Dubai & Abu Dhabi: Two cities, major sights

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22 November 2012

Building higher, longer, faster. Dubai and Abu Dhabi want the world to know they’re sitting on an almost bottomless ocean of black gold and can afford the biggest and best of everything.

For a long time it was Dubai breaking the records, but in the past few years, Abu Dhabi has started to spend some of its immense wealth. Between them, the two emirates have certainly gone to extremes.

World’s Most Expensive Hotel

Emirates Palace
West Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi. +971 2 690 9000.
Sitting out beyond Abu Dhabi’s iconic Corniche like a giant peach turtle, the true cost of building the Emirates Palace has never been revealed. At the top end of speculation, though, it’s thought the place cost $US3 billion to construct. But then a building like this isn’t supposed to be practical or sensible, but rather a symbol of unbridled excess. In the past, the Palace has also been home to the world’s most expensively-decorated Christmas tree and the world’s largest fireworks display.

World’s Most Inclined Building

Capital Gate, Abu Dhabi.
At 18 degrees, the Capital Gate building in the heart of the Abu Dhabi holds the record of the world’s most-inclined building. Part of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, it was finally completed in January after years of construction. From its summit you can see the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, which isn’t the biggest in the world (those are in Saudi Arabia and closed to non-Muslims), but is home to the planet’s largest chandelier and largest carpet.

World’s Tallest Building

Burj Khalifa, Dubai.
At 828m, almost double the height of the Empire State Building, The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. But it’s not just its stratospheric height: inside there’s the world’s highest nightclub, the world’s highest restaurant and the world’s highest swimming pool, all of which are reached by jumping in the world’s fastest lifts.

World’s Longest Driverless Metro

Dubai Metro, Dubai.
A lack of practical public transport was long a bugbear for people visiting Dubai. For years, jumping in a taxi and taking your chances in the traffic was the only viable option. That all changed in 2010 with the opening of the ultra-clean, ultra-efficient metro network. Of course, it wasn’t enough to simply build one – it had to be the longest non-piloted system in the world. Unusually for the UAE, it’s also a remarkably cost-effective way of getting around.

World’s Fastest Rollercoaster

Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi.
This ambitious development at Yas Island was primarily designed to house the Formula One track just outside Abu Dhabi. But it was realised the venue would have to have more than one function. Thus, Ferrari World was born – the world’s largest indoor theme park and home of the world’s fastest rollercoaster. The Formula Rossa ride can travel at a breathtaking 240km/h.

Jamie Lafferty


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