Rising immediately south of Downtown Dubai you can’t fail to notice the massed skyscrapers of Business Bay – the last of the city’s big mega-projects to get properly launched before the credit crunch descended in 2008. The vast project sat in half-finished desolation for a number of years, but has finally got completed, although it still feels a bit lifeless.
It’s worth a quick wander, even so, to have a quick peek at some of the architectural oddities which have mushroomed here in recent years. Start near the metro station at the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai hotel, opened in late 2012 and currently the tallest hotel in the world at a cool 355m (having taken that particular record off the nearby Rose Rayhaan hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road), occupying a pair of identical blue-glass towers looking a bit like the trunks of two palm trees, each topped with a spiky little crown.
Opposite the Marriott is the Iris Bay building – a wacky crescent-shaped construction, like an eye turned sideways. Back down the road, next to the intersection opposite the metro, the Omniyat building looks like an huge popcorn carton made out of black glass, while the Prism building next to it looks exactly like it says on the tin.
Finally, looking down the road ahead from here the eye is drawn inevitably to the stunning O-14 building, generally referred to the Swiss Cheese Tower thanks to the undulating layer of white cladding which envelops the entire structure, dotted with around 1300 circular holes which are said to have been inspired by the traditional form of the Arabian mashrabiya carved wooden screen, although it really looks much more like an enormous piece of Emmenthal cheese.