Timeframe: When Jumeirah Emirates Towers were the tallest buildings in Dubai

In the mid-1990s, an international competition was launched for a new landmark in the city's then burgeoning financial hub

Jumeirah Emirates Towers under construction, in November 1999. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Before Burj Khalifa and the huddle of skyscrapers spangling the Dubai skyline, two towers, along with the World Trade Centre, defined the city’s horizon – Jumeirah Emirates Towers. And it all began with a design competition.

In the mid-1990s, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, launched an international competition for a new landmark in Dubai’s burgeoning financial hub.

The prompt was fairly straightforward and called for twin towers that would be at least twice the height of the World Trade Centre, which stands at 149 metres.

From the onset, it was clear that the project would be a significant one, and that it signalled a new chapter in Dubai’s lofty aspirations. While there were several impressive submissions in their own right, one stood out and was deemed the winner.

Designed by architect Hazel Wong, Jumeirah Emirates Towers features two structures, the larger of which rises 354.6 metres to the tip. Between their equilateral triangular forms and jagged tops, the towers reflect traditional Islamic architecture in their otherwise contemporary design.

They are clad in aluminium panels that capture changes in sunlight. Wong has said that the “key objectives in the design of the Emirates Towers were to create the composition and placement of the twin towers to appear to be constantly changing, depending on the point of view and time of day".

The towers' construction began in 1996, and they were officially opened on April 15, 2000. Upon completion, the larger of the towers was considered the 10th tallest in the world. The loftier tower is an office building, whereas its more diminutive sibling, standing at 305 metres, is designated as a hotel. For a few years, they were the tallest buildings in Dubai.

Jumeirah Emirates Towers is home to 400 rooms and suites, including a two-level Royal Suite. The hotel was one of the country’s first to offer a floatation therapy pool room in its spa and also a dedicated ladies' space. The Chopard ladies-only floor features nine rooms and one suite. In-room amenities range from yoga mats and a cosmetics fridge to Chopard bathing products.

The two towers are bridged by a central podium, The Boulevard. Architecture and design firm Perkins + Will was behind the hotel’s lobby, which features a 30-metre atrium.

The twin towers are part of a larger complex featuring gardens and waterfalls, as well as a parking space that can accommodate about 1,500 vehicles. Flocks of peacocks are often seen wandering the grounds.

Jumeirah Emirates Towers has won numerous awards and accolades in its 20-year history. Among its prizes were the Best Good Night Sleep award at the Sleep Expo 2020. Today, the towers neighbour other notable architectural wonders, including the Museum of the Future. Yet, they have retained their splendour after almost a quarter of a century, remaining landmarks among the stellar huddle of architecture along Sheikh Zayed Road.

Updated: April 07, 2024, 10:35 AM