- Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid Residence
- The Landmark
- Etihad Towers
- Capital Gate
- The Gate Towers
- Aldar HQ
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
- W Abu Dhabi
- Emirates Palace
- Qasr Al Watan
- Qasr Al Hosn
- Louvre Abu Dhabi
Dubai may be famous for having one of the best skylines in the world, but Abu Dhabi’s architectural marvels are just as impressive. From the coin-shaped Aldar headquarters to a tower that rivals the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, here are some of the most iconic and famous buildings in Abu Dhabi.
Most famous buildings in Abu Dhabi
Like Dubai, the emirate of Abu Dhabi rose from its Bedouin past as a modest pearl diving and fishing village to one of the richest cities in the world after the discovery of oil. Today, the city is not only known for its wealth but also its many architectural wonders. If you plan on visiting the emirate soon, make sure you add these iconic buildings in Abu Dhabi to your sightseeing itinerary.
1– Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid
It’s pretty hard for anyone to miss the massively tall Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid Residence. At a sizeable 92-storeys, the residential building stands out from other structures in the capital’s Corniche Area. It also officially became the tallest building in Abu Dhabi at its completion in 2014, a title which it retains to this day. Featuring more than 400 living units, the 381-metre Residence tower has direct access to the World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi (WTCAD) and the WTC Mall.
Developed by Aldar Properties, apartments in Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid are ideal for those looking to stay in the most luxurious places in Abu Dhabi. Residents have access to several amenities like swimming pool, health club, play area for kids, 622 parking spaces and more.
2 – The Landmark
Rising 879 feet, The Landmark is a postmodern supertall skyscraper and one of the tallest buildings in Abu Dhabi. Also known as the Landmark Tower, the structure was designed by the US-based company Pelli Clarke and Associates and also won the firm an international award.
The mixed-use property includes 72 floors and five basement levels. 35 of the floors are for commercial use while the rest are meant as residential units and amenities like basement parking. The structure is located on Corniche Road, a 9km boulevard running alongside Corniche Beach.
Construction on the building started in 2006 and ended in 2013. As for the design, the plan of The Landmark tower is based on the dodecagon, a 12-sided shape frequently used in Islamic art. Additionally, the project was conceived as a series of layered screens to make it withstand challenging desert weather conditions.
Like what you see? Consider renting one of the apartments in Landmark Tower.
3 – Etihad Towers
The Etihad Towers, located at the westernmost side of the Abu Dhabi Corniche, is pretty hard to miss, considering their unique structure that curves beautifully at the top.
Etihad Towers are a cluster of five high-rise buildings. Meant for commercial and residential use, the unique aesthetic of the structure is credited to DBI Design, the Australian company behind the design. The structure also includes the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers which was once the capital’s tallest building.
The towers offer sweeping views of the surrounding Arabian Sea and the vibrant city. Those who like to live the high life can always visit and indulge in the many activities at Etihad Towers. The apartments in Etihad Towers may be a bit pricey, but the bragging rights are worth the expense.
4 – Capital Gate
The fourth entry on our list of famous buildings in Abu Dhabi is also the quirkiest. The Capital Gate tower earns props for being one of the more interesting addition to the city’s famed skyscraper skyline.
Also known as the Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi, the 160m tall slanting structure is recognised as the “world’s furthest leaning man-made tower” by Guinness World Records. At an impressive 18-degree twisting lean, the structure appears to bend with the desert wind. Compared to the 4-degree lean of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, that’s a lot! Moreover, a striking glass and steel façade straightens at the bottom to form a canopy, which makes the entrance all the more attractive.
Apart from a mind-boggling design, the 35-storey tower features a suspended outdoor pool on the 19th floor. Located in the Capital Centre, the mixed-use project includes offices, retail stores and the Hyatt Capital Gate Hotel. All of the rooms feature floor to ceiling windows. Want to know what it’s like living here? Consider renting an apartment in the Capital Gate Tower.
5 – The Gate Towers
The ancient monument of Stonehenge in England —a collection of standing stones with horizontally placed boulders on top — is one of the world’s most fascinating ancient structures. And it’s also the inspiration behind The Gate Towers in Abu Dhabi.
Located at the heart of Shams in Al Reem Island, the three-tower building is easily recognisable, more so by the bridge at the top that connects the towers — much like the supported boulders in Stonehenge. The award-winning development has 3,533 units, including 1 to 3-bedroom apartments, penthouses and townhouses. With panoramic views of the city skyline and the Arabian Gulf, living in the apartments in The Gate Towers is a dream.
6 – Aldar HQ
Want to see a building that is shaped like a giant coin? Head to the Aldar Headquarters! The building is an impressive architectural feat. At the time of its completion, it was the first circular skyscraper in the world. Most who see it say that it looks like a giant coin placed on its edge. But in actuality, the structure’s design is inspired by the clamshell, a reference to Abu Dhabi’s maritime heritage. The disc-shaped look of the building was achieved by using structural diagrid, a diagonal steel grid.
The building itself is home to Abu Dhabi’s largest real estate development firm. Over $1 billion went into its construction, unsurprising considering the skill and manpower it took to achieve its distinct coin shape.
The Aldar Headquarters is located between the Sheikh Zayed Road and the waters leading to the city’s outer islands. Owned by Aldar Properties, it was completed in 2010 and has a height of 361 feet.
7 – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
With a look as grand as its name, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is another famous building in Abu Dhabi worth the visit. A fusion of modern and historical architecture, the mosque is a representation of the cultural diversity in the Islamic world — and also a testament to the city’s sizeable Muslim expat population. It can accommodate up to 40,000 worshippers at a time. The place is also a major tourist attraction and welcomes visitors from all faiths.
Aside from being one of the largest mosques in the world, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque also features one of the largest marble mosaics in the world. Moreover, it also features an expansive courtyard, 82 domes and four minarets.
8 – W Hotel Abu Dhabi
The unique shape of the W hotel deserves it a place on the most famous buildings in Abu Dhabi. W Abu Dhabi is noted for its steel and glass “grid” shell that creates a see-through canopy over the hotel’s two towers and a lighting system with more than 5,000 light bulbs. Overlooking the spectacular F1 Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island, the structure’s futuristic form has wowed guests since it opened.
Apart from an impressive architecture, the hotel has something special for race fans — with a location overlooking the site of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix, you get a room with a racetrack view.
The new W Abu Dhabi takes over the site of the former Yas Hotel and Yas Viceroy Hotel with a plethora of new spaces and the brand’s signature giant “W” at the front of the hotel.
9 – Emirates Palace
The palatial Emirates Palace is easily the most famous building in Abu Dhabi — recognisable by its massive domed atrium, currently the largest in the world. The hotel first opened its doors to guests in 2005. Since then, it has been frequented by many high-profile celebrities, politicians, diplomats and the country’s ruling elite. Notable features here include everything from a marina to beautiful gardens, suites reserved exclusively for the country’s governing sheikhs and even a gold-dispensing vending machine.
The interiors are also just as impressive. The hotel is bedecked with 86,000 sq.ft. of 22-carat gold leaf. Inspired by the golden sands of the nearby deserts, the opulent theme is consistent across the grand hallways.
Apart from its architecture, the Emirates Palace is also one of the most expensive hotels to have ever been built — with a construction cost estimated at a whopping $3 billion. Hailed as one of the best 5-star hotels in the world, the Emirates Palace features around 394 rooms and suites.
10 – Qasr Al Watan
Another famous building in Abu Dhabi popular with visitors is the Qasr Al Watan. The attraction opened its doors to the public in 2019. The building is housed in the Presidential Palace compound. And while the 380,000 sq.mt. structure isn’t the primary residence of the President of the UAE, it does serve as a working palace and plays host to official state visits.
Located in Ras Al Akhdar, Qasr Al Watan lies adjacent to the Emirates Palace. After visitors purchase their tickets they are taken to the palace grounds via shuttle bus.
Fountains, overflowing pools and beautifully sculptured gardens add a welcoming charm to the place. The palace is constructed from limestone and granite, built to last centuries. But not even its white exterior, landscaped gardens and multi-domed sight will prepare you from the breathtaking spectacle that awaits within. The Great Hall in particular is mesmerising with its gold and earth-toned architecture. Another notable feature in the palace is an impressively intricate art installation dubbed the “Power of Words” and an immense library with over 50,000 books.
11 – Qasr Al Hosn
The Qasr Al Hosn, the oldest stone building in the emirate, opened as a museum in 2018 with much fanfare. It has attracted many tourists since then and has become one of the most famous buildings in Abu Dhabi.
Formerly known as the Al Hosn Palace, the Qasr Al Hosn plays a vital role in the capital’s history. The building was the city’s first permanent structure as a watchtower. Moreover, it was also home to Abu Dhabi’s ruling family since the 18th century and the seat of the city’s government. Additionally, it housed several important buildings like the House of Artisans, Cultural Complex and the National Consultative Council.
Now known as the Qasr Al Hosn Museum, the structure is located near the Etisalat Headquarters and Mall World Trade Centre.
12 – Louvre Abu Dhabi
Ever wanted to visit the Louvre museum in Paris? The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the next best thing, with a structure that is just as impressive as the creative works housed in the building. The result of a partnership between the UAE and France, the structure is a marvel of French design with subtle odes to Arabic heritage.
Topped by a massive signature dome of overlapping geometrical lattices, weighing 7,500 tons, the building was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. The building opened to the public in 2017 but plans for its construction started back in 2007 when the Louvre Museum in Paris signed a $525M deal that allowed Abu Dhabi’s government to use the trademarked “Louvre” name for its new museum.
Built according to the vision of architect Jean Nouvel, the Louvre Abu Dhabi features an extensive collection of artwork from the East and West. The museum looks like a floating dome when seen from a distance. The web-patterned roof protects visitors from the sun — creating a “rain of light” effect reminiscent of walking under palm trees during the day.
This brings us to the end of our guide to famous buildings in Abu Dhabi. Check out the most famous buildings in Dubai during your next trip to the UAE. For more information on the best tourist attractions in the country, stay tuned to MyBayut.