Dubai! Every one of us must have heard this name once in our lifetime. It may be about ultramodern architecture, the lively nightlife or even the luxury shopping shown in the media. It has always made us wonder how a city surrounded by desert can be developed so much. The area is only about 35 sq. km, with the skyline showing assorted skyscrapers of the city. As time passed, Dubai started to expand its territory into the waters creating the first-ever artificial island, “The World Island”, depicting the world map. The islands are named after many countries. The primary source of income in the early time was Oil exports (i.e., from the 1960s to 1990s). Later on, as time went by, trade and tourism became the core income of the city.

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The Museum of the Future in Dubai_©Giuseppe Cacace / Getty Images

Al Fahidi Fort is the oldest building in Dubai, and it was constructed before the oil fields were discovered. There was a time when the city’s economy depended on pearl fishing, and they needed to protect themselves from the other tribes. This created the necessity for building the fort to provide them with security. This fort was erected in 1787 and had interesting materials that were used in that process. The materials used in the walls were corals and shells which were cemented by the lime. They have also used solid teak, iron nails, brass plates and so on. These old buildings and the old city have unique features because of the climatic conditions. Such features are – the walls were thick to prevent heat from entering inside, the windows were less and small, the centre courtyard had a small decorative pool to create a microclimate within the building, and the alleys were narrow to impede the hot air from flowing.

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Al Fahidi Fort, Dubai_©www.egypttoursplus.com

Al Fahidi Fort is the oldest building in Dubai and it was constructed before the oil fields were discovered. There was a time when the city’s economy was dependent on pearl fishing and they needed to protect themselves from the other tribes. This created the necessity for building the fort to provide them with security. This fort was erected in 1787 and had interesting materials that were used in that process. The materials used in the walls were corals and shells which were cemented by the lime. They have also used solid teak, iron nails, brass plates and so on. These old buildings and the old city have unique features because of the climatic conditions. Such features are – the walls were thick to prevent heat from entering inside, the windows were less and small, the centre courtyard had a small decorative pool to create a microclimate within the building, and the alleys were narrow to impede the hot air from flowing.

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Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood_©www.uaedubaivisa.co.uk

The invention is like wind, with no barrier, no limits and never-ending. That is how the skyscrapers came into Dubai like the wind. The first building to venture into something new and break from all the traditional ways of construction was the Dubai World Trade Centre. It was an extraordinary example to show that a building can be both functional and aesthetically appealing. This construction was started in 1979, setting a milestone for a new era. The Dubai World Trade Centre is 184 m in height and has 38 floors making it on the list of tallest buildings. The main purpose of this building is to conduct events and exhibitions. This became an iconic building in Dubai, thus paving the way for more skyscrapers. Even though the buildings that followed were not up to that height but had different and innovative designs. The skyline began to grow with more skyscrapers such as Sheraton Dubai Creek, Nasser Rashid Lootah Building, Deira tower, Sheikh Ahmed tower, Sheikh Marian tower, and Al Reem tower. These are the main buildings (skyscrapers) that were developed from 1979 to 1996.

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An aerial shot of Dubai World Trade Centre taken at some point in the late 1970s or early 1980s_©www.thenationalnews.com
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Dubai Airport in the 1970s_©www.thenationalnews.com

In 1997, Another iconic building was developed under the name of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Since the hotel is located on Jumeirah Beach, it is named after the beach. The structure is a breakthrough from the typical needle-like structure of a skyscraper. Having a core structure in the middle, two sides of the building are elongated with a slope to the ground. It has a height of 103.9m, containing 26 floors above the ground. Later in 1999, Burj Al Arab was constructed – A luxury hotel with water around it. This building stands on an artificial island 280m away from Jumeirah Beach. A separate curved bridge connects the hotel to the mainland. The concept behind the structure of this hotel is to mimic the sail of the ship. The hotel is 210m high and has 56 floors, of which 3 are below the ground. To construct this hotel, over 70,000 m3 of concrete and 9,000 tons of steel were used. To keep the foundation from erosion, a ground layer of large rocks is circled with concrete in a honeycomb pattern. 

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Burj Al Arab Jumeirah (left side) and jumeirah beach hotel (right side)_©www.jumeirah.com

After these unique buildings, many modern skyscrapers with different styles were constructed. Atlantis, The Palm – just like the name, something from the past was brought into life. The traditional traits of the old building were visible in this building. In Palm Jumeirah, the building stands with a height of 93m containing 23 floors above the ground level. This building came into existence in the year 2008, along with many other eye-catching skyscrapers. This is the first resort to be built on this island and the concept was based on the myth of Atlantis. The underwater rooms are named after the great god of Greek and Roman – Poseidon and Neptune. They also have a Dolphin Bay where 28 bottlenose dolphins were shipped from Solomon Island.

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Atlantis, The Palm_©www.kayak.co.in

A creation by Architect Adrian Smith, Burj Khalifa still stands one among the tallest buildings in the world. As the technology and architecture developed hand in hand, in 2010 the Great Burj Khalifa was created with a height of 828m. It has 163 floors of which 9 are service floors. Due to its height, the tip of the tower can be seen up to 95km. In the following years, Cayan tower came into being. The tower gave an example that a building can be twisted. The Cayan Tower is a single twisted tower with a height of 306m and has 73 floors above the ground. The future that shines on Dubai, is in the form of Signature tower designed by Zaha Hadid. It shows that it can be other than a straight line skyscraper. The Signature tower contains 3 towers with the highest point at 350.8m and each tower has 79, 65, and 52 floors respectively. Even though the rapid growth of Dubai is in the last 48 years, the first development that helped them protect themselves from the other tribes should be marked as the starting point for the architectural development. As development is a never-ending process, the architectural development of Dubai continues. 

Burj Khalifa_©www.pexels.com

References:

  1. Frommers.com. n.d. Architecture in Dubai | Frommer’s. [online] 

Available at: <https://www.frommers.com/destinations/dubai/in-depth/architecture#:~:text=Dubai’s%20original%20architecture%2C%20dating%20from,crucial%20considerations%20in%20building%20styles.> [Accessed 6 June 2022].

  1. A blog about homes, trends, tips & life in the UAE | MyBayut. n.d. The History of Dubai’s Modern Architecture-MyBayut. [online] 

Available at: <https://www.bayut.com/mybayut/history-of-dubai-architecture/> [Accessed 6 June 2022].

  1. M.youtube.com. n.d. [online] 

Available at: <https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=m_fmXF_1Pjs> [Accessed 6 June 2022].

  1. Egypt Tours Plus. n.d. Al Fahidi Fort – Dubai’s Oldest Building And Most Famous Museum. [online] 

Available at: <https://www.egypttoursplus.com/al-fahidi-fort-and-dubai-museum/> [Accessed 6 June 2022].

Author

Nivedhakavyasree is a young Architect who believes that her passion for writing and her love for architecture can be brought together. Bringing out a fictitious idea into everyone's vision is one of her areas of expertise. For her, the search for new is like a never-ending thirst.

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