The United Arab Emirates is a highly respected country in the world of contemporary architecture. In particular, the UAE has a reputation for pushing the limits when it comes to the height and lavish nature of its skyscrapers.
The government places great value on infrastructure development, with an estimated $300 billion to be invested in projects by 2030. Much of this development will take the form of hotels and other tourist amenities, as the country is expected to welcome 20 million visitors by 2020.
While the UAE is currently preparing for an influx of tourism, some of the country’s most impressive, existing infrastructure is residential and office-oriented. These four buildings are some of the most impressive in the UAE—and indeed, the entire world.
No discussion of UAE infrastructure would be complete without mention of the Burj Khalifa. “Burj” means “tower” in Arabic, which is why this word often accompanies the name of the UAE’s tallest structures.
The Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest freestanding structure, at just over 2,700 feet. It opened in January 2010 and rises more than 160 stories above the streets in Dubai.
The bottom eight floors are home to the Armani Hotel Dubai, developed by iconic fashion designer Giorgio Armani, with the hotel’s suites on floors 38 and 39. The Burj Khalifa also houses 900 residences, a fine dining restaurant called At.Mosphere on level 122, and the world’s highest open-air observation deck, At the Top. Residents can make use of an on-site gourmet grocery store, library, and other amenities.
The Burj Khalifa was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP, a Chicago-based firm. The Y-shaped structure underwent dozens of tests to ensure its safety in high winds, and its construction used more than 300,000 cubic meters of concrete and almost 40,000 tons of steel.
The Burj Khalifa has beaten other records, too, besides the record for the world’s tallest building. One such record is for the highest attachment of an exterior made of glass and aluminum. The construction process surpassed another record in 2007 when concrete was pumped up 601 vertical meters to reinforce the core walls of the structure.
In addition, one of the most surprising facts about the world’s tallest building is the relative quickness and efficiency of the construction process, which lasted only six years from the initial excavation to the opening ceremony in January 2010.
Burj Al Arab
Also located in Dubai, the Burj Al Arab is a striking building that’s almost as recognizable as the Burj Khalifa. Topping out far below the Burj Khalifa, the Burj Al Arab stretches just over 1,000 feet tall, with 60 stories and a roof height of about 689 feet. Perhaps one of the tower’s most identifiable elements is its silhouette, which resembles a ship’s sail. It’s a fitting design for the building, which sits along the shores of the Persian Gulf. Construction for the $230 million structure began in 1994 and was completed in about five years.
The Burj Al Arab’s impressive qualities are not limited to the building’s exterior. Inside, the tower is home to one of the world’s tallest atriums, reaching up 180 meters high. This atrium welcomes guests to what has been voted one of the world’s most luxurious hotels, the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah.
Each of the hotel’s 202 suites stretch across two stories, with the smallest suite providing just under 2,000 square feet of space for guests. The Burj Al Arab Jumeirah also boasts nine restaurants and bars within it, along with a variety of luxury perks like chauffeured Rolls Royce vehicles and a private beach.
Aldar Properties Headquarters
At just over 360 feet tall, the Aldar Properties Headquarters in Abu Dhabi isn’t comparable to the UAE’s towers in terms of height. It is the building’s unique circular design that earns it recognition as one of the country’s most impressive structures.
The Aldar Properties Headquarters was completed in 2010, three years after construction began. The building process employed the use of some recycled materials, including concrete, glass, and steel. Nearly $275 million was spent constructing the expressive, futuristic structure.
One of downtown Dubai’s many skyscrapers, the Princess Tower has a height of 1,358 feet, with 101 floors above ground and six below.
Construction of the Princess Tower cost over $215 million and began in 2006. When completed in 2012, the tower set the record for the tallest building in the world used for entirely residential purposes. While that title has since been stolen by New York City’s 432 Park Avenue, Princess Tower remains the second-tallest building in Dubai after the Burj Khalifa.
From hotels to apartments to office headquarters, the UAE’s buildings are some of the world’s tallest and most awe-inspiring. The country is the perfect travel destination for architecture lovers.