North of the Emirates Towers stretches the sprawling Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, on whose far side rises the venerable old Dubai World Trade Centre tower, Dubai’s first skyscraper and formerly the tallest building in the Middle East. Commissioned in 1979 by the visionary Sheikh Rashid, this 39-storey edifice was widely regarded as a massive white elephant when it was first built, standing as it did in the middle of what was then empty desert far from the old city centre. In fact, history has entirely vindicated Rashid’s daring gamble. The centre proved an enormous success with foreign companies and US diplomats, who established a consulate in the tower and used it as a major base for monitoring affairs in nearby Iran. The centre also served as an important anchor for future development along the strip, and it’s a measure of Sheikh Rashid’s far-sighted ambition that his alleged folie de grandeur has long since been overtaken by a string of far more impressive constructions further down the road.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Dubai features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

6 things every family must do in Dubai

6 things every family must do in Dubai

Dubai is the most spectacular playground on Earth. The desire to make everything bigger and brighter and better has created a city of superlatives – and for w…

15 Jun 2017 • Keith Drew insert_drive_file Article
Burj Khalifa: is the world’s tallest building worth the hype?

Burj Khalifa: is the world’s tallest building worth the hype?

One of Dubai’s main attractions and currently the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa draws in hundreds of people daily to marvel at the views from i…

31 Jan 2017 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
Away from the skyscrapers: how to find the “other” Dubai

Away from the skyscrapers: how to find the “other” Dubai

It’s big, brash and lays claim to so many world records it might even have the world record for the number of world records. But beyond the superlatives, skys…

22 Nov 2016 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right