As I mentioned in my first blog, Dubai’s amazing buildings mesmerised me from my first visit. I’ve called the city home for almost 15 years and during that time, I’ve been lucky enough to witness impressive new construction projects growing up around me. From the world’s tallest building to elegant structures that nod to the UAE’s great heritage, I’ve chosen my six favourite buildings in Dubai.
1. Burj Al Arab Hotel, Jumeirah, Dubai
Postcard-perfect (captured by yours truly) the Burj Al Arab hotel is a symbol of Dubai. It’s not only stunning to look at but also boasts building and engineering features that make it unique.
Conceived by architect Tom Wright, the outstanding architectural achievement was designed as a global icon, which also needed to stand against the coastal winds and intense sandstorms Dubai endures.
I’ve always admired the sail-shaped structure, the most distinctive feature of Burj Al Arab, inspired by a traditional Arabian dhow. Capturing all 321 metres of its curvilinear form through a lens was a highpoint of my architectural photography career.
The dynamic colour-changing lighting system that illuminates the exterior every night enhances its visual appeal even further. It is a building I will never tire of seeing nor photographing.
2. Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road
A winning design by NORR Group architect Hazel Wong, the dynamic composition is based on an equilateral triangle form that not only stabilises the structure but integrates Islamic symbolism.
Capturing the sleek lines of Emirates Towers is a joy, and I have regularly been invited to update Jumeirah’s portfolio with visually striking images of the buildings.
3. Burj Khalifa, Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard
The unprecedented verticality and slender profile make this building a knock-out from a visual perspective. Burj Khalifa is not just the world’s tallest building, it is a testament to human ingenuity and engineering prowess.
When I first arrived in the UAE, this landmark building was two years from completion, yet already a striking presence on the Dubai skyline. Delving deeper into its design, I discovered the distinct geometrical patterns it is based on are inspired by Islamic art and architecture.
Photographing Burj Khalifa on its completion added my name to the footnotes of this
4. Emirates NBD Headquarters, Baniyas Road
Although this is one of Dubai’s older buildings, constructed in 1998, it still shimmers in the sun as a beacon of progress and modernity. The architecture seamlessly blends influences of Islamic design with contemporary elements.
Norr Group won international awards for this building, which is clad in gold and granite with an intelligent façade that optimises energy consumption. The design also suggests the curved hull of a dhow, symbolic of Dubai’s long-standing trading tradition.
Catching sight of this building at sunset is breath-taking, and I delight in the light show it provides.
5. Dubai Creek & Yacht Club, Port Saeed
Staying with the sail-inspired design that reflects the UAE’s fishing and pearl diving tradition, Dubai Creek & Yacht Club has a unique silhouette, best viewed from the older part of the city, with skyscrapers in the background.
The combination of modern and traditional architectural elements used in its design make it an elegant structure, and I particularly like the contrast of its white faces with the large glass windows. This image was perfectly timed to capture its spellbinding quality at dusk.
6. Museum of the Future, Sheikh Zayed Road
The most recently completed building on the list, Museum of the Future has been described as one of the world’s most complex structures, which makes it an unsurprising addition to an architectural photographer’s list of favourite buildings.
The exterior façade of the building comprises windows that display an Arabic poem on Dubai’s future by its ruler, Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. There are quotes from the Prime Minister of the UAE and calligraphy by Emirati artist, Matar Bin Lahej.
Museum of the Future was designed by Kila Design, who invited me to photograph it, and engineered by Buro Happold.