Dubai // Deira //

The National Bank of Dubai and around

Next to the Creek in the southern part of Deira you’ll find several of Dubai’s original modernist landmarks, whose quirky design provided a blueprint for the ever growing crop of magnificent, maverick and sometimes downright loony high-rises which can now be found across the city. Pride of place goes to the National Bank of Dubai building (1998), designed by Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott, who was also responsible for the nearby Hilton Dubai Creek and the Bastille Opera House in Paris. The bank’s Creek-facing side is covered by an enormous, curved sheet of highly polished glass, modelled on the sail of a traditional dhow, which acts as a kind of huge mirror to the water below and seems positively to catch fire with reflected light towards sunset – although for the best views of the bank you’ll need to head over to the opposite side of the Creek.

Next to the bank sits the shorter and squatter Dubai Chamber of Commerce (1995), an austerely minimalist glass-clad structure which seems to have been designed using nothing but triangles – a pattern subliminally echoed in the adjacent Sheraton Dubai Creek, whose wedge-shaped facade pokes out above the creekside like the prow of some enormous concrete ship. Opposite the Sheraton on Omar bin al Khattab Road stands the Etisalat Tower (1986), designed by Canadian architect Arthur Erikson and instantly recognizable thanks to the enormous golf ball on its roof. The design proved so catchy it’s since been repeated at further Etisalat buildings across the UAE, including the Etisalat building at the north end of Sheikh Zayed Road and on its two buildings in Abu Dhabi.

There’s another large Dhow Wharfage here, just east of the Chamber of Commerce. It’s much less visited than central Deira’s but just as eye-catching, with the old-fashioned boats surreally framed against the sparkling glass facades of the surrounding modernist high-rises.

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