Discover Dubai In 10 Iconic Buildings

Sunset over Dubais Skyline
Sunset over Dubai's Skyline | © the_dead_pixel/Flickr
Erina Baftiroska

Throughout the years Dubai has amazed the world with its rapid development, shortly becoming one of the world’s most architecturally innovative cities. Daring to go to great lengths (and heights, literally), Dubai continues its pursuit of intensive urban expansion. In recent years, some of the most iconic – and tall – buildings in the world have sprung up in Dubai, but several iconic structures around the city are a truly alluring draw. Read this list for your guide to the must-see show-stoppers and inspirational historical buildings around the city.

1. Burj Khalifa


Burj Khalifa, Downtown, Dubai
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
Opened in 2010, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest and highest occupied building in the world, standing at 829 meters tall. It stands in the heart of Dubai’s Downtown District, surrounded by the Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountain and the newly opened Dubai Opera. Designed by Adrian Smith, the tower includes a residential section, dining options and the Armani Hotel. You can visit the tower at any time of the day but a visit to The Top Observatory Deck will cost you.

2. Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House


Located in the Al Shindagha area, this house was built in 1896 and served as a residential home of the Al Maktoum ruling family. The strategically situated residence overlooks the Arabian Gulf and Deria and Bur Dubai – historically, the main districts of trade in the city. Today the house is a museum which holds some of Dubai’s most historical artifacts. It’s open to visitors every day, offering an opportunity to learn more about the UAE’s history.

3. Burj Al Arab


Sumptuous king bedroom with purple curtains, mirror on ceiling and royal blue carpet at Burj Al Arab, Dubai
Courtesy of Burj Al Arab /
Built in 1999, this sail-shaped hotel stands off the coast of Dubai at 321 meters high, the third-tallest hotel in the world. Situated on its own man-made island 280 meters away from the Jumeirah Beach coast, the hotel includes 28 double-story floors, celebrity chef dining options, a private helipad at 210 meters and recently introduced its private beach bar. Entrance to the hotel is restricted but head over to Sunset beach for the perfect photo opportunity.

4. Jumeirah Beach Hotel


Ocean suite at Jumeirah Beach Hotel
Courtesy of Jumeirah Beach Hotel /

A family favorite, this wave-shaped hotel was opened in 1997 on the coast of Jumeirah Beach, at the foot of the Burj Al Arab. Home to the famous Wild Wadi waterpark, the hotel consists of hotel rooms, beachfront villas, dining options and famous nightlife entertainment such as Cove Beach, 360 and Mahiki. Entry to the hotel is free but make sure you try one of the many dining options or entertainment activities.

5. Dubai World Trade Centre

Dubai World Trade Centre

Amongst one of Dubai’s first multi-story buildings, the Dubai World Trade Centre tower was originally built in 1978 and stands at 149 meters tall. Today, the DWTC complex is complete with office and residential towers as well as dining options and entertainment arenas.

Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Rd, Dubai, U.A.E. +971 4 332 1000

6. Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club

Amusement Park, Park, Sports Center

A Seaplane parked in Dubai
© Oliver Förstner / Alamy Stock Photo

Built in 1993, Dubai’s first Golf and Yacht club is an iconic structure situated along the coast of Deira. The distinctive sail-shaped golf house is a favorite amongst residents thanks to its serene environment, state-of the art facilities and restaurants. Expansion plans have brought in new residential suites and the Park Hyatt Hotel. Take a day and relax while watching the city’s skyline from the old part of Dubai.

7. Index Tower


Opened in 2011, this 328 meter-tall tower is located in Dubai’s Financial Center District, just opposite the Dubai Mall. The multi-use building houses both residential and office apartments and is among the first in the city to embrace an environmental strategy, through which it significantly lowers the need and use of energy for its residents. The tower’s detailed positioning along the east-west axis enables the structure to shelter itself from harsh sunlight, therefore keeping the building at a constant cool temperature.

8. Emirates Towers


Emirates Towers

Another symbol for the city, the two towers are situated along The Boulevard, a complex of shopping and dining destinations. The two towers are separated into the 355 meter-tall Emirates Office Tower and the 305 meter-tall Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel. Known for their unique triangular shape, the towers are easy to access for guests and visitors. For one of the best views of the towers, head over to the Dubai International Financial Centre district.

Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Rd, Dubai, U.A.E. +971 4 330 0000

9. Etisalat Tower 2

Etisalat Tower 2

The UAE’s leading telecommunications company, Etisalat, was the first (and for a long time, the only) service company. With the company’s growth and significance, the office buildings spread throughout the Emirates share the same distinctive globe-shaped antenna feature. The latest addition was built in 2007 and stands at 185 meters tall at the World Trade Centre Roundabout, separating the old and new parts of the city.

Etisalat Tower 2, Dubai, U.A.E.

10. Cayan Tower

Cayan Tower

Opened in 2013, the Cayan Tower’s unique ‘twisted’ design has brought it international fame. Situated in the Dubai Marina, the 306 meter residential tower has quickly become a photographer’s favorite and an icon in Dubai’s skyline.

Cayan Tower, Dubai Marina, Dubai, U.A.E. +971 4 369 9910

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