Our world consists of so many incredible mega-cities that the number has become difficult to keep track of. There are the traditional cities that have been powerhouses for decades like London, Paris, and New York. And then there are the up and coming fast risers over more recent times like Tokyo, Hong Kong and Dubai. These are the cities that have seen their economies grow because of a massive uptick in their specialized industries. They have joined the ranks of major metropolises making an impact on the world. One of them does stands out above the others in many ways because of its meteoric ascension into stardom – Dubai.
Dubai, only a couple decades ago was a desert city with a population of only 600,000 - hardly a global powerhouse. Its main economic contributor during this era was the oil industry, but its reserves were limited and its ability to produce became depleted, ultimately hurting the city’s economic growth. The city pivoted from the oil industry and set its sights on tourism and real estate.
Since then, in the early 2000’s, it has risen quickly and is now one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Its tourism has seen a boom unlike any other because of the focus it has placed on making Dubai a first class city with more to do than just about anywhere else. In less than 20 years, it has gone from a desert town with sporadic low rise buildings to a densely populated city of over 2.5 million with the tallest buildings in the world to go along with more landmarks and activities than can be counted.
Dubai has its sights set on outdoing every other city in the world when it comes to its buildings, hotels, and activities, typically employing a mentality of having “the biggest everything”. Here are 20 reasons why Dubai is taking over the world.
20 Dubai Mall - The largest in the world
Dubai is home to many world-class malls that put the average one to shame. Even their smallest is likely comparable to the better ones seen throughout the world, but nothing can quite compare to the king of them all, the Dubai Mall.
Considered the largest mall in the world, the Dubai Mall is often the most visited building in the world during some years. It surpasses the attendance of famous landmarks like Central Park, Times Square, and the Eiffel Tower, hitting its peak of 92 million visitors in 2015.
The mall is able to attract so many because of the attractions it has beyond a thousand retailers that lease space, including an aquarium, an underwater zoo, a cinema complex, a theme park, and a haunted house.
19 The Burj Khalifa - Nothing else comes close
Even though we have an entry on our list dedicated to the architecture in the city, no list of Dubai is complete without its most recognized landmark, the Burj Khalifa. At 2,722 feet tall, it is the tallest manmade structure ever built.
The height of the tower is overwhelming to anyone that gets to see it in person. It’s so tall that it actually surpasses any other structure ever built by over 600 feet, enough to fit a skyscraper in between. The tower marks the city’s entry into one of the world’s leaders in architecture and construction.
18 The Palm Islands - Proof of forward thinking
There’s no better example for why Dubai is taking over the world than the Palm Islands. A one of a kind landmark in human engineering and ingenuity, the Palm Islands truly are a wonder that brings us into the future. Unlike any other structure ever created, the Palm Islands are a series of manmade islands that sit in the ocean off the coast of Dubai.
The islands each have their own unique theme. The Palm Jumeirah, the most visited is a giant palm tree, while the Palm Jebel Ali takes on a similar design, but is not quite finished. The last island is Deira, which has been placed on hold but is slated to resemble a map of the world’s continents. In this incredible image, the Palm Jumeirah can be seen, showing how far ahead Dubai is when it comes to city design and forward thinking.
17 The Architecture - Unmatched ingenuity
Speaking of design and thinking ahead, Dubai is taking over the world in architecture as well. The city’s architects approach each project with a goal of trying to design buildings that are ahead of their time whether in the design, the engineering, or the aesthetics. Either way, they have been successful in doing so.
The Dubai Frame is a perfect example of the modern architecture, taking over the city’s skyline with its incredibly stunning and unique look, resembling a giant picture frame. It’s only one example in a city filled with skyscrapers that are the pinnacle of construction.
16 The Hotels - some of the best ever constructed
Because tourism is the leading contributor to the city’s economy, it’s a no-brainer that the hotel industry is constantly booming. With millions of visitors every year, the city has made it their intent to design and build the world’s most advanced and greatest hotels. The city includes some of the best hotels ever constructed including the Burj Al Arab and the Atlantis The Palm.
The Burj Al Arab is a stunning and impressive looking building, resembling a giant sail and sits in the ocean, making it one of the most unique hotels in the world. The city is filled with some of the most luxurious hotels with attention to detail and best in class service that surpasses what most are used to.
15 The Celebrities - a perfect A-list playground
Dubai is a haven for celebrities. The rich and famous have begun migrating to the city over the past decade since its rise to global fame to take advantage of all that it has to offer. A city built for the wealthy, it’s the perfect playground for celebs. On any given day, it is not unusual to see the Kardashians booking a suite at the Atlantis the Palms or Michael Jordan golfing in one of the many resorts throughout the city.
The number of high-end clubs in the city are numerous and are also main attractions for the famous looking to party for an entire week.
14 The Real Estate - The future of high-rise residential living
To live in Dubai is to live like royalty. It is home to some of the tallest residential towers in the world. The downtown area with the Burj Khalifa at the center has many buildings surrounding the behemoth that might look small by comparison, but on their own merits, would rank alongside some of the taller buildings in the world.
These are filled with residential apartments, condos, and lofts with some of the highest prices anywhere. The costs make it some of the most sought-after real estate in the world and it’s not just the incredible towers they are in, but the services that come with these homes including doormen, concierge, room service, private elevators and bellmen.
The future of high rise residential living is being ushered in by the people of Dubai.
13 The Growing Diversity - We flock from near and far
Unlike many other places within the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is by far one of its most diverse. As part of a country that is stricter on things like religion and culture, Dubai is actually open to many other religious practices, which has been seen as a more open invitation to people of other countries.
Only 15% of the population in the city is actually UAE nationals, while the other 85% are from outside the country, making it a very sought-after destination. Most of those who come from outside are from Asia with a growing presence from the West including the British.
With over 200 nationalities represented in the city, Dubai is on its way to becoming a truly diverse area.
12 The Entertainment Boom - Hollywood 3.0
In order to lead the world in tourism, Dubai has made it a focal point to outdo every other city and country when it comes to the entertainment industry. With the intent of building everything bigger and adding more features to just about any entertainment venue in the city, Dubai has emerged as a leader in showing its residents and visitors a great time. Not afraid to take risks, the payoff has often been rewarding with the city being able to boast of gargantuan water slides inside hotels, zoos inside of malls, underwater hotels and aquariums inside restaurants.
Because of its over-the-top attractions, it has become a popular destination for the entertainment industry, including the film and music scene. Popular Hollywood movies have been shot on location in the city like Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, while countless musical acts have made Dubai part of their concert tours, including Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez. Tourists will always have something to marvel at while visiting.
11 The Education - They breed them smarter in the UAE
With such a high density of wealthy residents in the city, Dubai actually has nearly twice as many private schools as it does public schools. This is disproportionate when compared to the average city where public schools outnumber private by wide margins. The affluent residents of the city are high in numbers so the education that is being paid for is well above the average standard seen throughout most countries.
The system even makes English a mandatory curriculum and in many cases, is treated as the first language rather than the native Arabic. The city is making a strong push toward higher education, helping solidify Dubai as a city of the future.
10 Sporting Events - Aiming For The Olympics and beyond
With the city focusing on expanding their ability to entertain through every avenue possible, Dubai has started to make plans to increase its stadium presence so that it can soon be considered as a landing spot for world sporting events like the Olympics and the World Cup.
With two major stadiums already constructed and in use today for cricket, the city has its sights set on bigger goals for the future.
9 Tourism Industry - Rising up the ranks
As its primary source of economic growth, tourism is vital to Dubai’s success and the overall quality of life for its residents. The city puts forth every effort to attract more and more visitors, trying to top the previous year. Considered the seventh most visited city in the world, it averages about 15 million tourists annually.
The numbers continue to rise each year and are projected to reach nearly 20 million visitors within the next two years, making its way into the top three tourist cities in the world. With this much success and this many people looking to book travel to Dubai, it’s surely on its way to continuing its global dominance.
8 Safety - Residents are well out of harm's way
Dubai is proving that it’s a global city through its innovation and architecture, routinely attracting millions of foreign tourists, but despite the influx of so many people into the region, it has managed to remain one of the safest cities in the world. In fact, it is so safe as a major metropolis, that it’s considered the ninth safest city in the world.
With some of the most impressive (that is, smallest) crime statistics for a city of its size, Dubai is only getting safer and safer with time, a feat that is quite impressive in its own right. This is definitely the mark of a city ready to take over the world!
7 Ski Dubai - Nothing is impossible
This landmark makes its way onto our list simply because of how unique and over-the-top it is. How could we not list it as a reason for Dubai to take over the world?
Ski Dubai is the largest indoor snow park in the world, allowing customers to snowboard and ski on slopes that resemble the real thing. It’s as close to a real ski resort as one could get in the middle of a 100-degree desert. The park includes a 280-foot tall manmade mountain with slopes that are over 1,300 feet long, giving riders a true taste of extreme snow sports.
6 The Theme Parks - more Adventure and fun for everyone
Dubai continues to try to outdo every other city with this entry. It is home to several theme parks that are built for fun, whether you are traveling with children or with adults only.
With theme parks like Wild Wadi Waterpark, IMG Worlds of Adventure, and Dubai Parks and Resorts, there’s more than enough to choose from for each traveler. There are several more not included on the list, but each park has its own theme with some aimed toward water activities and others focused on family vacations like Legoland. It’s just another reason Dubai is on the rise!
5 Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve - An unmatched natural landscape
The city doesn’t forget about its roots despite all of the manmade innovation throughout. It is in the middle of the desert after all, so Dubai is not missing out on the opportunity to capitalize on its natural landscape.
Visitors to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve can book tours to view all of the natural wildlife that lives within the 87 square miles of the compound. If they are looking for a bit more excitement, ATV rides in the sand dunes, spas located on the resort grounds and camel rides are also available for fun activities.
4 Dubai Marina - Prime real estate is an understatement
The Dubai Marina is a two-mile stretch of manmade landscape that includes the canal that passes through the city and the land on each side. The river is the main attraction and it was strategically placed there so that the surrounding land could be filled with high rise residential towers, adding to the beautiful aesthetics of the area as well as the value of the properties.
The entire marina is artificial and will one day house over 120,000 residents upon completion.
3 Dubai Miracle Garden - Another 'world's biggest'
As always, Dubai is set on having the title of “world’s largest” in front of anything it constructs. That title holds true when referring to the city’s Miracle Garden. It is in fact, the world’s biggest natural flower garden with over 109 million flowers growing throughout its 780,000 square foot complex.
The gardens are an incredible wonder that can take up an entire afternoon of visiting with its immense size and beautiful floral growth.
2 Madinat Jumeirah - Honoring Old Dubai, in style
The Madinat Jumeirah is a resort in Dubai, but its true call to fame is its association with “Old Dubai”. The look and feel of the complex resemble the more antiquated look of the desert city before its foray into modern and contemporary architecture.
Despite this, the resort is a five-star property and is considered the largest of its kind in the entire country with over 40 restaurants and bars to go along with three hotels within the location. It also has its own private 1.5 mile stretch of beachfront property.
1 Proposed Future Projects - Dubai is just getting started
Dubai truly is the city set to take over the world as it is constantly looking to build on its advancement in the realm of real estate and architecture. The city has several projects that have been proposed, many of which have already been funded and construction is underway. Dubai plans to build Dubailand, a park twice the size of Disney World, the Arabian Canal, the largest man-made canal, several state of the art tramway trains, and several more artificial islands.
With so many more proposed landmarks on the way, Dubai is just getting started!