Some of my favourite buildings in Dubai

Over the years Dubai has amazed me with its rapid development, becoming one of the world’s most architecturally innovative cities. Daring to go to great lengths (and heights, literally), Dubai continues its pursuit of intensive urban expansion. In recent years, some of the most iconic – and tallest – buildings in the world have sprung up in Dubai, such as the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab, both well-known structures. But neither of these figure among my favourites. No, I love the traditional architecture of the many mosques (approx. 1,500) found in and around the city.

1. Al Farooq Omar Bin Al Khattab Mosque

 

Another Blue Mosque: this one’s for Al Farooq Omar Bin Al Khattab

Named for a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, it was built in 1986 and subsequently renovated in 2003 and 2011. It’s one of the largest mosques in Dubai with a capacity of 2,000 worshippers. It’s often referred to as the Blue Mosque because its architecture was inspired by Istanbul’s Blue Mosque and is a mix of Ottoman and Andalusian styles. Non-muslims can visit daily except on Friday.

2. Grand Mosque

 

Grand Mosque

This is one of Dubai’s oldest mosques and consequently the cultural and religious centre for Dubai’s Muslims. Originally built in 1900 as a madrasah for children, it was rebuilt in 1960 and renovated in 1998, though the original structure of the building has been maintained. Its minaret is the tallest in the city. Non-Muslims aren’t allowed into the mosque but are allowed to go up the minaret which offers stunning views of the mosque and the city.

3. Jumeirah Mosque

 

Jumeirah Mosque

One of the most photographed buildings in Dubai – and you can see why – this stunning mosque was built in 1976, in the traditional Fatimid style. It looks particularly spectacular when it is lit up as the sun goes down. The mosque’s interior features gorgeous intricate designs in pastel shades, Islamic calligraphy and golden chandeliers. It too is open to non-Muslims.

4. Imam Hossein Mosque

 

Iranian Mosque

This is one of the most famous Shia mosques in Dubai and was founded in 1979 by the Iranian community. The exterior of the mosque and its dome are covered in traditional blue tiles. Its interior shares the same striking blue tiles with green and gold accents, with Arabic inscriptions over them. This is another one open to non-Muslims.

5. Al Salaam Mosque

 

Al Salam Mosque

This mosque’s stunning red architecture was influenced by the Turkish buildings of old, resulting in a striking mix of Ottoman and Emirati culture and design. The exterior features gold domes and balconies on the minarets. Opened in 2014 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, it can accommodate 1,500 worshippers.

 

Trip to the Louvre, Abu Dhabi

The second stop on our recent brief trip to Abu Dhabi was the Louvre which was inaugurated in November 2017 by French President Emmanuel Macron and UAE Vice President Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi,  Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The museum is part of a 30 year licence agreement between the city of Abu Dhabi and the French government.

Designed by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel, it’s the largest art museum in the Arabian peninsula and cost in excess of US$750 million. In addition, Abu Dhabi paid US$525 million for the licence agreement for the name, plus a further US$750 million for art loans, special exhibitions and management advice. Artworks from around the world are showcased at the museum, with particular focus placed upon bridging the gap between Eastern and Western Art.

Quite a collection of antiquities

The museum is part of a US$27 billion tourist and cultural development which includes the building of three further museums, including the largest Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim, the Norman Foster designed Zayed National Museum, a performing arts centre designed by Zaha Hadid, a maritime museum and a number of art’s pavilions.

No(u)vel roof construction

The Louvre is a series of concrete buildings pulled together by a metallic ceiling designed to provide shade and reflect light into the museum like a natural palm frond. The tidal pools within the galleries create the illusion of a “museum in the sea” while protecting artwork, artefacts and visitors from the exterior and corrosive marine environment.

Some of the exhibits are outside the halls
Looking towards Abu Dhabi from the Louvre

We spent over two hours here but it wasn’t long enough to enjoy all the museum had to offer and I would suggest spending an entire day here to fully appreciate everything. The main exhibition showed the intertwining and influence of different civilisations, establishing a dialogue between the four corners of the earth. Plus it showcases works from multiple French museums.

An early Monet with not a water lily in sight!

The space is impressive and even though there were plenty of visitors it didn’t feel crowded. We didn’t avail ourselves of the catering facilities as we were too busy enjoying the exhibits though we did use the restrooms. The museum’s forthcoming exhibition Rembrandt, Vermeer and the Dutch Golden Age will display 95 works by the renowned fijnschilders (fine painters) of the Netherlands.