Before visiting the United Arab Emirates, I had seen pictures of the architecture and was blow away. When you boast the tallest building in the world you have a lot to live up to. When you see the Burj Khalifa in pictures it looks so impressive, but how would it stand up in person?
Leaving the airport, I caught a glimpse of the glistening tower. And to be honest, I wasn’t that impressed. It was just another building standing next to a mass of other skyscrapers. But I was wrong. I was too far away to realize its true magnitude.
One afternoon I had lunch at the Dubai Mall at a little Lebanese stall. Eating outdoors in a little terrace area, I was able to look up at the Burj Khalifa in close distance for the first time. I had to almost arch my neck back to look at the top. Finally I could see the true scale of this behemoth of a building. And it was so shiny that that it appeared to be covered in a million tiny mirrors.
Finally, I was able to actually go inside! One night, while walking through Dubai Mall, we purchased tickets (about $40 USD) to “At the Top- Burj Khalifa”, the official name of the attraction. You could feel your ears pop as you ascended story after story on the elevator. Once you finally get to the top, just walking all the way up to the glass windows is scary. Everyone was pressed up against the back wall, as if they’d be safer if the glass mysteriously broke. It’s as if we all thought we were in the Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol where Tom Cruise scales the building. It’s hard to believe that the building is not even ten years old. I would call it a beautiful, glistening giant in the sky.
Burj Al Arab
You may have seen the Burj Al Arab in pictures, not knowing where is was located or what type of building it was. Even my own father had it as the cover of one of his architecture books, not knowing where it was from. It’s located on its own man-made island, separated by the mainland. From what I’ve heard and seen online the rooms are quite impressive. I did not have the opportunity to go inside as it is a hotel and I had neither a room booked or a restaurant reservation. The Burj Al Arab is one of few 7 star hotels in the world. If I remember correctly, there are only two in the world, the other being in China.
From looking at it, you can’t help but notice the nautical feel. The whole building is designed to look like the sail of a sailboat. As someone who works in the sailing industry, it had extra meaning, as I could see the little details that really brought it to life.
Besides the most famous buildings are many other beautiful buildings that litter the skyline. One thing you’ll notice is cranes as far as the eye can see. So much is still under construction. And as you drive to the desert you’ll see so many “coming soon” signs.
The houses in Dubai are something to write home about. Not everyone who lives in Dubai is rich, but the Emirati natives enjoy their share of free luxury housing from the government. The houses were large and extravagant and were meant to stand out. Each one was complete with its Land Rover or Ferrari in the driveway.
I would love to come back 10 years from now and see the ever changing skyline of Dubai.