surpassed by the Shanghai Tower, one of the most astounding skyscrapers in Shanghai, shortly after.
8. Jumeirah Beach Hotel
Jumeirah Beach Hotel is another luxury hotel in Dubai located just east of Burj Al Arab, the hotel that was designed with the shape of the sail of a boat. The building complements it because it has the shape of a wave.
It was completed long before the huge skyscrapers in the city were erected in 1997. This is emphasized that it was the 9th-tallest building in Dubai upon completion with a height of just 93 meters (305 feet).
Today, this height is not enough for a place in the top 100 tallest buildings in Dubai, even though it remains one of the most prominent landmarks in the city.
Official website: Jumeirah Beach Hotel
9. Dubai Opera
Dubai Opera is the main performing arts center and opera house in the city. It’s located at the foot of Burj Khalifa in downtown Dubai, right along the northern tip of the Dubai Fountain.
The main auditorium can seat 1,200 people and is used for a wide variety of events, including opera, ballet, and theater performances, concerts, and exhibitions. The building can also be hired for events such as weddings and even fashion shows.
The current structure is a lot more humble than the initial proposal of a multi-functional venue designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid. These plans were shelved during the real estate crisis of 2008.
The building was completed between 2013 and 2016 and is an integral part of the so-called “Opera District,” an area that also features art galleries, museums, design studios, and spaces for cultural events.
Official website: Dubai Opera
10. Atlantis The Palm
The exuberance of the construction projects in Dubai is emphasized by a huge land reclamation project in the shape of a palm tree called “The Palm Jumeirah.”
This enormous project increased the shoreline of Dubai along the Persian Gulf by 520 kilometers (320 miles) and it’s estimated that over 10,000 people already live here.
The centerpiece on the furthest island is a huge hotel building that is connected to the gates of the islands by the Palm Jumeriah Monorail. This railway has a length of 5.4 kilometers (3.4 miles) something that emphasizes the scale of this project.
The building of the hotel was constructed between 2004 and 2006 and reaches a height of 93 meters (305 feet). It features a whopping 1,548 rooms and some of them are located below water level.
Official website: Atlantis The Palm Dubai