The Most Impressive Buildings in the UAE

The Emirates Palace Hotel
The Emirates Palace Hotel | Flickr
Photo of Jessica Harn
23 October 2017

While the country itself is only 46 years old and has an image of being a desert wasteland outside of the city of Dubai, the United Arab Emirates has developed incredibly fast since independence, but has done well in preserving its more ancient historical buildings. The UAE is the place to go for a truly immersive mix of both the old and new, and to enjoy architecture at its finest. Here are some of the most impressive buildings in the UAE.

The Burj Khalifa

Map View
The Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa | ©Many Wonderful Artists/flickr| Flickr
The tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa is seen from literally anywhere in Dubai—it can even be seen from the neighboring city of Sharjah! This impressive building is so tall that if at the top on a cloudy day, you won’t be able to see the city below, instead you’ll be above the clouds!

Burj Al-Arab

The third tallest hotel in the world, this luxurious hotel is one of the most expensive places to stay in the world. Built in the shape of a sail on the popular Jumeriah Beach in Dubai, it’s bound to take your breath away. Beware however, that this is a “7 star” hotel, so if you’re not dressed fancy enough they won’t let you in!

Jumeirah Road, Umm Suqeim 3, Dubai

American University of Sharjah

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  • Said to be the Oxford of the Middle East, this university is located in the city of Sharjah, and is home to the brightest students and professors from around the world. The architecture is what truly impresses though, and it’s no wonder the students feel motivated to study. Walk along its white-washed marble courtyards, tall columns that remind you of ancient Greek palaces, and impressive library with its massive dome to feel inspired.


    Hotel, Resort, Spa Hotel
    Map View
    Atlantis, the Palm, Dubai, UAE.
    Atlantis, the Palm is an iconic landmark in Dubai | Courtesy of Atlantis, the Palm /
    Another truly amazing building is the Atlantis Hotel, located on the Palm in Dubai. Stretched out across the horizon, it is built to resemble an enormous gateway into the emerald-green beaches, and boasts an entire waterpark, dolphin bay, an aquarium, and diving experiences inside the hotel itself.

    The Dubai Mall

    Aquarium, Cinema
    Map View
    Reel Cinemas, The Dubai Mall
    Reel Cinemas, The Dubai Mall | © Emaar Malls
    The biggest mall in the world, the Dubai Mall is a must-visit for those who want to experience the grandeur of Dubai in one go. With its own ice rink, cinema, aquarium, hotel, every single brand-name possible, and taxis to take you around the mall, this place will definitely have something for everyone in your group or family.

    Dubai Marina

    One of the most affluent neighborhoods in Dubai, this is the place to go to see the most impressive skyline of Dubai and gawk at the thought that some of the richest in the world have apartments here. With a glitzy shopping boulevard, large beach, and boat cruises along the waterfront, there are plenty of activities to do while appreciating the sight of sparkling skyscrapers around you.

    Dubai Marina, Dubai

    Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

    Arguably one of the main attractions of the entire country, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (built in honor of the UAE’s father figure and founder, Sheikh Zayed), is located in the capital of Abu Dhabi. Stunning those who visit with its enormous size, sheer white marble, and gold-plated chandeliers, this mosque is one of those places you have to see while in the UAE.

    Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque | Flickr

    Emirates Palace Hotel

    Suite Hotel, Hotel, $$$
    Map View
    Emirates Palace
    Courtesy of Emirates Palace / Expedia

    Probably the most breath-taking hotel in the entire country, the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi will fulfill all your expectations of riches, gold, and extravagance of the UAE. With an enormous garden leading up to the gateway fit for a king, the inside of the hotel is the very definition of luxury. With its art gallery, huge marble staircase and dome, a café in the lobby specializing in serving gold with its coffee and sweets; you’ll feel like absolute royalty in this hotel!


    Saeed Al Maktoum House

    The historical house of former Dubai ruler Saeed Al Maktoum dating back to the 1890s, it is now part of the old quarters of the city and houses an intricate and rich museum on the ruler’s family, historical Dubai, and the cultures and traditions of the local peoples. Walk through its sandy archways and breezy corridors for a glimpse into the UAE’s impressive architecture from the past. House of Saeed Al Maktoum, Historical District, Dubai Creek, Dubai

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