Dubai from the sky

Our city looks pretty impressive from the ground, but when viewed from above its architectural marvels are enough to take your breath away

The area from JLT to The Palm is still very much under construction, as seen from the varying colours of 
the JLT lakes (the one on the right appears to be muddied with construction). Notice the empty island in the sea towards the top left-hand side, near JBR, where Nakheel’s now-cancelled Dubai Promendade was to be.
The area from JLT to The Palm is still very much under construction, as seen from the varying colours of the JLT lakes (the one on the right appears to be muddied with construction). Notice the empty island in the sea towards the top left-hand side, near JBR, where Nakheel’s now-cancelled Dubai Promendade was to be.
Pulling back from JLT reveals the beginnings of the mostly finished Jumeirah Islands, a 300-hectare development of luxury villas.
Pulling back from JLT reveals the beginnings of the mostly finished Jumeirah Islands, a 300-hectare development of luxury villas.
The many different landscapes in this area, looking over Emirates Hills towards Dubai Marina, are startling – desert, motorway, high-rise towers, low-rise residential communities, sea and a man-made island.
The many different landscapes in this area, looking over Emirates Hills towards Dubai Marina, are startling – desert, motorway, high-rise towers, low-rise residential communities, sea and a man-made island.
Safa Park is an oasis of lush green in the centre of the city. Before the park was first developed in 1975, the space was apparently a makeshift suburb where illegal immigrants lived.
Safa Park is an oasis of lush green in the centre of the city. Before the park was first developed in 1975, the space was apparently a makeshift suburb where illegal immigrants lived.
The refreshingly low-rise areas of Jumeirah and Satwa are full of empty plots of land. Some may be graveyards (which are traditionally bare in the UAE), while some may be sites that were demolished for the now on-hold Jumeirah Garden City development.
The refreshingly low-rise areas of Jumeirah and Satwa are full of empty plots of land. Some may be graveyards (which are traditionally bare in the UAE), while some may be sites that were demolished for the now on-hold Jumeirah Garden City development.
Sheikh Zayed Road has changed beyond recognition in the past 10 years. Dubai Internet City metro station (in the foreground) is flanked by two older villa developments: a decade ago they were ‘in the middle of nowhere’; they’re now surrounded by world-class golf courses, business hubs and hotels.
Sheikh Zayed Road has changed beyond recognition in the past 10 years. Dubai Internet City metro station (in the foreground) is flanked by two older villa developments: a decade ago they were ‘in the middle of nowhere’; they’re now surrounded by world-class golf courses, business hubs and hotels.
The Royal Amwaj Resort & Spa on the Palm Jumeirah looks almost finished. The pool appears suitably regal, as do ‘Dubai’s first over-water villas’. Book us in!
The Royal Amwaj Resort & Spa on the Palm Jumeirah looks almost finished. The pool appears suitably regal, as do ‘Dubai’s first over-water villas’. Book us in!
Flying over Al Sufouh Road offers a view of the beach palaces, as well as the Burj Al Arab. The 321m-high building, which boasts a 180m-high atrium, never fails to impress.
Flying over Al Sufouh Road offers a view of the beach palaces, as well as the Burj Al Arab. The 321m-high building, which boasts a 180m-high atrium, never fails to impress.
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When I was a child, I was fascinated by aquatic planes. Half sea creature, half bird, it was my dream to fly in one – so, when I was given the chance to view Dubai from the air, and in a seaplane, no less, I jumped at the opportunity. People usually brave tiny planes to see glaciers and mountains, but in Dubai it’s the concrete and sand man-made marvels that make the jaw drop.

The 40-minute ‘Burj to Burj’ trip covers Dubai’s first, sail-shaped Burj and continues towards the really, really tall one. Our pilot, Andrew Kennedy, is a reliable-looking Fijian chap who has been flying for 13 years, and is able to reassure even the most nervous fliers.

As soon as we take off, I notice how attractive Dubai is from the sky, away from noise of the roads and construction. Starting at Jebel Ali, we see the suburb’s empty Palm and the ports, before hovering over Sheikh Zayed Road, the Marina and Emirates Hills (which is unbelievably green – imagine the DEWA bills). We then zoom across the Palm Jumeirah and the majestic Burj Al Arab, which seems even more regal from above.
The World Islands look like shipping hazards, although seeing the former show home now transformed into a private residence on the only developed island is a rare treat.

Next comes Jumeirah. Safa Park seems to take up half the suburb; I now feel much more righteous about my jaunts around it. We’re only able to view the Burj Khalifa from afar because of a new no-fly zone that has been imposed around it, although just behind the tower Dubai’s metropolis melts into desert near Business Bay, making for a spellbinding view. But the real highlight is the trip’s finale, flying over the dry docks and seeing the beautiful wooden boats in miniature. It’s this snapshot that will remain in my memory.

My only disappointment is how quickly the flight ends; in hindsight, I wish I’d spent less time obsessively snapping pictures and instead focused on taking in the vista of our spectacular city.
The 40-minute flight from Jebel Ali Golf Resort to Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club costs Dhs1,225 per person (www.seawings.ae).

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