Dubai is one of the most eccentric and surreal cities in the world: the construction of its most famous buildings has seen the participation of important architects who have left their mark and imprinted an indelible memory in the minds of visitors.
Listed below are the 10 most famous buildings in Dubai: the buildings that have made the UAE city so well known. Defining their general characteristics can be useful to give an initial definition of the different structures and spaces of Dubai.
Burj Khalifa (the world's tallest skyscraper)
In first place we find Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest skyscraper, formerly known as Burj Dubai. Its height is an impressive 828m, divided into some 160 different floors. In 2004, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Vice President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai) approached Emaar Properties to start work on the construction of the then Burj Dubai.
The aim was to enhance Dubai's reputation by transforming the Burj Khalifa into one of the world's most acclaimed tourist destinations.
Burj Al Arab
Among the most famous skyscrapers in Dubai is certainly the Burj Al Arab (also known as the 'Arabian Tower'), which, although it does not hold the record as the city's tallest skyscraper, has become the undisputed symbol of Dubai with its unique sail-like structure.
It took two years to create the island on which the building is located, and another three years to complete the structure itself. It is estimated that more than 2,000 workers and 250 designers from Dubai, the United States and the United Kingdom were involved in the building project.
DWTC (Dubai World Trade Centre)
Located in the heart of the emirate's financial district, the DWTC is a large purpose-built skyscraper for exhibitions and conventions. The 38-storey complex is an integral part of Dubai's history, so much so that it appears on the UAE's AED 100 note. Apart from the space dedicated to events, exhibitions and offices, there are also residential properties including flats, residences and duplexes.
The impressive helical shape of the Cayan Tower makes it easily stand out from all the other skyscrapers on Dubai's famous waterfront. The skyscraper consists of 73 floors, designed so that each floor is rotated 1.2 degrees clockwise in relation to the one below. The result is that the building turns 90 degrees along its entire length.
In addition to being aesthetically beautiful, the helicoidal shape was made with a practical and safety purpose in mind: the design ensures that the skyscraper never comes into contact with direct sunlight, also reducing the impact of strong winds.
Jumeirah Emirates Towers
The Jumeirah Emirates Towers are also known as the twin towers of Dubai. They are located on Sheikh Zayed Road in the centre of Dubai's business district. Both have been covered in aluminium panels with copper detailing and reflective glass, making them even more unique and special.
JW Marriot Marquis
The JW Marriott Marquis skyscraper is characterised by the presence of two imposing towers, which include as many as 804 hotel rooms. The design of this building depicts a date palm, as desired by Archgroup Consultants, the firm that designed the project.
Jumeirah Beach Hotel
The Jumeirah Beach Hotel is easily distinguishable even from a distance: the design of the building depicts a cresting wave that slowly widens and rises to 275m. The aluminium and blue plated glass used in its construction give the design a surreal fluidity, just like a crashing wave.
The 414-metre-high Princess Tower has held the record as the world's tallest tower for some years. Inside the tower are floors containing some 760 residential units including duplexes, penthouses, 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom flats.
Atlantis, The Palm
The Atlantis Hotel on Palm Jumeirah was the first luxury hotel built on the artificial archipelago. The appearance of the resort is based on the myth of Atlantis, to which typical elements of Arabic architecture were added. The famous building has about 1,500 rooms in two accommodation wings - the West Tower and the East Tower - which are connected via the Royal Bridge Suite.
The Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall is one of the largest shopping malls in the world. Adjacent to the Burj Khalifa, the building has quickly become Dubai's most visited entertainment destination and has an annual turnover of 80 million visitors.
The mall houses the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, some 250 hotel rooms, an Olympic-sized ice rink, two department stores and over 200 retail outlets.