We are on a bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, but we might as well be driving through the cover of a science fiction novel. Futuristically shaped sky scrapers clad in multi-hued glass look like spaceships docked beside the road and in the middle of it all is the metro. The angular curved stations make it look like the trains are being shot out of the station into the deepest reaches of space rather than down the strip. But this is the Middle East, home of fantastic and crazy architecture.
For decades the Middle East has been known for oil. Though the oil richness has poured untold riches into the area, many of these places have turned an eye to the future and started to create economies that will survive after the oil runs out. This has fueled a building spree across the area resulting in some truly amazing and outlandish buildings.
Tallest and Largest
Tallest skyline, biggest pool, highest water slide, largest mall, and of course the worlds tallest building. At a record 2,722 feet, the Burj Khalifa has a whole host of records, but this fits with the over the top city of Dubai. The site of a massive building spree, that has only been slowed by the global recession, Dubai is said to be home to 25% of the world’s construction cranes.
Insider Tip: You can go to the top of the Burj Khalifa - there is an observation deck - but make sure to buy your tickets 2-3 weeks ahead of time. (We tried to get tickets but they were sold out.) You can buy them online here.
Nearby Abu Dhabi isn’t as over the top as Dubai, but it does have a few highlights of its own. Better known for the Emirates Palace and gold dispensing vending machines, Abu Dhabi is also home to the Capital Gate. While the Leaning Tower of Pisa is inclined just 4 degrees, the Capital Gate leans at a much greater 18 degrees, earning it the record for world’s furthest leaning man-made tower. Beth and I had some delicious Moroccan tea and scones at the lounge on the 18th floor.
The must important factor in any real estate is always location. So what do you do when you can’t get a perfect water front space? If you have enough money, why not build your own island! All through the region are numerous “reclaimed” islands built by dredging up the sea floor.
In the middle of one of the newest reclaimed islands in Bahrain is the upcoming Four Seasons Hotel. Thanks to our friend Brian, who is the on-site architect overseeing the design and construction, we got a personal tour of the incredible new hotel at the center of the island. Shaped like a letter H, the building is made up of two towers with a block of hotel rooms suspended between them. A two story skybridge spans the very top of the towers and despite the sandstorm blowing through during our visit, we could tell that the skybridge will have a fantastic view.