10 architectural wonders of the Middle East

The Middle East isn't just famous for the biggest falafel in the world; it’s recently broken the surface as an an architectural playground too! Even if it’s not producing new Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Middle East is certainly teeming with modern miracles and rocky riches.

Although Arab countries are steeped in a deep and stony history, which is plainly visible to the visitor of its abundant historical monuments and landmarks from the Baalbak to the Jerash ruin, the rapid-developing countries, especially those of the Gulf, have moved away from the old and embraced a cutting edge modern architecture to boast.

 

The past decade has seen a dramatic change in the way sandy spaces were transformed in the region. From desert dunes to concrete jungle, Dubai hugs the number one spot in the ME – and world too in some instances - when it comes to towering with unique and hefty building designs.

 

Modern aesthetic ideals have played a huge role in urban planning, in addition to fierce competition between talented architects to create what they see as a utopian city, often translating into a Dubai Disneyland.

 

As time goes by, creative architectural concepts are churned out on a daily basis for new-age designs - some still up in the air, literally, waiting for execution. At this staggering rate of crafty construction, who knows what the ME will look like in another decade?

 

Here's a glimpse of our favorite modern architectural wonders around the Middle East. From the phallic to the plain phenomenal, some of the most enterprising edifices to deck the deserts.

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Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa: Look up, up and up a bit more, and then you might just be able to see the tip of the tallest building in the world. At 829.8 m high, this Dubai architectural phenomenon easily rises up to spot no 1 on our list.

Water Discus Hotel Dubai

God of the Seas: We all dream of that magical feeling of living under water. Luckily, with man-made ingenuity, Gulf-made dreams do come true, and thanks to Dubai’s Water Discus Hotel, you can soon spend the night like a guest at the Little Mermaid’s household!

World Trade Centre in Bahrain

The World Trade Centre in Bahrain shows that an environmental conscience can go hand in hand with stunning design! The first skyscraper to incorporate wind turbines into its structure, this little beauty stands 787 ft tall (making it the second largest building in Bahrain) and has won several designs for its sustainability.

Infinity Tower

Spiraling out of control: The 306 metres, 80 story skyscraper Infinity Tower in Dubai looks as though it’s infinitely spinning to the top. Its spectacular spiraling design reflects the boundless energies and ever-changing shapes of the deserts, winds and seas that surround it.

Ferrari World

Bigger, faster, stronger: We couldn’t be talking about the Gulf without a little bit of ostentatious design thrown in! Enter Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. Built in the shape of the Ferrari, it's the world’s largest indoor theme park and home to the world’s fastest rollercoaster. But that big red roof might make you more queasy than the rides!

Azadi Tower

Central piece: Standing guard like a sentry at the gates of Tehran, Iran, is the impressive Azadi Tower, AKA Freedom Tower. More than the Arch de Triomphe, this sensational stalwart was completed in 1971 to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire, which quite fittingly became the symbol of Tehran.

Kagithane Gardens

The Hanging Gardens of Kagithane: (Avante) Gardens is a business district that focuses on the users’ work and living qualities offering Istanbul a new urban approach. The dynamic project acts as a catalyst of business life for a new Istanbul, that promotes contemporary culture, architecture and lifestyle.

Technosphere Dubai

We ballin’: You’d have to be livin the good life to afford hanging at the uber chic globe-shaped Dubai Technosphere... once it’s been built! The winner of the CNBC Architectural Award Dubai 2009 was designed to be a super building that lives, breathes and thinks for and with the people that inhabit it. A work in progress and for progress!

King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center

King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center: Looking like the Sydney Opera House’s younger, punkier brother, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Riyadh is quite the architectural feat! Its futuristic style complements the progressive work that goes on inside - 40% of the center’s workforce are women.

Cobra Tower

Future feature: King Cobra. It’s yet to be built, but the infamous Cobra Tower in Kuwait, resembling two cobras embracing, has already caused a huge buzz on the internet. CGI firm (CDI Gulf International) came up with the never-seen-before snakey concept. Will this ropey skyscraper get built soon or will building plans spiral out of control?

Burj Khalifa
Water Discus Hotel Dubai
World Trade Centre in Bahrain
Infinity Tower
Ferrari World
Azadi Tower
Kagithane Gardens
Technosphere Dubai
King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center
Cobra Tower
Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa: Look up, up and up a bit more, and then you might just be able to see the tip of the tallest building in the world. At 829.8 m high, this Dubai architectural phenomenon easily rises up to spot no 1 on our list.
Water Discus Hotel Dubai
God of the Seas: We all dream of that magical feeling of living under water. Luckily, with man-made ingenuity, Gulf-made dreams do come true, and thanks to Dubai’s Water Discus Hotel, you can soon spend the night like a guest at the Little Mermaid’s household!
World Trade Centre in Bahrain
The World Trade Centre in Bahrain shows that an environmental conscience can go hand in hand with stunning design! The first skyscraper to incorporate wind turbines into its structure, this little beauty stands 787 ft tall (making it the second largest building in Bahrain) and has won several designs for its sustainability.
Infinity Tower
Spiraling out of control: The 306 metres, 80 story skyscraper Infinity Tower in Dubai looks as though it’s infinitely spinning to the top. Its spectacular spiraling design reflects the boundless energies and ever-changing shapes of the deserts, winds and seas that surround it.
Ferrari World
Bigger, faster, stronger: We couldn’t be talking about the Gulf without a little bit of ostentatious design thrown in! Enter Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. Built in the shape of the Ferrari, it's the world’s largest indoor theme park and home to the world’s fastest rollercoaster. But that big red roof might make you more queasy than the rides!
Azadi Tower
Central piece: Standing guard like a sentry at the gates of Tehran, Iran, is the impressive Azadi Tower, AKA Freedom Tower. More than the Arch de Triomphe, this sensational stalwart was completed in 1971 to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire, which quite fittingly became the symbol of Tehran.
Kagithane Gardens
The Hanging Gardens of Kagithane: (Avante) Gardens is a business district that focuses on the users’ work and living qualities offering Istanbul a new urban approach. The dynamic project acts as a catalyst of business life for a new Istanbul, that promotes contemporary culture, architecture and lifestyle.
Technosphere Dubai
We ballin’: You’d have to be livin the good life to afford hanging at the uber chic globe-shaped Dubai Technosphere... once it’s been built! The winner of the CNBC Architectural Award Dubai 2009 was designed to be a super building that lives, breathes and thinks for and with the people that inhabit it. A work in progress and for progress!
King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center
King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center: Looking like the Sydney Opera House’s younger, punkier brother, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Riyadh is quite the architectural feat! Its futuristic style complements the progressive work that goes on inside - 40% of the center’s workforce are women.
Cobra Tower
Future feature: King Cobra. It’s yet to be built, but the infamous Cobra Tower in Kuwait, resembling two cobras embracing, has already caused a huge buzz on the internet. CGI firm (CDI Gulf International) came up with the never-seen-before snakey concept. Will this ropey skyscraper get built soon or will building plans spiral out of control?