Dubai is an architectural wonder, quite unlike any other place on the planet. With cloud-piercing skyscrapers, sprawling man-made archipelagos and outrageously glamorous hotels, this particular Arab Emirate resembles a futuristic, space-age metropolis. Its almost inconceivable constructions and their unfathomable scales have surpassed almost all existing architectural feats, and are a testament to the infiniteness of human ambition and ingenuity.
Dubai’s pioneering architectural research was initially funded by the exportation of oil, though this now represents just a small fraction of the city’s revenue. Tourism, real estate and financial services now account for the vast majority of its wealth – much of which has been poured into the design and development of many of the world’s officially ‘tallest’, ‘largest’, ‘greatest’ man-made constructions, which have re-directed the emirate’s economy towards tourism.
Arguably the most magnificent structure is the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on Earth which spears into the clouds at an incredible 828 meters. Its design was inspired by the naturally symmetrical hymenocallis desert flower – a concept also incorporated into the 27-acre-park surrounding the skyscraper, as well as the adjacent Dubai Fountain (the largest fountain in the world) which is accompanied by 6600 lights, 25 colored projectors and a sinuous network of water jets.
The Dubai Mall, in addition to being the biggest shopping centre on the planet (with a total area of 1,124,000 meters squared) is somewhat a microcosm of the city itself, comprising 150 restaurants as well as an aquarium, zoo, theme park, ice-rink, waterfall and its own luxury hotel.
It is the Burj Al Arab– a 280-meter-tall building which stands upon its own artificial island, that might just be the most luxurious hotel in the universe. It has been granted a 7-star status (the only hotel to have ever been given such an accolade) and boasts one of the most expensive suites, at a whopping $18,716 a night.
In 2001, construction began on Palm Jumeirah- a sprawling collection of artificial, interconnected islands resembling a palm-tree, that extend out from the city’s coastline into the Persian Gulf. Several residential properties line its fronds whilst the iconic Atlantis Hotel sits upon its apex. The Palm Jumeirah is in fact one of three ‘palms’ under construction in Dubai, with the development of Palm Deira and Palm Jebel Ali currently on hold – both of which will be larger than Jumeirah upon completion.