Dubai was a strategic trading hub and port in the late 18th century but has grown into a global city through its ambitious construction projects. From manmade islands on a grand scale to the world’s tallest buildings, Dubai’s architecture deserves the attention it demands from the rest of the world.
Below are some of its most important landmarks and architectural achievements, and not all belong to the 21st century!
One of the oldest residential areas in Dubai is the Al Bastakiya district. Its narrow lanes, called sikkas, are lined with courtyard houses topped with wind towers to catch the breeze before the days of air-conditioning. It’s a pleasant area to explore on foot as no traffic is allowed in this historic area.
Burj Al Arab
Famous for its sail-like architecture, the Burj Al Arab is marketed as the world’s only 7 star hotel. This incredible structure was constructed on a manmade island and is connected to Jumeirah Beach by a curved bridge. Completed in 1999, it reputedly cost $650 million to build.
Deira Clock Tower
Built in 1963, the iconic Deira Clock Tower is a major landmark in eastern Dubai, marking the approach to the Al Maktoum Bridge. It was sited at the convergence of all major routes into Dubai before the recent boom in infrastructure.
The Palm Trilogy
Viewed from the sky, the Palm Trilogy is a trio of manmade islands with some of Dubai’s most expensive residential properties on them. The Palm Jebel Ali, Palm Deira and the original Palm Jumeirah were created to offer luxury hotels and an opulent lifestyle with marinas, beautiful beaches and sport amenities.
The Palm Islands were hailed as the eighth wonder of the world. The palm fronds of the islands created plenty of beach and waterfront real estate to meet Dubai’s growing demand.
Similar in concept to the Palm Trilogy, the World is a collection of 300 manmade islands, each shaped from dredged sand to represent a specific country or continent. This landmark project is a pioneer for future eco-tourism projects. The islands cater for four categories of real estate: private residences, luxury resorts, estate homes and private communities.
The beautiful Jumeirah Mosque is one of the most photographed landmarks in Dubai city. Its tall white minarets and distinctive dome signify it as a traditional mosque built in Fatimid style. The central prayer hall has a domed hypostyle roof supported by many columns.
Jumeirah Mosque is unusual as it one of the few mosques to allow non-Muslims to enter. Tours are offered daily with a guide who explains the traditions and beliefs of the Muslim faith including the five pillars of Islam and the purpose of abayas.
Union House once housed the office of Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. The building is best known as the site where the documents were signed to mark the formation of the UAE Emirates in 1972. The 120-metre tall gold flagpole replaced the original flagpole where the UAE flag was first raised.
When you handle UAE Dirham currency, you will see one of these famous landmarks on the 50 dirham banknote!