Home to the tallest skyscraper, the largest shopping mall and the longest driverless metro system in the world, Dubai is a city not shy about its architecture; their newest monument is the world’s largest picture frame, rising 150 meters above Dubai’s Zabeel Park.
A decade in the making, the Dubai Frame is said to represent the aspirations of the city and its achievements. The latest eye-catching mega-projects, the world’s largest picture frame offers up panoramic views of the skyline while framing views of iconic buildings such as the Burj Khalifa for visitors and residents all across the city.
The glittering structure is covered with a golden pattern that mirrors the motif of the upcoming 2020 Expo. And for 50 dirhams (CDN$15), visitors are treated to an immersive exhibition of the UAE’s history; before taking an elevator to a 93-metre long viewing gallery at the top of the frame. There they can walk along a precipitous glass-floored walkway and enjoy views all the way back to the old city of Deira to the north and the teetering towers of Sheikh Zayed Road to the south.
Afterwards, a neon-lit tunnel transports visitors to an interactive exhibition on the future of Dubai, with augmented reality displays offering glimpses of the UAE 50 years from now. And if you’re viewing the world’s largest picture frame from the outside, the towering structure also lights up at night to capture the cityscape.
Like many design projects, this one hasn’t come without controversy. Last year, it was revealed that the design may have been used without the consent of its original architect.
After an international contest in 2008, Mexican architect Fernando Donis beat out 900 other projects to win the competition by submitting a structure that would “embrace a void” and frame other monuments. Fernando was given $100,000 in prize money and brought to Dubai to be celebrated at a dinner with the crown prince. But then things started to go wrong, according to the architect.
He says that he was asked to move into an advisory role and sign a contract that would prevent him from going to the construction site. He was also asked to hand over his intellectual property and would never be allowed to promote the work. When he refused, he says they simply hired another consultant and cut him off.
Unfortunately, the UAE’s legal system makes it extremely difficult to sue the municipality over such a matter. Fernando filed a lawsuit in United States federal court last year, but it went nowhere. This left him following the progress of his project via social media. In the end, he doesn’t mind what he sees, though he’d like proper credit.
“It is fantastic to see it materialized. It seems to work on the skyline exactly as we proposed. Of course, we would like it to have been much more subtle, with less décor. But it does precisely what I wanted. I just would have loved to be part of it.”
Nevertheless, people seem to be taking to the new monument; it’s already become a favourite selfie spot for travellers. You can learn more about the world’s largest picture frame by visiting their website.
Images: Dubai Tourism
Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.