Top Five Buildings of Abu Dhabi

The first circular skyscraper in the world looks like a giant, glass coin on the Abu Dhabi skyline

This beautiful, whitewashed mosque is one of the top attractions in Abu Dhabi. It is the eighth largest mosque in the world and the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates. At full capacity it can accommodate more than 40,000 worshipers. Construction began in the mid-1990s and the mosque was opened in 2007. Non-worshippers are welcome to visit the mosque daily, however Friday mornings are reserved for Muslims only. One of the main concepts behind the design was to ‘unite the world’, something reflected in that fact that artisans and materials were used from a variety of countries, including India, China, New Zealand, Morocco and the UAE.

(Image credit: Noel Reynolds)

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

This staggeringly luxurious hotel cost a knee-weakening £4billion to build – the second most expensive the world has ever seen. Perhaps unsurprisingly it has been awarded the exclusive rating of 7 stars, something reserved for only a handful of hotels across the world. Its interior covers 850,0002 metres of space and the hotel is surrounded by more than 200 acres of stunning gardens, and on top of that boasts its own private beach. The suites are fitted with marble and gold, and the most expensive suite – the Palace Grand – comes with a price tag of £7,000 per night.

Image credit: (Rob Alter)

Emirates Palace

Affectionately nicknamed the ‘leaning tower of Abu Dhabi’, this skyscraper is an architectural marvel. It has been specially designed to lean at an angle of 18 degrees (almost four times the gradient of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in Italy) and stands 160m tall. Part of the building is a hotel – the Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi – which is a five star establishment with almost 200 rooms and suites on offer. All provide stunning views of the city, with their floor to ceiling windows. There is also a spa on the 19th floor which overlooks Abu Dhabi.

Capital Gate

In a city famed for its futuristic architecture, the Qasr al-Hosn provides a welcome does of history and heritage. It started life as a small watchtower, erected in 1760, and 30 years later was developed into a fortress with the goal of protecting a water source – the only one on Abu Dhabi island – from potential invaders. Although it is today known unofficially as the ‘white fort’, for most of its history this was not the case – its current paintjob was bestowed in the 1970s as part of general renovations. (New renovations are taking place at the time of writing and the building is currently closed to the public until complete.)

Image credit: Abu Dhabi Culture and Heritage

Qasr al-Hosn

In the unlikely event that there is still space on your camera’s memory card after viewing the first four of the buildings in this list, be sure to check out the one that houses the headquarters of Aldar, a rather successful real estate company. It is the first circular skyscraper in the world, and looks like a giant, glass coin on the Abu Dhabi skyline. It became instantly iconic upon completion and truly is an extraordinary feat of engineering. Unsurprisingly it has picked up numerous international architecture awards, one of which was ‘Best Futuristic Design’.

Aldar HQ