Even as the city perches at the cusp of bigger accolades to line the way, a successful World Expo 2020 bid would serve as another jewel in the crown for Dubai’s victorious turn in the spotlight, which has already borne witness to a half century in landmark accomplishments.
The world’s tallest…
If Dubai is referred to as skyscraper city, then this concrete jungle has earned its title with panache.
Architectural marvels are peppered around the emirate, ruling majestically from dizzying heights, while the infrastructure grows at a rapid pace in their monolithic shadows.
Towering amidst, as the city’s pride, is the 828-metre high Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world by several metres in giddying heights.
Home to 900 studio, one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments, along with Armani Residences having 144 fully furnished private apartments, the mammoth is also home to At.mosphere, the world’s highest fine dining restaurant at level 122 and At the Top, the world’s highest observatory deck, with an outdoor terrace on level 124.
Burj Khalifa’s prestige isn’t the only badge of honour Dubai proudly showcases, with Emporis, an independent provider of building data and construction projects worldwide, attributing 10 of the tallest skyscrapers in the world from its top 50, finding a home in this emirate.
In Q4 2012, Princess Tower took home the record for being the world’s tallest residential building at 414 metres, while the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai is the world’s highest in hospitality at 355 metres.
Incidentally, the Marquis overtook the record from Rotana’s Rose Rayhaan, which stands tall at 333 metres.
For those looking for some perspective, the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai stands tall a mere 26 metres shy of the Empire State Building in New York.
The other two properties to round up the top four tallest hotels includes the Burj Al Arab, which stands at 321m, followed by the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel at 309m.
The Burj Al Arab is also counted upon as one of the only seven-star hotels in the word, oozing luxury through its cutting edge design.
However, the Burj Al Arab’s exclusivity found another contender when Atlantis The Palm threw open its doors in 2008, amidst a celebration that is marvelled over even today.
The 1,539-room, ocean-themed destination resort at the centre of the crescent of Dubai’s man made archipelago, The Palm Jumeirah, opened in a $1.5 billion (Dh5.5bn) project that saw the island’s master developer, Nakheel, beam with pride.
The resort, which has been built on a 46-hectare site, has a 17-acre waterpark and lagoons containing 65,000 marine animals.
Those who visit the Atlantis wouldn’t be amiss at marvelling the signature development that is The Palm Jumeirah.
Following a number of years of feasibility studies, the man-made island was launched in 2001, with reclamation starting in the same year.
From the end of 2006, the island’s first residences – comprising 4,000 luxury villas and apartments – were handed over during a phased period, across its two kilometre long trunk, a crown made up of 17 fronds and a surrounding crescent.
Back in 2008, when Dubai Mall threw open its doors, stories of people getting lost in its retail haven was common water cooler conversation.
Pegged as the world’s biggest shopping and entertainment centre, it did not come as a surprise to many when developer Emaar announced the Dubai Mall was set to become even bigger by one million square feet.
The expansion is set to add new hotel rooms, restaurants and shops.
“The Dubai Mall is a powerful demonstration of the competencies that Emaar has developed in retail, regarded as one of the core sectors of Dubai’s economy,” said Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, the mall developer, in a statement.
Welcoming over 54 million shoppers and tourists annually, Dubai Mall currently has over 1,200 stores and 160 food and beverage outlets with an internal floor area of 5.9m sqf and a total area of 12m sqf, making it the biggest shopping and leisure destination in the world.
“Just as the expectations of customers are changing, the retailing sector is also witnessing rapid shifts. Through our expansion programme, we will use the most advanced technologies to offer an integrated mix of retail and entertainment that will meet the requirements of our visitors,” he said.
Meanwhile, across the city’s main artery stands another accolade with Ski Dubai, the world’s first indoor snow park and ski slope that stunned critics when it brought chilly winters to sunny Dubai.
Conquering new depths
Earlier this year, Dubai also became a frontrunner in its bid to construct one of the world’s first underwater hotels.
The hotel designed by engineers from Gdańsk will be based on two discs: underwater, submerged to a depth of approximately 10 metres, which will occupy about 20 rooms; and a twin disc, which will be located above water.
Both components of the structure will be connected with strong outriggers and vertical route with elevator and stairs.
In May 2012, Drydocks World, the shipbuilding arm of Dubai World, said it has signed a deal with Big Invest Consult, a Swiss company, representative for Deep Ocean Technology, the Polish owner behind the technology and concept of Water Discus hotel, to develop underwater hotels and floating cities.
According to the deal, Drydocks and Maritime World are appointed the exclusive main contractor for the construction of the new concept hotels and cities floating in the Middle East.
Due to its unique design, Deep Ocean Technology says that Water Discus can be expanded into a bigger resort complex and can be customised to suit the surroundings and the clients.
If any changes in environmental or economic conditions occur, the Water Discus modules can be transferred to a different place. This offers a unique opportunity to live underwater on a permanent basis with unlimited options to change locations.
Dubai's goal is to present best Expo in its 150-yr history: Sheikh Ahmed