With some of the world’s most famous works of architecture in its name, Dubai ranks among the top tourist destinations on the globe. As the most expensive city in the Middle East, Dubai has awed the world with its architectural wonders that reflect traditional Arabian styles as well as showcase modern innovations.
From humble beginnings as a desert village with low-lying structures, Dubai currently holds the distinction of having the world’s tallest man-made structure, Burj Khalifa, and a skyline full of high-rise towers. While the Burj Al Arab resembles the sail of a yacht, Atlantis The Palm is renowned as the only resort that is based on the myth of the Lost City of Atlantis. From the world’s largest artificial islands at The Palm to The World Islands that mimic a world map, Dubai’s architecture brings innovation and sustainability together in a way that has paved the way for modernistic architectural developments across the world.
Admire the world’s largest frame, the Dubai Frame, as you tour the most famous works of architecture in Dubai. Designed as a massive frame made from reinforced concrete, laminated glass and steel, visitors can spot the modern wonders of Dubai on one side and the older iconic structures on the other side of the Frame. A 50-metre-long opaque liquid crystal bridge connects the two towers of the Dubai Frame and turns clear when a visitor walks over it.
Location: Zabeel Park Jogging Track, Za’abeel, Al Kifaf, Dubai, UAE
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Witness the magic of opera come alive at the Dubai Opera, a 2,000-seat performing arts centre that can be transformed into a traditional opera, exhibition hall or a modern concert hall. Located across the Dubai Fountain next to the Dubai Mall, the Opera has been designed like a traditional Arabian Dhow or a sailing vessel. While the ‘bow’ of the Opera has the main stage, seating space and orchestra, the ‘hull’ has drop-off, waiting and parking spaces.
Location: Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashed Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, Dubai, UAE
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Dubai’s most well-known architectural marvel, the Burj Khalifa, ranks as the world’s tallest man-made structure and is a modern take on the region’s Islamic architecture. The tower rises from a flat desert base into 27 setbacks in a spiral pattern that tapers into a spire at the top. With a height of 828 metres, Burj Khalifa has more than 150 floors and functions as a residential and tourist attraction of the Dubai skyline.
Location: 1 Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, Dubai, UAE
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Located on an artificial island off Jumeirah Beach, the iconic Burj Al Arab is renowned as the world’s only seven-star hotel. With a striking resemblance to the sail of a yacht, the Burj Al Arab is one of the world’s tallest hotels, rising to a height of 321 metres. The structure has a steel frame exterior that has been wrapped around a concrete tower, while the foundation has a ground layer of rocks encircled by a concrete honeycomb to provide ample protection to the structure.
Location: Jumeirah St, Umm Suqeim 3, Dubai, UAE
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A unique wonder of Dubai’s architecture, the Cayan Tower was inaugurated as the tallest high-rise building in the world with a 90-degree twist. As it rises to a height of 306 metres with 75 floors, it offers magnificent views of the Dubai Marina and Palm Island and is used as a luxury residential space. While the apartments have no balconies to provide additional shade from sun rays, they have been designed to ensure ample sunlight enters the rooms.
Location: 1202, Al Barsha Heights, Teacom, Dubai Marina, Dubai, UAE
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Ranked among Dubai’s most distinguished landmarks, Atlantis, The Palm is an iconic ocean-themed resort located on the crescent-shaped Palm Jumeirah. With mesmerising views of the Arabian Gulf, Atlantis was the first resort based on the myth of the Lost City of Atlantis and features classic Arabian architectural elements. Atlantis has more than 1500 rooms spread across its East and West Wing, which are connected by the Royal Bridge Suite and is world-renowned for its unique ‘Underwater Suites’.
Location: Crescent Rd, The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE
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Designed in the shape of a breaking wave, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel ranks among Dubai’s famous works of architecture. With approximately 350 rooms fitted with unparalleled luxuries, the 93-metre-high five-star hotel has more than 10 restaurants and five swimming pools, as well as a private beach. The 26-storey marvel offers breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf and was the original luxury hotel that spearheaded Dubai’s rapid rise on the world tourism map.
Location: Jumeirah St, Umm Suqeim, Umm Suqeim 3, Dubai, UAE
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Explore the second largest mall in the world as you head to the Dubai Mall, one of the landmarks of Dubai’s architecture. With more than 1,200 shops and thousand-plus retailers, the Dubai Mall has massive domes and atriums that reflect traditional architectural styles. A blend of modernity and luxury, the mall showcases Dubai’s local culture through intricate motifs that adorn the walls and ceilings and large cultural zones like The Souk and The Village.
Location: Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashed Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, Dubai, UAE
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Witness three of Dubai’s most famous attractions at The Palm Islands, which combines the artificial islands of Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali and Deira Island. While the Palm Jumeirah mimics a stylised palm tree, the Palm Jebel Ali is a larger palm tree-shaped crescent island. With private residences and luxury beachfront hotels like the Atlantis dotting the Palm Islands, the islands add a total of 520 kilometres to Dubai’s coastline and are the largest artificial islands in the world.
Location: Palm Islands, Dubai, UAE
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Among the most famous works of architecture in Dubai are The World Islands, an archipelago consisting of artificial islands made from sand drawn from Dubai’s shores. The islands, which number 300, have been designed into seven groups to mimic the continents of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, South America and Antarctica on the world map. Located three miles from the Dubai coast, The World Islands also have a floating replica of Venice.
Location: The World Archipelago, Dubai, UAE
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One of the most stunning architectural marvels of Dubai, The Opus was designed as two distinct towers that come together into a singular whole to form an ‘eroded’ cube. The two halves on either side of the cube void are connected by a four-storey atrium on the ground and a three-storey bridge above. As the structure explores the dynamic between the solid and the transparent, the glass cube structure has 7 floors below ground and 20 floors above.
Location: Al Amal St, Business Bay, Dubai, UAE
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Experience the luxurious lifestyle of Dubai as you explore and stay at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Known as the eleventh tallest structures in Dubai, the equilateral-triangle-shaped towers are an unmissable icon of the city. With public seating areas, gardens, waterfalls and lakes, the twin towers rise to a height of 309 metres and 350 metres and have more than fifty floors that are used for office and luxury hotel accommodation purposes.
Location: Sheikh Zayed Rd, Trade Centre, Dubai, UAE
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Yes, Dubai is best known across the world for its unparalleled architectural wonders. Dubai’s architecture includes the world’s tallest man-made structure (Burj Khalifa), an archipelago shaped like a world map (The World Islands), the world’s second-largest mall (Dubai Mall), the world’s second-tallest tower with a 90-degree spin (Cayan Tower), and much more.
Dubai’s claim to fame was the discovery of petroleum reserves, which have since fuelled the city’s rise as a luxury travel destination. With famous works of architecture like the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Atlantis The Palm, Cayan Tower, the Palm Islands and much more, Dubai is a wonderland of modern architecture and engineering that attracts visitors with its iconic leisure destinations.