The buildings of Dubai are as spectacular as you have heard…one more amazing than the other

A view from the top of the Burj Khalifa

This is will be my last article about Dubai…after all, I am already on the Seabourn Spirit but there is still a bit more that needs to be written about the fascinating city of Dubai.

My first article told you a bit about old Dubai, including the museum, the gold souk and the history of the Creek.

The famous Burj al Arab on Jumeirah Beach

Then I wrote about the two new wonders of Dubai…the Burj Khalifa tower and the inside ski resort. Now I want to talk about the rest of the “new” Dubai. This is the Dubai that you are hearing about in the news…the fabulous buildings of Dubai.

For many years now, the Burj al Arab…also known as “The Sail”…has been the city’s most famous building and over the years has become a symbol for the city. To its credit, it is a “seven-star” hotel and it has all kinds of glamorous accoutrements, like a tennis court and helipad at the very top. And this is the building that Tiger Woods hit golf balls off the roof.

But I rather think its fame is going to be eclipsed by the new Burj Khalifa and all of the other magnificent buildings that are under construction. Until now, the most fantastic architecture I had ever seen was in Shanghai…but Dubai is really a playground for those who design buildings. It seems that anything goes…there are several buildings currently under construction that seem to defy gravity, many featuring huge curved sides.

Most of these buildings are located along “The Beach,” that is, the edge of the Arabian Sea. And it is here that you will find the famous islands that Dubai has created out of reclaimed land/sand. For now, the only one of these complexes that is underway is The Palm, a large island shaped like a palm. It is full of residences and hotels, the most famous of which is The Atlantis Dubai, which crowns the top of the island. There are two other Palm-like developments planned…and a huge development of all islands called “The World,” which for now is just a clump of dredged materials.

The economic crisis dramatically slowed the building of those huge developments, but construction is still going on 24/7 on many other buildings. Some years ago it was said that a quarter of the world’s construction cranes were working in Dubai. That probably isn’t the case now, but there are still plenty of them to be seen.

All that said, Dubai is really a very manageable city. It is not all that large and there are still many undeveloped areas. It is a fun place for tourists to explore. However, do know that Islam is the state religion and visitors must be respectful and modestly dressed when visiting mosques. Many local women still opt to “cover” themselves with long robes called abayas and headscarves, however, it is not required. Also, alcohol is usually only served in hotels and a few special tourist areas, so it is expensive…$10 for a glass of wine is standard. For more information on travel to Dubai, visit

Tomorrow: We set sail on the Seabourn Spirit

About Cynthia Boal Janssens

Cynthia Boal Janssens is the editor and chief blogger for She is a former national president of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). She has sailed on over 40 cruises all over the world.

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