The title is too easy. But how else can you start the story of the world’s largest FRAME which recently opened in Dubai’s Zabeel Park? We have been watching it go up for months now and I was eager to visit. It is a shiny gold structure that lights up in different colors at night (I do realize that describes many buildings in Dubai, but this one is quite large). From afar it looks like a doorway than a frame, because you do not see the bottom edge which is ground level (my husband Jimmy, the architect, has interesting ideas on how the bottom edge could have been raised, with the visitor’s center and museum underneath, but I digress).
The idea of the frame is that you look one way and you see OLD Dubai – you look the other way and see NEW Dubai, framed by the structure. Of course, INSIDE the structure you do not SEE the structure, but it is still a very interesting concept and a fun outing. It’s a GREAT view from 48 stories, 150 meters (almost 500 feet) up in the air. Not a substitute for going to the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) because from the Frame you can only see the “new” Dubai that is downtown, business bay, and the financial center. You have to go up in the Burj to see the Palm and the World Islands, and who can miss that? But the Frame has its own unique appeal. You take an elevator to the top (of course), where scary fun awaits – the floor is transparent! It took me more minutes that I’d care to admit to be able to walk it. It is a LONG look down. There are also some fun interactive exhibits and when you descend there’s a spellbinding video showing a vision for the future of Dubai.
It is not a time consuming outing and is easy to do in a few hours. When we went, there was a long line but it moves fast, and then you are not allowed to spend TOO much time up there (and frankly, I am not sure you would want to spend more time than they give you). So budget no more than two hours, I would say. The tickets are inexpensive – only 50 Dhs ($13.50) for adults, 30 Dhs for children, and those under 3 years or over 60 years go in free. (Also free for People of Determination, Dubai’s term for people with special needs or disabilities). You will want to budget extra time to walk around Zabeel Park (5 Dhs to enter), rent a bike, or peruse the market (on Fridays except during summer).
It is not easy to get a full picture of the outside of the frame, so if you are after that, the best view is from the nearby walkway over Sheikh Rashid Road.
A worthy addition to Dubai’s collection of unique structures, for sure. The original design was the result of a competition asking for a design of a building that would be “the new face of Dubai”.
I saw Dubai as a city full of emblems and rather than adding another one, I propose to frame them all: to frame the city.
Fernando Donis, architect