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Home / ANALYSIS / Special report: The UAE's most iconic projects

Special report: The UAE's most iconic projects

by Yamurai Zendera on Dec 1, 2013




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Mall of the Emirates, Dubai

Soon after opening in 2005, the ambitious Mall of the Emirates was walking off with a series of awards for its design and – at the time – unique mixture of shops, eateries and a ski-dome. While it has been usurped by the Dubai Mall for the title of largest shopping mall in the GCC, Mall of the Emirates remains one of the city of Dubai’s most spectacular features. Built into the Al Barsha district of Dubai, the Mall of Emirates, developed by Majid Al Futtaim Properties and designed by the American architectural firm, F+A Architects, was also a key milestone in the rapid expansion of the southern half of Dubai in the late 2000s.

In September, Majid Al Futtain announced it was spending about AED1bn ($272.3m) expanding the mall. It was last expanded in 2010 to include more fashion outlets.

Developer: Majid Al Futtaim Properties
Architects: F+A Architects
Completed: 2005

Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai

The hotel, which opened in 1997, is operated by the Dubai-based hotelier Jumeirah Group. The beachfront area where the Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach Hotel are located was previously called Chicago Beach. The hotel is located on an island of reclaimed land offshore of the beach of the former Chicago Beach Hotel. Standing 93 metres high and 275 metres long, it contains 598 ocean-view rooms and suites, and 19 traditional Arabian styled beachside villas.

Architect: Atkins
Developer: Jumeirah Group

Emirates Towers, Dubai

In conjunction with the opening of the Burj Al Arab four months earlier, the completion of the 309m-tall Emirates Towers on 15 April 2000 heralded a decade of unprecedented construction and growth for Dubai.

Emirates Towers is formed by two towers, the Emirates Office Tower and Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel. Located near to the World Trade Centre on the Sheikh Zayed Road, the towers are linked by the two-storey The Boulevard shopping mall.

Designed by architect Hazel Wong, the 355m Emirates Office Tower, which hosts an antenna spire, was the 10th tallest building in the world at the time of its opening. Wong said that she goal was to create something that was simple and elegant and over a decade later her creation remains one of Dubai’s most significant and well-loved buildings.

Completed: 2000
Architect Hazel: W.S. Wong Norr
Norr Group Consultants Int. Ltd.
Main contractor: Ssang-Yong Engineering & Construction
Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co. Ltd.
Murray & Roberts

Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai

Construction on the Madinat Jumeirah resort first began in 2002 with developer and architect Mirage Mille taking 36 months to complete and open the first phase of the resort: the Mina A’ Salam (The Harbour of Peace) boutique hotel.

The underlying concept was to recreate life as it used to be for residents along Dubai Creek, complete with waterways, abras, wind towers and a bustling souk.

Located next to the iconic Burj Al Arab, and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Madinat is a unique Dubai mixture of Disney-inspired design combined with historically and culturally-aware architecture. The Madinat Jumeirah waterways are home to a turtle sanctuary which aims to house injured turtles prior to release back into the wild. The turtle pen is located at Mina a’Salam and is directly in between Al Muna and Zheng He’s restaurants.

The development is yet another of UAE’s success stories currently undergoing expansion, with plans for a $680m upgrade to add a fourth phase to the project facing the Burj al Arab announced in November last year.

Completed: 2004
Developer: Jumeirah Group

Jebel Ali Free Zone and Port, Dubai

A pivotal development in the establishment of the UAE as a trading destination, Jebel Ali’s Free Zone (JAFZA) and port form one of the world’s major shipping and export hubs.

Construction on the port began in the late 1970’s along with Jebel Ali Village (finished in 1977), which was initially used to house construction workers of the port.

Officially established in 1979, Jebel Ali Port is the largest port in the Middle East and one of the biggest man-made ports ever built.

The new expansion officially opened in June 2013, gives the port an additional capacity of one million TEU to take the total capacity at the port to 15m TEU. Together with the new Container Terminal 3, which is now under construction, Jebel Ali Port will reach 19m TEU capacity by 2014 and will be able to handle 10 of the giant new generation vessels at the same time.

From humble beginnings in 1985, today, JAFZA is a dynamic base for thousands of businesses, from over 100 countries, sustaining over 135,000 jobs and attracting more than 20% of the UAE’s foreign direct investment; all the while exceeding 50% of Dubai’s total exports, with a value for trade of $69bn.



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