Opened in 2000, the soaring Emirates Towers remain one of modern Dubai’s most iconic symbols, despite increasing competition from newer and even more massive landmarks. The larger office tower (355m) was the tallest building in the Middle East and tenth highest in the world when it was completed, though such has been the pace of development that it now barely scrapes into the top ten tallest buildings in the city. Size (or lack of) notwithstanding, the twin towers remain among the most beautiful in the city, their highly reflective surfaces mirroring the constantly changing play of desert light and shadow, and their unusual triangular groundplan and spiky cutaway summits giving them a kind of thrusting sci-fi glamour – like a pair of alien rockets about to blast off into space.
The taller tower houses the headquarters of Emirates airlines, plus the offices of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed and his inner circle of senior advisers; the smaller is occupied by the exclusive Jumeirah Emirates Towers hotel. One curiosity of the buildings is that the office tower, despite its considerable extra height (355m versus 305m), has only two more floors than the hotel tower (53 versus 51). The taller tower isn’t open to the public, apart from the ground floor where you’ll find the posh (if now rather moribund) Emirates Towers Boulevard, but there are plenty of opportunities to look around the hotel tower, most spectacularly from the 51st-floor Alta Badia bar . It’s also worth popping in to have a look at the dramatic atrium, with its little pod-shaped glass elevators shuttling up and down the huge orange wall overhead.