10 crazy superlatives found only in Dubai
Postage stamps. Panini stickers. Wine bottle corks. These are things that people normally collect.
Not Dubai. It collects world records.
Here’s a list of 10 in the city's collection.
1. Largest man-made island
“You know what Dubai needs? More palm trees!”
This line might well have been delivered to convince a property developer to cough up a staggering 45 billion dirhams (US$12.3 billion) to build the world’s largest man-made island in the shape of a palm tree.
The Palm Jumeirah covers 560 hectares, took 3.3 billion cubic feet of sand to build and has attracted both world-renowned hotel chains (One&Only, Fairmont, Taj) and numerous celebrities who have invested in luxury villas with a typical price tag of 6 million dirhams (US$1.6 million).
Well, if it’s good enough for David, Victoria, Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper Beckham, then ...
2. Megabucks horserace
As the preferred sport of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, horse racing is big news in Dubai.
In 2010 the Meydan Racecourse complex was built to host the world’s richest horse race, The Dubai World Cup. It will next be staged on March 30, 2013, with total prize money set at a staggering 100 million dirhams (US$27.2 million).
The Meydan complex also includes the world’s first luxury five-star trackside hotel, a recently opened IMAX cinema and a car park nearly a mile long designed to look like a falcon from the air.
Meydan Road, Nad Al Sheba, Meydan City; +971 4 327 0000; www.meydan.ae
3. Largest shopping mall
From May to August things get rather hot in the United Arab Emirates. Temperatures of 40 C (104 F) drive people off the street and into Dubai’s many shopping malls.
None is more popular than The Dubai Mall, which at 3.7 million square feet is officially the world's largest by total area.
Complete with 1,200 retail outlets, 160 restaurants and cafés, an amusement park, an enormous ice rink and the official entry to the Burj Khalifa’s 124th-floor viewing deck, the mall goes a long way to reinforce Dubai’s standing as a world shopping capital.
Financial Centre Road; +971 4 362 7500; www.thedubaimall.com
4. World’s only 'seven-star' hotel
A visitor favorite, the sail-like Burj Al Arab opened its doors in 1999, but it's already an iconic world landmark. [An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the building was completed in 2010. —Ed.]
Each of 202 suites costing 4,400 dirhams (US$1,200) per night is spread over two floors and contains luxury items that go far beyond bath robes.
Although not officially certified as a "seven-star" hotel, no other property has awarded itself eight stars. Yet.
Jumeirah Beach; +971 4 301 7777; www.burjalarab.com
More on CNN: World's 15 most expensive hotel suites
6. Longest dancing fountains
Picture the final scene from "Ocean’s Eleven." The all-star cast stood watching the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas -- nice, wasn’t it?
Now imagine that again, but a lot, lot bigger.
Twice every afternoon and up to a dozen times each evening, the 900-foot-long Dubai Fountains blast 2,641 gallons of water almost 500 feet into the air, and all in time to some seriously funky Arabic music.
Bellagio, consider yourself bested.
The Dubai Mall, Financial Centre Road; +971 4 362 7500; www.thedubaimall.com
7. Largest acrylic panel
As far as records go there are far more interesting ones than "world’s largest acrylic panel."
But that's before you realize that the record-breaking panel’s sole purpose is to hold in place the 2.64-million-gallon Dubai Aquarium, which contains more than 400 sharks and rays.
If that isn’t enough, Candylicious, which claims to be the world’s largest sweet shop, is only a short walk away.
Fourth Street; +971 4 448 5200; admission from 55 dirhams (US$15); www.thedubaiaquarium.com
8. Longest automated metro system
With 12-lane highways, and almost two four-wheel drive vehicles for every head of population, Dubai is very much a motorist’s city.
Under the threat of increasingly bad traffic jams, however, the government opened the United Arab Emirates' first public rail system in 2009 -- with a high-tech twist.
The Dubai Metro is fully automated, so there are no human drivers. At 46 miles long, it's the longest automated metro system in the world.
Carriages are divided into Regular and Gold class; tickets cost from 1.80 dirhams (US50 cents), while an all-day pass costs 14 dirhams (US$3.80).
+971 4 284 4444 or +971 800 9090 (24-hour hot line); www.rta.ae
9. Tallest building
We've all heard about it: at 2,716 feet high, Dubai’s 5.5 billion dirham (US$1.49 billion) Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building.
It's so tall that its 164 floors make the rest of the city’s impressive skyscrapers look like bungalows -- but you’d expect that from a building that can be seen from 60 miles away.
1 Emaar Blvd., Downtown Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; +971 4 888 8888; www.burjkhalifa.ae
10. Cheapest ferry?
OK, so this isn't an official record, but it's heartwarming to see that not everything in Dubai is about glitz and glory.
The heart of the city’s old town, Deira, is bordered by Dubai Creek, once the city’s life source long before the oil boom.
Here, travelers can still cross in one of scores of rickety wooden water taxis known as abras for as little as one dirham (about US25 cents).
More on CNN: 10 reasons to love the Middle East