If there is a must see in Dubai, I believe it is the Burj Khalifa.
TheBurj Khalifa is the tallest man-made structure in the world. It checks in at 829.8 m (2,722 ft). There are 164 floors and over 24,000 windows. It took 10 years to construct this beautiful monstrosity. Over 100 km (62 mi) of pipes snake through the building. The building is estimated to cost around $1.5 billion.
The building was named in honor after UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan from Abu Dhabi. The Burj Khalifa was constructed during the world economic crisis. Dubai, up to their neck in debt, required a multi-billion bailout from Abu Dhabi.
I timed my visit for an hour before sunset. I wanted to capture the panoramas both during the day and night. The observation deck is located on the 124th floor, an incredible height, but still 40 floors lower than the apex. To save yourself $70 make a reservation online. Tickets reserved cost around $34 but just showing up will set you back around $110.
My visit took place during the sweltering summer and the crowds were still thick. Despite that fact, I spent a couple of hours on the deck and I was able to get many unencumbered views. The east part of the deck is open to the elements. In this area, you are able to place your camera through a glassless area to take pictures. The panoramas facing the Persian Gulf and the man-made islands (The World Islands and Palm Islands) are glassed in.
The view from the observation deck offers both wonders and disappointment. The skyline is not a continually dense vista. You will view an eruption of buildings and then the skyline recedes into the desert. In many ways, you are rewarded with a richer view in a city like Hong Kong or Chicago. The other negative during my visit was the haze. This detracts from the view and pictures. Regardless to spend time on the 124th floor is a unique and special experience.
The city quickly disappears into the haze
Another bonus of coming to see the Burj Khalifa is the Dubai Fountains which is visible from the observation deck. At a cost of over $200 million, you can see water dance at heights of over 500 feet. Fire, 6600 lights, and 25 color projectors in concert with a varied set of music produce a highly entertaining and impressive show. In the evenings, there is a performance every 30 minutes from 6pm-11pm on the weekends. Have a great Lebanese meal at Al Hallab on the patio for a great view of the fountain.
The view of the fountains from the observation deck
And visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in nearby Abu Dhabi.