- Burj Khalifa
- Burj Al Arab
- Cayan Tower
- Jumeirah Emirates Towers
- JW Marriott Marquis
- Jumeirah Beach Hotel
- Princess Tower
- Atlantis, The Palm
- The Dubai Mall
From luxury properties to massive malls and dazzling skyscrapers, the emirate of Dubai has come a long way from its beginnings as a fishing village decades ago.
Today, the emirate’s architectural wonders are considered nothing short of a marvel worldwide. From the world’s only 7-star hotel to the world’s tallest tower and a palatial hotel based on a lost paradise, here is our take on the most famous buildings in Dubai.
The most famous buildings in Dubai
For decades, most of Dubai’s buildings were a few stories high. That changed with the discovery of oil in the 1960s and the country used its newfound wealth to put itself on the map as a luxury tourist destination.
Now, the city is home to magnificent feats of architecture like some of the world’s tallest hotels, the biggest retail mall and the iconic Palm Jumeirah. If you are thinking of visiting the emirate soon, make sure you include a trip to these famous buildings in Dubai in your travel bucket list.
1 – Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa takes the top spot for famous places in Dubai — and for good reason. Rising at 2716.5 feet and more than 160 storeys tall, the iconic tower is the tallest building in the world. It was developed by Emaar Properties and was formerly known as Burj Dubai. Excavation for the project began in 2004 and the tower officially opened to the public in 2010.
The towering skyscraper builds on the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to improve Dubai’s status as a globally acclaimed tourist destination. The fact that it’s located in Downtown Dubai, the city’s hottest tourist hub, only adds to its value.
As the tallest free-standing structure in the world, the Burj Khalifa is a praiseworthy addition to the emirate’s real estate and tourism landscape. Apart from its status as a popular landmark, it also serves as a residential building. Those living in the apartments in the Burj Khalifa have access to amenities like a swimming pool, gym facilities, sauna and steam rooms. Additionally, visitors can also indulge in the many things to do in the Burj Khalifa.
2 – Burj Al Arab
With its unique sail shape, the 321-metre tall Burj Al Arab quickly became one of the city’s most recognisable buildings when it was completed. Construction officially began in 1994. It took two years to create the island that the hotel sits on and three years to build the structure itself. It is estimated that the project engaged over 2,000 workers at most times. Moreover, over 250 designers from Dubai, the US and UK took part in the project.
The Burj Al Arab was the third-largest hotel in the world at the time of its launch. It’s already 14 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Situated 280 metres offshore, visitors and residents can access it via a curving bridge that connects to the mainland.
Apart from leisure activities, staying here is like a dream come true. Its duplex suites offer astounding views of the Arabian Gulf. One of the units, the Royal Suite, features a full-sized jacuzzi, cinema room, master bathrooms and even a library. A self-styled 7-star hotel, it certainly lives up to its name as one of the best tourist attractions in Dubai. There are loads of activities in the Burj Al Arab to keep visitors entertained too.
3 – Dubai World Trade Centre
Historically known as the Sheikh Rashid Tower, the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) has played a vital role in the growth of the city’s business tourism and trade since its inauguration in 1979. Located adjacent to Sheikh Zayed Road in the heart of the emirate’s financial district, DWTC is a purpose-built tower meant for exhibitions and conventions.
The 38-storey complex was also the first tallest building in the UAE, a title that it held from 1979 to 1999. While it no longer retains this title, the complex is still seen as a monument to the expansion of international trade in the Middle East. Its importance to the country’s history is apparent considering that it is also featured on the AED 100 currency note in the UAE.
The DWTC building is a mixed-use development which covers over 1.3 million sq.ft. of event and exhibition space. Additionally, it also has residential properties including serviced apartments and duplexes. There are several apartments for rent in the World Trade Centre. These come with benefits like a swimming pool, jacuzzis and facilities for differently-abled guests.
4 – Cayan Tower
If you saw Cayan Tower and did a double-take, you aren’t alone. The tower’s eye-popping twisted shape is enough to make anyone whip out their phone and start snapping away. Standing at 307 metres, the building’s impressive helical shape sets it apart from other buildings on the city’s famed waterfront. All of its 73 floors were designed according to the same plan. However, each floor is rotated 1.2 degrees clockwise from the one below it. The result is that the building turns at 90 degrees over its entire length.
Apart from being a visual masterpiece, Cayan Tower’s unique helix shape also has a more practical purpose —the design keeps the interior protected from direct sunlight while reducing the impact of strong winds.
Located in Dubai Marina, Cayan Tower is one of the tallest residential buildings in Dubai. Available as furnished and unfurnished units, the flats for rent in Cayan Tower come with a host of benefits like swimming pool access and a 24-hour concierge service.
5 – Jumeirah Emirates Towers
By now, you might have realised that symmetry isn’t exactly what architects always envision while creating some of Dubai’s most famous buildings in Dubai. Jumeirah Emirates Towers is one of them. The structure features two towers, one of which is taller than the other. The towers have a distinct equilateral triangle and spire each. Additionally, they have a covering of silver aluminium panels with copper and silver reflective glass.
Jumeirah Emirates Towers is located on Sheikh Zayed Road in the centre of the city’s business district between the Dubai International Convention Centre and Exhibition Halls and the DIFC Dubai. Construction of the towers commenced in 1996, with the hotel officially opening to the public in the year 2000.
Built according to traditional Islamic themes, the structure features a 309m hotel tower and 355m office tower. A central podium connects the two, known as The Boulevard.
6 – JW Marriott Marquis
Identical in design, the JW Marriott Marquis towers is another famous structure in Dubai. Built on a seven-storey podium, the buildings include 804 hotel rooms. It also has around 14 F&B outlets, a business centre, rooftop bar, retail outlets, health club, gym, swimming pool, meeting rooms and an expansive banquet hall. The structure’s design depicts a date palm, as was intended by Archgroup Consultants, the firm that designed the project.
The twin-tower skyscraper was officially completed in 2012 and held the distinction of being the tallest hotel in the world till 2018. Rising 72 storeys, the building overlooks the iconic Business Bay and Burj Khalifa. Apart from its scale, the hotel also houses one of the largest spas in Dubai which includes landscaped gardens and a swimming pool.
7 – Jumeirah Beach Hotel
One of the most iconic building designs in Dubai is that of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. The structure’s signature design is hard to miss. Depicting a cresting wave, the structure made a splash with onlookers when it opened in 1997. Despite its sweeping form, it is still massively tall, with a height of 341 feet.
The 26-storey structure stands 104m high, 275m long and has 26 storeys. Moreover, the aluminium and blue-plated glass used in its construction give the project a surreal fluidity, much like a breaking wave the design is inspired by.
One of many Jumeirah hotels in Dubai, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel was designed by Atkins, the firm that was also behind the Dubai Opera. The building has a prime location on the beach with visitors having access to over 33,800 metres of sandy shore.
8 – Princess Tower
Another former tallest building in Dubai is the Princess Tower. Developed by Tameer Holding Investment, the 414-metre residential tower rises a whopping 101 storeys and also has six basement floors. The famous tower in Dubai was recognised by the Guinness World Records and the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats (CTBUH) as the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 2012. While the structure does not retain the status, it still evokes an air of awe.
The Princess Tower houses 763 residential units including duplexes, penthouses, 1, 2 and 3-bedroom apartments. A look at apartments in Princess Tower can give you a better idea of available living accommodations here.
9 – Atlantis, The Palm
The Atlantis hotel at the Palm Jumeirah secured Dubai’s position as a leading resort destination when it opened back in 2008. It was the first luxury hotel built on the man-made archipelago and is located at its apex. The resort’s look is based on the mythical Atlantis with a few Arabic elements visible in the architecture. Renting in Atlantis The Palm might be a bit pricy, but well worth the expense.
The famous building in Dubai features around 1,500 rooms in two accommodation wings — including the West and East Tower that are connected via the Royal Bridge Suite. Apart from lavish living accommodations, the place is also home to the Aquaventure Waterpark and the popular Lost Chambers Aquarium which features more than 65,000 marine species including stingrays and sharks.
10 – The Dubai Mall
A trip to Dubai is incomplete without a visit to The Dubai Mall. At 5.9 million sq.ft., it’s one of the largest malls in the world. That is the size of more than 50 football fields! A flagship mega-project by Emaar Properties, The Dubai Mall opened in 2008 in Downtown Dubai and is situated adjacent to the Burj Khalifa. It fast became the city’s most visited entertainment destinations and has an annual turnover of 80 million visitors.
Apart from its size and 1,300+ retail outlets, the mall is home to the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, which is also one of the largest in the world. It also features a 250-room luxury hotel, an Olympic-sized ice rink with a seating capacity of 350, two anchor department stores and over 200 F&B outlets. Additionally, there is also a Reel Cinemas multiplex located at the second level — featuring 26 screens.
That’s all for our review of the best famous buildings in Dubai. If you like to live the high life, consider the best buildings to rent apartments in Dubai. For a more interesting experience, check out the unique residential buildings in Dubai. For more insight into how the city’s famous skyline came to be, check out the history of Dubai architecture.
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