Dubai: A look back

In the last fifteen years, the world has been privy to some of Dubai’s most astounding progressions – from Burj Khalifa, to Meydan racecourse, and even a record-breaking firework display. In no particular order, Vision picks ten of the best

Hamdan Sports Complex

The Hamdan Sports Complex
The Hamdan Sports Complex

Replete with moving pools and a synthetic ‘skin’ roof, this teardrop-shaped stadium has the potential to be recognized alongside Olympic arenas. The $US300mn (Dh1.1bn) complex, which has hosted a FINA Swimming Championships, as well as last week’s BWF Finals (insert hyperlink), has two Olympic-size 50m swimming pools and the technology to turn them into 25m pools at the flick of a switch. An advanced pool-covering system allows the pools to be converted into courts for sports such as basketball, tennis and volleyball, with capacity for 15,000 spectators.

 Atlantis, The Palm 

Atlantis, The Palm
Atlantis, The Palm

“The islands of Atlantis, which once had an extent greater than that of Libya and Asia; and, when afterward sunk by an earthquake, became an impassable barrier of mud to voyagers sailing from hence to the ocean.” Above is Plato’s description of Atlantis – a mammoth, watery kingdom that has been replicated in Atlantis, The Palm in an undeniably extravagant manner. Towering above landscaped tropical gardens, the iconic Arabian structure forms the focal point of the man-made island Palm Jumeirah.

Meydan racecourse

Meydan Racecourse
Meydan Racecourse

Racing and the horse have long captured the hearts of Emiratis, and Meydan racecourse, which opened in 2010 lives up to the historic importance of the sport in Dubai. The course can accommodate over 60,000 spectators in a 1 mile long grandstand, who fill the area to capacity for big events such as the Dubai World Cup. The course has expanded beyond horseracing; when not used for races, it serves as a conference facility, and the development also includes a 9-hole golf course.

Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport

Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport
Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport

Terminal 3 significantly ramped up operations at Dubai International Airport, increasing the airport's maximum passenger capacity annually by 47 million and bringing the total annual capacity up to 75 million passengers. It became operational in October 2008, with the Emirates Airline flight from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, being the first flight to arrive at the new terminal.

A whole lot of world records

Burj Al Arab
A base jump off of Burj Khalifa

“We don’t like to scare ourselves, that’s not the goal,” said Fred Fugen. The more vertiginously challenged might disagree with his assertion; after all, the Frenchman did break a world record by completing the highest base jump ever (off of Burj Khalifa). The stunt was just one in a long line that the UAE has embraced, from throwing swords, to the longest graffiti wall, to the world’s biggest gold ring. Worth a mention too is the largest ever fireworks display – half a million pyrotechnics lit up Dubai's coastline to bring in the new year of 2013.

Burj Khalifa

Burj Al Arab
Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa is the centerpiece of Downtown Dubai, a development along Sheikh Zayed Road, near Dubai's main business district. The design of the world’s tallest building – which opened in 2010 – updates the spiral tower, with gleaming steel thinning out to a point at the top of the tower. Gordon Gill, of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, said of an award that the building won: "There was discussion amongst members of the jury that the existing ‘Best Tall Building of the Year’ award was not really appropriate for Burj Khalifa. We are talking about a building here that has changed the landscape of what is possible in architecture a building that became internationally recognised as an icon long before it was even completed.”

he tram

Dubai's tram network
Dubai's tram network

The Dubai Tram opened in November 2014 to much fanfare, and appears to already be an integral part of the Dubai transport network. Linking the Dubai Metro and the Palm Monorail, the tram runs along Al Sufouh Road and Jumeirah Beach Road from Mall of the Emirates at one end to the Dubai Marina.

The DIFC

DIFC
Dubai International Financial Centre

Dubai’s International Financial Centre’s key remit is to provide a platform for business and financial institutions to reach into and out of the emerging markets of the region. Containing mammoth institutions from across the globe – the centre holds four major Chinese banks – an environment has been created of creativity and innovation, as well as a strong infrastructure necessary to compete with other international centres.

The Expo bid

Expo bid for 2020
Expo bid for 2020

"Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” was the motto that secured a huge success for the UAE – it was the winning theme of the country’s bid to host the World Expo in Dubai in 2020.  This will be the first time that the World Expo is staged in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA), which is momentous, considering that the event has been taking place since 1851. The UAE has a lot to say about connecting minds; an ethos that reflects its success in pioneering new paths of development and innovation.

Burj Al Arab

Burj Al Arab
Burj Al Arab

‘The Sail’, as it is known to locals, epitomises the glamorous image of Dubai known across the globe. Built in 1999, the hotel was one of the first landmarks on the skyline of the emirate, and remains a huge draw for the tourism business, its opulent interior and fantastic views enticing visitors.  But it is not all glamour – based at the Burj is The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project, a project which has seen the release of over 560 rescued sea turtles back into Dubai’s waters.