WanderlustReflecting on the beauty of Dubai

With its captivating mix of old and new architectural wonders and stunning natural landscapes, we take a look at what makes this modern-day oasis in the desert so dazzling

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Renowned for its soaring skyscrapers and white-sand beaches, there is a mesmeric beauty to Dubai. Rising shimmering out of the desert plains the juxtaposition between the power of nature and the might of technology couldn’t be more potent. This is our homage to one of the world’s most iconic cities as we reflect on the beauty of the city we love and call home: Dubai.

 

City of glass and steel

Only a few decades ago, when Dubai was just a sleepy fishing village on the edge of the Arabian Gulf, few people could have imagined it would become home to one of the world’s tallest buildings. But, since the 828m-high Burj Khalifa opened in 2010, the city’s skyline has seen more and more dramatic structures make their mark – from the twisting Cayan Tower in Dubai Marina to the twin points of the Emirates Towers in the financial district.

Just a few months before the glittering Burj Khalifa opened, another instantly recognisable building – Burj Al Arab – started welcoming guests to its unparalleled luxury. Designed to resemble a ship’s sail, its breathtakingly modern design echoes the traditional dhows that once glided across the Gulf carrying goods to far off lands.

Downtown Dubai at sunrise

Soon to be joined by the breath-taking Dubai Creek Tower (a dizzying 1,300m-high), Dubai’s modern marvels promise an ever-changing panorama that’s best seen from any number of observation decks, sky-high restaurants and bars. Gaze at these awesome feats of architecture and engineering emerging from morning mists, shimmering in the midday sun and turning into twinkly beacons come dusk.

 

Atmospheric heritage

At the feet of the sky-piercing structures, Dubai is scattered with a number of chic urban spaces that explore the city’s creative side; from the inspiring public art installations and studios of Dubai Design District to Alserkal Avenue’s light-filled galleries and buzzing cafes, and the street art-strewn Dubai Walls.

It’s not all glass and steel and modern architecture. The traditional facades of an earlier Dubai sit resplendent in their own atmospheric beauty. Like the Dubai Museum, housed in the 18th-century Al Fahidi Fort, which offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the people who have called the desert home over the past four millennia. Next door, the preserved remains of a section of the ancient Wall of Dubai urges visitors to contemplate a 19th-century version of the city. Meanwhile, a stroll through the maze of winding alleyways that make up the surrounding historic district reveals sand-coloured houses with wind towers – a centuries-old means of keeping interiors cool during the city’s scorching summer months.

Mosque in Dubai

Meanwhile, the once sought-after residential address among the ruling sheiks – Shindagha – is being lovingly restored to its former glory. As well as preserving much of the city’s cultural legacy, its location on Dubai Creek means the pretty coral-hued buildings beautifully complement the sparkling cerulean waters of the Gulf.

Sparkling seas

Dubai is surrounded by the glittering waters of the Gulf, which helps give the city those immense skies and incredible sense of light. Water is also a key means of transport whether that’s setting sail along the coast or traversing Dubai Creek on a traditional wooden abra. 

A boat sailing to a souk

Water has also helped Dubai spring into life, despite being surrounded by rolling sand dunes, playing a huge part in sustaining the area’s flora and fauna. From the manicured lawns and boating lake of Safa Park, where towering palm trees provide welcome shade, to the majestic herons and salmon-pink flamingos that migrate each year to wade in the wetlands of Ras al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary. Then there’s the horticultural creativity of Dubai Miracle Garden and its 250 million plants that have been carefully nurtured to create a sea of colourful flower beds and walkways.

Dubai is an extraordinary city and a testament to how man and nature can work so harmoniously together to create a truly unique and iconic destination.