10 Wild, Dazzling & Absurd Record-Breaking Projects in Dubai

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World’s Largest Picture Frame


The Dubai Frame is a golden 492-foot (150 meter) structure rising out of Dubai’s Zabeel Park with the exact shape you’d expect given its name. Not only does it frame views of the city’s skyline, including iconic buildings like the mega-tall Burj Khalifa, it’s inhabitable. The horizontal section at the top is a viewing bridge with glass floors, and the ground floor features a museum that tells the story of Dubai. Considering that gigantic picture frames aren’t exactly an architectural norm, it’s probably safe from competition in its unofficial “World’s Largest Picture Frame” title for a while. (They also call it the “World’s Best New Attraction,” which is just a tad more more subjective.)

World’s Tallest Tower by Santiago Calatrava at Dubai Creek Harbor


Once complete in 2020, Santiago Calatrava’s Tower at Dubai Creek Harbor will officially best the Burj Khalifa as the tallest tower in the world – for now, at least. Currently under construction, the tower integrates “traditional Islamic architecture with cutting-edge design, engineering and sustainability elements,” and it will contain three public observation decks, event spaces, rotating balconies and a cafe. At the very top, the “Pinnacle Room” will offer 360-degree views of the city along with VIP Observation Garden Decks. It’ll soar 3,045 feet into the air, while the current title holder, the Burj Khalifa, tops out at 2,722 feet. But don’t worry, the Burj Khalifa (shown here peeking out of the clouds beside the new tower in a rendering) still has some reigning world firsts of its own to reveal.

World’s Largest LED Screen at the World’s Tallest Building


The facade of the Burj Khalifa got a high-tech makeover in 2015, making it the world’s largest LED screen. The screen covers an area of over 355,200 square feet (33,000 square meters) and required 10,000 connectors and nearly 45 miles (72 kilometers) of cabling to secure it. The videos above give a behind-the-scenes look at how it was installed, along with a demonstration of what it can do.

World’s First Floating Underwater Luxury Resort


Dubai is already home to artificial island resorts in complex shapes, some of which were delayed or never completed, along with various underwater hotels like the Resort Atlantis on Palm Island and a series of floating retreats. But nothing has ever quite reached the scale of “The Floating Venice,” which is described by its developers the Kleindienst Group as “the world’s first underwater luxury vessel resort.” Designed to mimic the real city of Venice, it can house up to 3,000 guests at a time, and offers transparent swimming pools with views of coral reefs, floating beaches and 12 restaurants and bars (three of which are underwater.)

World’s First Hover Taxis

In 2017, Dubai announced that it would be launching hover taxis for public use. Though it doesn’t look like they’ve made that happen quite yet, the city’s transport authority has tested out a number of these driverless drones in public spaces. Passengers will program their destinations on the ground and then reportedly zoom around 1,000 feet in the air at speeds of up to 60mph in a Chinese vehicle called the EHang 184. Designed to help with traffic woes, the flying taxi system joins another ambitious project in the making that could revolutionize the way people commute in the city.

World’s First Commercial Hyperloop

The world’s first commercial Hyperloop system is set to debut along the border between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 2020, close to the World Expo 2020 site and the Al Maktoum International Airport. The project got its start in 2013 when Elon Musk opened up his research on the technology to any company that could develop it. Sections of the Hyperloop are currently being installed, and if it’s ever fully complete, it will connect passengers and cargo at speeds of up to 760mph, powered by a combination of alternative energy sources.

But this ‘first’ might ultimately have to go to Abu Dhabi. Though it was initially announced as a system to connect Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced in 2018 that “there is no specific route for operating the Hyperloop system in Dubai or between Dubai and other emirates.”

“The system is still under the process of research and development, and RTA is closely following the developments in this technology, and will study several options for determining the route which will be announced in the future.”

Museum of the Future: (Potentially) The World’s Largest 3D-Printed Building

Huge 3D printers capable of building massive object are in various phases of development all over the world, and China has already used the technology to print entire apartment buildings. Dubai itself printed the “World’s First 3D-Printed Office Building” a curvilinear structure made of a special cement mixture. But Dubai’s Museum of the Future is on a whole other scale. Currently under construction and set to open in 2019, the museum will be one of the world’s most advanced buildings once built, and it’ll be partially 3D-printed. The developers haven’t specified exactly which parts, however, so we’ll have to wait and see on this one.

World’s First Roadside Gallery

The “World’s First Roadside Gallery” debuted in Dubai in February 2018, featuring a series of billboards along 62 miles (100km) of the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway. Sure, you can just check out the collection as you cruise along, taking in works like Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black (1922) and Leonardo da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronniere (1495-1499), or you can tune in to any of three radio stations partnering on the project for a more interactive experience. The radio gives you a short blurb about each artwork as you pass by. The Highway Gallery is a joint project of Louvre Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Media.

World’s First Drive-Through Crocodile Exhibit

Here’s a weird one: the “World’s First Drive-Through Exhibit of Crocodiles.” A bus takes visitors at the new Dubai Safari right inside the crocodile pit, driving alongside a narrow road built across the water. Customized for the purpose, the buses aim to produce the feel of a real safari. The Dubai Safari is home to 2,500 species of animals, and by 2020, it will host up to 5,000. Though it closed for the summer for improvements, it will be reopening in October.

World’s First Operational Police Robot

China might have a leg up on the rest of the world when it comes to creepy technology-aided dystopian policing, but Dubai is already home to the “World’s First Robotic Policeman.” The life-sized patrolman is capable of identifying wanted individuals, collecting evidence and patrolling busy areas of the city. If a citizen wants to report a crime, they can approach the bot and use a touch screen on its chest, and pressing an SOS button summons human authorities.

So far, the humanoid cop isn’t quite as terrifying as it could be, considering that it doesn’t seem to be equipped with weapons, but the Dubai government says it’s working on the “World’s Largest Robot” standing nearly 10 feet tall and capable of running up to 80mph. The Dubai police force reportedly wants to replace up to a quarter of its human police with droids by 2030.


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