One thing I've noticed about the city of Dubai: they really like having the biggest things. Not just really big and grand and impressive, no, but The Biggest in the Whole World. Call it gross excess and consumerism of the worst kind if you'd like (hi, Mom!), but you at least have to respect it as incredibly impressive. And often incredibly beautiful.
Here, as seen from my 22nd-story apartment, is the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. It is 2,717 feet tall. For comparison, the second-tallest building in the world is the CN tower in Toronto, at 1,815 feet tall. The Burj is 50% taller than the next tallest building in the world. It is more than twice as tall as the Empire State Building. That's crazy.
It's so inimaginably massive that from below (or even from 22 stories up), it just looks "really big." It's not until you compare it to "normal" skyscrapers that your brain can even begin to comprehend the scale of what you're seeing.
As if that weren't enough, the Burj Khalifa also holds the world records for fastest elevators, highest swimming pool, most floors, highest occupied floor, highest outdoor observation deck, highest-reaching elevator (they go up into the spire!), and highest mosque.
Also visible from my gorgeous 22nd-story view: the tallest hotel in the world.
It's called The Address. I don't know why, especially considering that bulidings/places in Dubai don't have addresses at all. Heck, most of the streets don't even have names. It's an odd choice to be sure.
Between these two massive buildings is one of the most beautiful man-made things I have ever seen.
Technically, it is the world's largest fountain. But really, that doesn't mean much to me. What is really impressive is that it is gorgeous. Captivating. Absolutely entrancing. And it was made by a Stanford prof!
The big jets of water are shot out at supersonic speeds, so that even right overlooking it you see the water burst up far before you hear the boom. According to wikipedia, the fountain shoots water to 490 feet high, but from the vantage point of the 22nd floor, the water was still a bit under my level. Which is to say... maybe 15 stories? 18 stories? Damn impressive, whatever it was.
The water dances. It sways. It shoots like a missile. It is graceful, powerful, feminine, masculine. It curves and moves and punctuates itself. It is my favorite thing I have found in Dubai.
Behind the fountain is the Dubai Mall. You guessed it--the largest in the world at 1200 stores. Yes, you read that right. Twelve. Hundred. Stores. This is almost sickening to me, somehow. But inside you'll find one of my favorite "biggests" in Dubai: the world's largest acrylic panel, at 32.88 m wide × 8.3 m high × 750 mm thick and weighing 245,614 kg. Why is this so exciting? Because it's a damn cool aquarium!
Ten million liters! Thirty three thousand marine animals! Massive schools of fish! Multiple types of huge sharks! Free for public viewing!
Now this is the kind of gross excess that I can really get behind. :)