Dubai : From the eye of Travelling Architect

It’s my second time in Dubai. And each time.. Dubai never fails to impress me. The pace at which Dubai is making progress is mind boggling. Dubai promotes itself as the city of the future: striving to offer everything in one place.. everything that other cities may not be able to offer .. and at the same time everything that is built needs to be the best, the biggest, the shiniest, the most expensive, the first-ever-of-its-kind, etc. They had every mega structures and ambitious project in Dubai.. just name it.. This fact had attracted many well-known architects around the world to came and showcase their works in Dubai, although most of the works remains as a fantasy proposal on the paper. Being home to some of the most amazing futuristic mega projects in the world, as an architect, its very interesting for me to came and visit these collection of architectural wonders under one roof. It seems that every architectural creation in the making in Dubai is in a sort of contest to outscore the other!

  • The Burj Khalifa.. tretching to 828 meters, Burj Khalifa is recognized as the tallest building and manmade structure in the world. The tower also contains the world’s highest mosque on the 158th floor (of 160), the world’s highest swimming pool, on the 76th floor, and the world’s highest viewing platform, on the 124th floor.
  • The Dubai Mall.. the largest shoping mall in the world..
  • The Dubai Fountain.. the largest dancing fountain illuminated by 6,600 lights and 25 color projectors that create a visual spectrum of over 1,000 abstract attractions. Its beam of light can be seen from over 20 miles away, and is visible from space, making it the brightest spot in the Middle East.,
  • Dubai Aquarium..  the largest suspended aquarium in the world located at the center of the enormous Dubai Mall. This wonder provides unique views of 33,000 submarine animals behind the world’s largest acrylic viewing panel and the 48-metre long aquarium walk-through tunnel.
  • The Burj al-Arab hotel.. the worlds tallest hotel & considered the only ‘7 star’ hotel and the most luxurious hotel in the world,
  • The Palm Islands trio.. being the largest artificial island in the world that even can be seen from the space and advertised can be seen from the moon,
  • The World Islands.. 300 artificialy created island in the shape of the world. Its Earth’s shape is visible only by satellite or from the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burg Khalifa.
  • The Ski Dubai.. the largest indoor ski in the world located inside the Mall of the Emirates, offers the incredible opportunity to enjoy real snow in the desert all year round.
  • The Dubai Marina.. the largest man-made marina in the world, an artificial canal city, where the waters of the Persian Gulf were brought into the 3 km site.
  • The Infinity Tower is the world’s tallest high-rise building with a twist of 90˚.. 80-storey high residential tower with not a single structural pillar anywhere inside the building..
  • The Dubai Waterfront.. when its completed will become the largest waferfront in the world
  • Dubailand.: presently under construction, Dubailand is a theme park with an area covering 107 sq mile and once completed it will be the largest in its category displacing Walt Disney World in Orlando from its current title. As a matter of fact, Dubailand is twice as the size of its nearest and ruling rival.

at the Burj Khalifa

inside the Dubai Mall

at dubai aquarium

And you need really thick wallet to enjoy these attractions. You can just visit from far… or pay a large sum to really enjoy the architectural wonders in Dubai. You can view the Burj Al Arab from the Jumeirah Beach or Souk Medinat Jumeirah, or but a booked 300AED breakfast buffet at one of the BurJ Al-Arab restaurant will allow you to enter into the Burj Al-Arab, ..  You can just view the Burj Khalifa from outside or went up to the viewing platform by booking entrance to At the Top Burj Khalifa that will cost you AED125, or AED400 for an immediate entry… A day entrance to the Aquaventure Park at the Atlantis Palm Jumeirah will set you back at AED 300… An entrance to the the Ski Dubai will cost you more than AED200..  However.. One good thing that I notice is, although we need to pay expensive fees, but I feel the service and overall experience that we gain is worth the money that we had to pay. Each places was well maintain, clean and the food was good..

I remember we paid 300aed for a buffet breakfast in order to enter and view the magnificent interior of Burj Al-Arab

I can hang-out for hours inside the Lost Chamber of Atlantis..

Besides this, what does Dubai have to offer to an average tourist ?? There are some places for sure, but sadly to my opinion was one of limited choices. For a tourist, Dubai can be enchanting with glittering towers, wide roads, a beach and latest cars flying in new areas of Dubai. But that’s about it. Yes there are malls, and then there are malls, and then there are some more malls, at one point, every mall tends to be the same. . It has the biggest malls, with biggest brands but it is fun only if you have the biggest wallet in your pocket, otherwise all you will be let with will be an agony of how many things you can never own!!!. Almost everything here is man-made.. Its a nicely planned city with landscaping along most major roads but in the end Dubai remains a concrete jungle with just a collection of buildings.

I really hope that Dubai will keep the charming old part of Dubai such as the Souks, the creeks.. and its traditional urban fabric at old Deira and old Bur Dubai. I love walking along the small streets, venture its small alleys and be surprised of what can we found in those areas. I could see that the local authority had started to refurbished and renovated the old Dubai, and at some points, it feels too fake and artificial.

In addition, all these megastructures required a lot of manpower to built it.. to operate it.. As the result, many foreign workers was hired to work in Dubai. With only 20% local people stays in Dubai, I really don’t feel that I’m visiting an arabian country. At some point, I thought that I’m in Philipines… yeah.. philipinos are everywhere.. At the hotel, at the local grocery shop, at the restaurants, at the shopping mall, at the attractions.. Even in when riding the metro, most of my rides was full with Philipines people chit-chatting in their native language. This scenarios really reminded me about our own country, Malaysia.. Kuala Lumpur is flooded with foreign workers that I foresee this scenarios can happen if we didn’t tackle it now.

Another thing that I like about Dubai is its new Metro system. The Dubai Metro is a very fast and cheap way to travel around Dubai city. Though they have only 2 metro lines as of now, it is well designed and takes you to many attractions of Dubai.. such as from the Airport, to Burj Khalifa, The Emirates Mall, The Dubai Marina,The Old Souks at Bur Dubai & Deira, the creek.. and some others.. I liked the fact that it is so clean and views along the route are great.  they even have a ladies only car on the metro which makes it even more comfortable for women and children. Overall, the price was inexpensive and the Metro was convenient and easy to navigate. I heard in future, they are planning the expand the metro and hopefully it can reached Abu Dhabi in future.

Generally, Dubai is extremely easy to navigate around, with its multi-nationals living in Dubai, almost everyone speaks English and it is a very unique place and worth seeing.

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