Why Dubai Built An UNDERWATER Train
Tune in to find out why Dubai's building an underwater floating train, and more strange Dubai builds!Design
Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, having a horizon that is constantly changing and developing. But while there are plenty of billion-dollar projects reshaping the skyline, there are more, even crazier creations being planned underneath its waters!
Let's explore some of Dubai’s skyline delights under development, ranging from cities in genie-lamps, to underwater trains.
The UAE-based company National Advisor Bureau Limited have pitched the construction of a train line that will take you directly from Dubai to Mumbai in India. Considering these two cities are 1202 miles apart, that would be a pretty big endeavor on its own. It’s made even more impressive when you consider that there’s hundreds of miles of ocean between them.
But how are they going to do it? Well, they’re not just putting rails on the ocean floor. According to NABL, they’ll install two huge curved concrete tubes in the Arabian Sea. These tubes will float in the water and will be totally water-tight to avoid erosion or damage on the inside.
NABL will then attach these tubes to a series of industrial scale pontoons for stabilization. With a set of two tubes supported, each tube will house just one rail line, so trains can travel from both directions.
Not only that, but the tubes will also contain a series of pipelines that’ll import and export gas, oil and water between Mumbai and the UAE! That’s some mega-multitasking.
The train journey between Dubai and Mumbai will apparently take as little as two hours although these two cities are over 1200 miles apart. Getting a train from London to Paris takes two hours and fifteen minutes, and those two cities are only 302 miles apart.
Apparently, the NABL are planning to make the tubes completely airtight, so that the trains will operate in a vacuum to reduce air resistance. But that alone won’t be enough to make a regular train travel at the speed of light!
So, it seems Dubai is looking to use a state-of-the-art type of transport utilizing Maglev technology. Maglev, which stands for magnetic levitation, uses a series of electromagnets cooled to a freezing -450 degrees Fahrenheit.
At this super low temperature, the electromagnets generate magnetic fields that are up to 10 times greater than ordinary electromagnets! So, when these supercooled tracks come into contact with the opposing magnets placed on the sides of the train, they repel one another and allow the train to levitate.
This provides an almost frictionless ride, allowing trains to reach up to a breakneck 311 mph on land! However, without any friction, elevation changes, or air resistance in the vacuum of the tunnel, trains on the Aquarail will theoretically be able to travel at roughly 600 mph!
This is obviously a hugely ambitious project, and while its concepts were drawn up in 2019, there’s been no word on the project since. Well, if I can’t ride the train, I at least want to be the first person on Earth to travel from Dubai to Mumbai by hopping across the pontoons.
What would you wish for if you came across three genie’s lamps? Looking like a series of massive magical lamps, the appropriately named Aladdin City is a bizarre megaproject under development in Dubai that’s predicted to cost a brain-melting $15 billion.
The giant structures will resemble genie lamps along the Dubai Creek, the tallest of which will be 34 stories and will house everything from hotels and residential housing to large-scale garages.
The lamps will be attached to each other, and the entire complex will span 1500 feet, for perspective, that’s wider than the Empire State Building is tall! Each of the three lamp-cities will be inspired by a different tale from the classic 1001 Arabian Nights fable, which is where the story of Aladdin originally comes from.
Unfortunately, while construction was supposed to begin in 2016, there’s been no progress updates on this project. And a quick look at Google Earth reveals the site has now been converted into a pretty boring looking Wharf. I wonder how many lamps Dubai will need to rub to make this project a reality!
The London Eye in sunny-old England is an iconic landmark, and many know it as the biggest Ferris Wheel in the world. Though in reality, none of that is true. The Las Vegas High Roller is bigger, England isn’t sunny, and technically neither of them is Ferris wheels, they’re observation wheels.
Whatever you call them, they both just had their butts kicked by the Ain Dubai! Already built, the Ain Dubai is a staggering 820 feet tall! That not only makes the Ain Dubai 377 feet taller than the London eye, but also 270 feet taller than the High Roller!
Completed in 2021, the wheel took six years, 11,200 tons of steel, and a whopping $1.6 billion to build. Yeah, that’s billion with a b! The Ain Dubai also has an impressive carrying capacity, with each of its 40 person pods allowing it to hold a maximum total of 1750 passengers, with premium cabins even serving food!
So not only is this one big wheel in Dubai’s skyline, it’s also a massive middle finger to both London and Las Vegas.
A New Record Breaker
When the Burj Khalifa opened its doors in 2010, it put Dubai on the map. The astonishing building is the tallest in the world, standing at an astounding 2,717 feet.
Dubai wasn’t content to rest on its laurels for too long, because in 2016 they announced their plans to spend $1 billion building the Dubai Creek Tower. When it was first unveiled, the plans for this tower had it set to stand at an amazing 3045 feet tall, over 300 feet taller than the Burj Khalifa!
However, since it was announced the estimated height of the tower has jumped up to an absurd 4265 feet. This would make it 1553 feet taller than the Burj Khalifa! That’s taller than adding a whole Empire State building on top of the Burj Khalifa! That’ll definitely stop any other countries from trying to steal Dubai’s Tallest Tower title!
Despite standing at such a ridiculous height, the Dubai Creek Tower will only have 20 floors and 10 observation decks built into that pretty minaret shaped bud at the top. For comparison, the Burj Khalifa has 200 floors, 160 of which are used. That means less than 30% of the Dubai Creek Tower will be useful space!
Even so, the early stages of construction began in 2018 when 1.7 million cubic feet of concrete was poured into a cap in the ground. Weighing in at 130,000 tons, these foundations, on their own, weigh five times as much as the Statue of Liberty! But sadly, that’s all Dubai currently has to show for it.
The 2008 financial crash had a domino effect on Dubai’s economy and brought vanity projects like Creek tower to a standstill. While developers initially insisted the tower would be finished by 2022, it seems they may have just had high hopes.
1 To Watch
Introducing 1 Dubai, which is a beautiful-if-deceptively-named project. The 1 Dubai isn’t one tower, it’s three!
The goal of 1 Dubai is to construct three towers next to each other in a triangular formation. The tallest of the three towers will be 3218 feet tall: that’s almost 500 ft bigger than the Burj Khalifa!
The tower will feature a mix of hotels and residential apartments spread over a mammoth 201 floors, and that’s just the main building. What’s more, the three towers will be connected to one another by a series of sky bridges, which will serve as meeting spots as well as viewing platforms, providing some mind-boggling views.
While 1 Dubai hasn’t been officially canceled, construction was meant to begin all the way back in 2008, and so far, there’s no sign of it. However, progress on this project is pretty difficult to follow, because 1 Dubai is actually a different project to One Dubai.
O-n-e Dubai is the tower below, which sort of looks like three smaller buildings stacked on top of each other. Don’t worry if these similar names confuse you, they confuse google, too!
Dubai lies in the middle of the Arabian Desert, which means the city can get really hot. Summer months can reach blistering temperatures of 120°F, with only slow breezes and the shade from its towers to cool you down. Seems like perfect weather to go snowboarding, right?
Dubai is currently hard at work on the ambitious Meydan One project. When completed, Meydan One will be an enormous complex housing malls, restaurants, hotels, and the world’s largest ski slope.
The resort will be in a climate-controlled environment, totally indoors. The slope itself will be absolutely gargantuan at over half a mile long. That’s not all, though! The resort will feature 21 cinemas, a 277,000 square ft dancing fountain, and a 130,000 square ft winter village.
While that may seem amazing to you, just imagine how amazing the concept of real winter, let alone a winter village, is to your typical Dubai local! The resort is estimated to cost $1.5 billion to construct, and was originally expected to open in late 2020, with construction work 60% complete in 2019.
However, a combination of COVID and low oil prices, which Dubai’s economy depends on, took its toll on the construction industry. As such, the Meydan’s construction ground to a halt, leaving it only partially finished today! Additionally, the previously mentioned Dubai One will also be a part of the compound (not to be confused with the 1 Dubai).
A Museum of the Future!
We let computers do everything these days; schedule our calendars, manage our public transportation, and solve math problems we should really be able to do ourselves. But what if I told you Dubai is now using them to design buildings? Welcome to the museum of the future!
You may be tempted to call the museum a ring or hula-hoop, but it’s actually a torus shape, and was incredibly difficult to get right.
So difficult, in fact, that the architect had to rely on an algorithm to finish up some of the more complex design work! It relies on the perfect placement of more than 2400 steel beams making up its framework, giving it that phenomenally futuristic shape.
And those stylish windows don’t just look pretty in the day. At night, the outlines of each of them light up, and turn the entire building into one heck of a light show!
Costing a cool $136 million to construct, it features exhibits showcasing robotics, theoretical future tech, and famous inventors. The museum is currently open to visitors. It's open daily and you can easily book a ticket from the official website.
Have you ever been lying in bed, when a little beam of light starts annoyingly shining on your face? What if you could just rotate your entire apartment away from it? Well, this is Dubai’s Dynamic Tower, and it really lives up to its name.
Proposed back in 2008, this skyscraper will reach an impressive 1378 feet tall and boast 80 floors, which will include both hotels and residential accommodations.
But these won’t be anchored in place like all of Dubai’s other skyscrapers! Each floor of the tower will spin around, apparently taking up to 90 minutes for each floor to complete a full 360-degree rotation.
However, the exact speed and rotation of each floor will be set at the owner’s discretion via a voice-activated control system.
But, if it spins around like that, it’s definitely not relying on traditional construction methods. So how exactly would such a creative construct be built?
Well, the Dynamic Tower is mostly prefabricated, which means that the floors and living quarters will be built in a factory in units and then shipped to the construction site, where they can then be installed on a core structure.
And because each floor will be assembled on site, before being lifted up and locked into their final positions, it’s estimated that the dynamic tower would take as little as 18 months to build. This is in contrast to the 30 months a skyscraper of a similar height would require!
It’s also why, despite being totally one-of-a-kind, the skyscraper could cost as little as $330 million to build. Though it was originally pitched for 2020, construction on the tower has yet to begin. If I have to wait much longer, my head’s gonna spin!
If you had to imagine a grand solar park, what would you think of? Maybe a sun-themed roller-coaster, solar-panel-covered restaurants and an anthropomorphic sundial mascot?
Well, what they’re building over in Dubai is less of a theme park and more of a sight to behold! Introducing the Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum Solar Park!
The Park is part of what is called the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, which has the goal of converting the UAE to green and renewable energy by that year. One of the cornerstones of this project is Dubai’s monstrous solar park.
Launching over five stages, construction began in 2013 and is expected to be complete by 2030. Even though only three of the park’s five development stages have been completed, it already holds the record for world’s biggest solar park, covering a colossal 30 square miles of desert!
Inside all this space, the Park currently boasts a whopping 2.3 million solar panels. For perspective, there are only 1.47 million solar panels across the entire United States! And by 2030, these panels will generate some of the cheapest electricity in the world at just 1.7 cents per kilowatt hour! For comparison, the average US electricity rate is a costly 13.3 cents per kilowatt hour!
In total, the UAE plans to invest $13.6 billion into the park. This hefty cost will amount to hefty savings, though, with most estimates stating the park will save over 6.5 million tons of carbon emissions annually.
Heart of Europe, in Dubai?
If you can cast your mind back all the way to the ancient year of 2003, you may remember Dubai’s World Islands. An early entry into the city’s mass-development, the World Islands were a series of 300 completely artificial, habitable, ultra-luxury islands in the shape of a world map, located just off Dubai’s coast.
This ambitious goal of remaking the world was achieved through a process called land reclamation. This involved dredging sand from the Persian Gulf’s seafloor. The sand was then made denser through a process called vibro-compaction before it was melded into shape with GPS technology.
After that, the sand was surrounded by millions of tons of rocks for reinforcement and, voila! Dubai had its very own, five-and-a-half-mile world!
Unfortunately, not long after the land reclamation stage had finished, Dubai was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis. Having already sunk $15 billion into the project, it was put on hiatus, with only the Lebanon Island being fully completed.
The World Islands then sat, for years, unfinished in the ocean until now! Dubai has excitedly re-launched the World with the Heart of Europe development.
As you probably guessed from the name, The Heart of Europe seeks to fully develop several World Islands in the European region of the map. Each island will attempt to replicate the architecture, cuisine, and overall feel of their respective nations.
The locations are: the German Islands, the Italian Portofino, the Swedish Beach Palace, the Venetian Lido, the French Cote d’Azur, and the odd-looking “Floating Seahorse”.
In total, the Heart of Europe will cost around $5 billion to develop. So far only the Swedish island is complete, though. To be fair, IKEA does make the assembly instructions pretty easy to follow.
In 2019, Prime Minister Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum stated that by 2030, 25% of all transportation options in Dubai will be completely autonomous. The Dubai Transport Authorities propose to do this by building and installing a series of odd-looking, cube-shaped vehicles, called NEXT units, to be placed around the city.
Once inside the cube-mobile, you’ll tell it your destination and sit back as it smoothly whisks you away. They’ll even be able to link up to others, if you share a destination. If it helps, you can think of them as cute little personal-sized taxis just without a driver.
While these NEXT Units won’t exactly be travelling at breakneck speeds, averaging out about 12 to 18 miles an hour, they will be convenient and could pave the way for the future of transportation in the UAE. Dubai Transport Authorities expect that it will save the city $6 billion per year by reducing transportation costs, traffic accidents, and carbon emissions.
At this point you’re probably wondering how many more massive towers Dubai can build. And there's still one more to explore! This is the Burj Jumeirah, and it is a single building, even if it does look like it was sliced in two perfectly down the middle!
Jumeirah’s two long, slender towers will be connected to one another through a sky bridge, so you can walk from one to the other.
Although, whether you’ll want too is another story, because this brilliant building will tower over Dubai at 1804 feet tall, nearly twice the size of the Eiffel tower! The view from that bridge is a very long way down! While construction costs haven’t been disclosed yet, the tower is expected to open sometime in 2025.
And like this tower didn’t stand out enough already, its exterior will be covered in hundreds of digital panels. These panels will be utilized to project all manner of creative videos and displays, which should see it become the centerpiece of many different festivals in the city, no matter if it’s day or night!
A Mall OF THE FUTURE!
Are you a picky shopper? I know I am. I can spend ages staring at two identical pairs of socks trying to decide which will make my ankles look less fat. So, if I ever end up in Dubai’s Mall of the World, I don’t think I’ll ever be seen again.
This is because Dubai is currently in the process of building the world’s biggest mall. At eight million square feet, the sheer scale of this mega-mall can’t be understated, it will be more than twice the size of Vatican City. The Mall has reportedly been designed so that a tourist could stay there a full week without ever having to leave.
In fact, calling the project a mall is a bit of an understatement, it’s more like they’re building an indoor city. The Mall will feature thousands of shops and hotels but will also include more extravagant elements.
In the Mall of the World, you can expect to see a Broadway District staging various international musicals, a three-million-square-foot Wellness Center which will offer everything from make-overs to plastic surgery, and an enormous indoor theme park.
A glass dome will apparently cover this theme park, which will open up in the winter months when it isn’t so hot!
The Mall of the World is a staggeringly large and hugely ambitious project. As of right now it’s expected completion date isn’t known for sure, but it’s estimated to cost an unfathomable $6.8 billion at least.
Let’s just hope some of that money goes towards making the place safe. Can you imagine a Black Friday rush in there?