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A building boom in the emirate has led to a whole host of chart breakers, in categories including highest apartment, biggest mall, and one of the world's most unique resorts.
HYDROPOLISThis hotel, the world's first underwater luxury resort, brings new meaning to the "ocean-view room." Situated 66 feet below the surface of the Persian Gulf, Hydropolis will feature 220 guest suites. Reinforced by concrete and steel, its Plexiglas walls and bubble-shaped dome ceilings offer sights of fish and other sea creatures. It's scheduled to open in late 2007. Joachim Hauser
THE PALM ISLANDSThe three artificial islands that make up the Palm (comprising the Palm Jumeirah, the Palm Jebel Ali, and the Palm Deira) are the world's biggest man-made islands. Each was built from a staggering 1 billion cubic meters of dredged sand and stone, taken from Dubai's sea bed and configured into individual islands and surrounding breakwaters. The complex will house a variety of tourist attractions, ranging from spas and diving sites to apartments and theaters. The entire complex is designed to collectively resemble a date palm tree when seen from the sky. Al Nakheel Properties
THE WORLDEver wish the world was smaller? This group of more than 250 man-made islands was designed to resemble the entire world when seen from the air. The islands, which range from 250,000 to 900,000 square feet, can be bought by individual developers or private owners -- starting at $6.85 million.
The only way to get between each island is by boat...or yacht, given the clientele. A notable engineering feat: The project incorporates two protective breakwaters to protect the islands from waves, consisting of one submerged reef (the outer breakwater) and an above-water structure (the inner breakwater). Al Nakheel Properties
SPORTS CITYA standout section of the sprawling, 3-billion-square-foot theme-park-like development known as Dubailand, Sports City will offer visitors a staggering variety of athletic venues, from elegant, gigantic stadia to state-of-the-art participatory parks for skateboarding, indoor rock climbing, and other activities. Not to mention facilities for polo, car racing, golf, and extreme sports. The stadia are designed by German architects von Gerkan, Marg & Partners, the firm behind the graceful 2004 update of Berlin's 1936 Olympic stadium. Dubailand
DUBAI MALLThirty-five million people are expected to visit the Dubai Mall, developed by Emaar Properties, during 2006, its inaugural year. There's plenty to do, since, at more than 5 million square feet, it's the biggest mall in the world. It will house 15 sub-malls, a skating rink, an aquarium, and the planet's biggest gold souk (market). DP Architects
UAE SPACEPORTWith an estimated price tag of at least $265 million, the world's first spaceport is strategically located to serve both residents and visitors to Dubai. The UAE spaceport actually falls inside the border of a nearby emirate, Ras Al-Khaimah, but it's a quick drive from Dubai, and the developer, America's Space Adventures, is clearly targeting Dubai tourists and residents.
While there's no official opening date or final design set, early renderings indicate that the spaceport will feature a triangular runway/launchpad and domed passenger terminals. Space Adventures
BURJ DUBAIThe Burj Dubai will be the world's tallest building when it opens in 2009. Its shape is inspired by the indigenous desert flowers that often appear as decorative patterns in Islamic architecture, but it also has an engineering purpose: The swirl shape ensures that the mass of the structure lessens as it reaches the top, making the structure steadier. A mixed-use building developed by Dubai's Emaar Properties, the Burj Dubai will house shops, offices, residences, and entertainment venues. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
ONE CENTRAL PARKAdding to the superlatives rising on the Dubai skyline is One Central Park, a mixed-use building that will feature the world's highest apartment. A sense of loftiness is communicated in the building's design, which places the residential section of the structure above buttressed "fins" that separate the public spaces from the private ones.
The building is also eco-friendly, as it's oriented to reduce solar gain. Taking into consideration the fact that skyscrapers tend to be inefficient in terms of energy consumption, Foster & Partners gave the building a central core that absorbs heat and a sunshade system, to reduce cooling costs. Dealing with temperature is a key design challenge within a hot desert environment. Norman Foster and Partners
DUBAI MARITIME CITYThe world's first purpose-built maritime center, a 2.27 million sq meters project divided into six precincts and catering to the needs of both domestic and international companies. The city will offer many benefits, including an educated multicultural workforce and a pro-business environment. It offers free-zone benefits and is part of the Dubai World Group, which is the holding company for Dubai Drydocks, and a host of other companies. What sets this project apart, other than its sheer size, is its ambitious attempt at integrating the maritime industry. In a sense, the Dubai Maritime City is trying to become a maritime hub, placing warehouses next to academies dedicated to all things maritime; condominiums alongside offices filled with domestic and international maritime firms.