Burj Al Arab & Burj Khalifa

We celebrate Dubai's two iconic towers ahead of UAE's 40th


We wanted to run two magazine covers this issue. So we pondered what it is that Dubai residents feel most passionately about… which led us to the famous two ‘Burjs’. Now synonymous with our city across the world, these architectural wonders are two of the region’s most photographed buildings – so we struck upon the idea of running a separate cover for each building, in time for the 40th UAE National Day.

Have you picked up a copy of the Burj Khalifa cover but want to collect the Burj Al Arab issue too? Or perhaps you’re holding one of our hotel copies, revealing both buildings on the front? Head to your nearest supermarket or bookstore and you’ll find the special Burj Khalifa issue, at 940mm high, nine of which contain winning golden tickets for experiences in the building, and our gold laminated Burj Al Arab issue, two copies of which hold golden tickets to stay in the ‘seven-star’ hotel. Found a store that’s sold out? Call us on 04 444 3559 and we’ll make sure you can get hold of both copies.

The Burj Al Arab

It’s safe to say there is no hotel in the world like the Burj Al Arab (nor one that is more photographed). Designed by British architect Tom Wright and completed in 1999, the Burj (or ‘Arabian Tower’ in English) rose to fame hand in hand with Dubai’s growing global reputation. At 321m tall it is now the fourth highest hotel in the world, but the only one designed to look like the billowing sail of a dhow – and the first building in Dubai, years before the Palm Jumeirah, to be located on its own artificial island.

How was this feat achieved? Builders first drove 250 40m-long concrete piles into the sand, then engineers created a layer of large rocks, which were encircled with a concrete honeycomb pattern to protect the foundation from erosion. It took three years to reclaim the land from the sea, but less than three years to construct the building.

Driving over the curved bridge into the ‘Burj sphere’ is like visiting Charlie’s Chocolate Factory: other buildings have gone in and out of fashion over the years, but the Burj Al Arab remains the most exclusive venue in the city (it has hosted the likes of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Nelson Mandela, Fairuz, and Queen Rania and King Abdullah of Jordan, among others). Inside is fine-dining restaurant Al Muntaha, 200m above sea level; seafood venue Al Mahara, which translates as ‘Oyster’ and boasts a 990,000-litre seawater aquarium, and renowned far-east Asian eatery Junsui.

The building is also home to a helipad, which hit the headlines when Andre Agassi and Roger Federer played tennis upon it in 2008. And don’t forget the hotel spa, which boasts some of the finest views in the city, or, of course, the rooms themselves: 27 double-storey floors accommodate 202 suites, which come with butler service, ceiling mirrors and some with revolving beds. While the Burj Al Arab’s exterior may be one of the most stylish in existence, the interior is perhaps the most memorable, with its bold colour scheme and unashamed glitz. Even today, 12 years on, there is no hotel that epitomises Dubai like this. one.

The Burj Khalifa

Everyone who was there, or who watched it on TV around the world, will remember the firework-fuelled opening of the Burj Khalifa on January 4, 2010. Following a time of international insecurity at the height of the 2009 financial crisis, Khalifa’s opening was a sure sign of confidence: it told the world that exciting, innovative architectural projects were still possible, and that Dubai was still able to complete them with finesse.

At 828m high, the Burj Khalifa remains the tallest building in the world, the tallest free-standing structure in the world, and the tallest man-made structure in the world, with the largest number of storeys (200 plus with 160 habitable storeys), the highest occupied floor (level 160), the highest observation deck with an outdoor terrace (located on level 124), and the highest swimming pool (76th floor). It also boasts the tallest service elevator (504 metres), and apparently the fastest-travelling lift (10 metres per second). And that’s without mentioning The Dubai Fountain, the world’s tallest performing fountain, which sits at the foot of the building and can reach 150m high, or the fact that this record-breaking building is built to resemble the desert flower, Hymenocallis, from an aerial view.

Aside from all these world-beating stats, the Burj Khalifa houses fashion designer Giorgio Armani’s first hotel and residences, which take up 19 floors and boast one lounge, eight restaurants, a retail store and a bespoke spa. The tower is also home to public viewing deck At the Top, plus At.mosphere, the world’s highest restaurant (442m high), and numerous office spaces.

Wondering what’s right at the top, just below the 200m-high spire? The top four floors are reserved for communications and broadcasting (and, we presume, those hypnotising lasers that dance across the city most nights, making us feel as though we’re living in Gotham City). Since its opening nearly two years ago, ‘Spiderman’ has climbed up it, and Tom Cruise has abseiled down it. Who knows the records it will break during Dubai’s 40th year?

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