Dubai is truly an amazing place for urban landscape photography. Whether you want to shoot the Gulf city’s famous towering landmarks, or seek out more surprising and unusual locations, here are some of my favorite spots for Dubai cityscape photography.
The Dubai Marina offers an excellent opportunity to shoot some of Dubai’s most interesting architecture in a scenic waterfront setting. Here you’ll find a tightly-packed cityscape of super modern skyscrapers, including the iconic 75-story Cayan Tower, with its distinctive “twisted” design.
There’s a whole variety of ways in which you could approach shooting the skyline around this area. Whether you go for a classic shot across the Marina itself, with the lights of the city reflected in the water, or a more unusual view incorporating other elements such as freeway bridges, luxury yachts, palm tress, or other architectural elements in the foreground, the best time to shoot the Marina is usually at night.
For alternative views of the Dubai Marina, head up the Princess Tower – formerly the tallest residential-only building in the world – where you can get excellent shots looking down on the surrounding cityscape, boats, and waterfront.
The Burj Khalifa took 5 years to build, and has retained its crown as the world’s tallest structure since work was completed on it in 2009. As far as architectural height records go, that’s quite a long time at the top.
Owing to the amount of empty sky that must be left either side, the building’s extreme height can make it tricky to fit into a horizontal frame in an aesthetically pleasing manner. However, that height becomes a real asset when instead of trying to photograph the Burj Khalifa itself, you go up it to photograph the rest of the city from its observation deck.
When built, Burj Khalifa’s observation deck, approximately named At The Top, was the highest in the world. While the building itself remains the world’s tallest, the observation deck record has since been beaten, twice in fact. Nonetheless, what difference does a couple of hundred feet make when we’re talking in thousands? This place is high!
In fact, it’s so high that on a clear day you can see all the way to the shores of Iran from up here. Perhaps more interesting to photographers, though, are the incredible views it permits of closer landmarks. Certainly the Burj Khalifa is one of the best photography locations in Dubai for those looking to get a bird’s eye view of the city’s architecture.
But this place is so high that a wide angle lens will likely render the view too small and distant to have much photographic impact. Instead, bring a medium to long telephoto and shoot stunning graphic compositions of nearby towers, freeway junctions, and the sand-blown cityscape below.
Be sure to visit the adjacent Dubai Mall too: one of the biggest in the world, and also a pretty amazing subject for photography.
Cloudy weather forecast for the sunrise? Don’t let that put you off: many of Dubai’s higher buildings rise above the clouds, so heading up a tall tower such as the Burj Khalifa will allow you to shoot their topmost floors peaking up through the vaporous, fluffy cloudscape below. It doesn’t get much more dramatic than that!
Looking for alternative views of the Dubai cityscape? Or perhaps you are more interested in photographing lesser-known buildings than in repeating the same shots of popular landmarks that can already be found on social media in their thousands? If that’s the case, you could do a lot worse than heading out to Port Rashid.
Port areas are always fascinating to me. But with its atmospheric lighting, sandy terrain, and unusual architecture, Dubai’s is especially so. Try capturing quayside cranes at dusk, or photographing enormous cruise ships as they come in to dock. Some of my favorite cityscape photos from my last trip to Dubai were taken from Port Rashid, looking back across the water to the city’s downtown area.
Although we all know the famous views of ultra-modern, shiny Dubai – with its high-tech, luxury towers – there’s also another side to this incredible city that you may not be aware of: the old quarter with its souks and bazaars. For example, check out some of the amazing traditional Arabic architecture in the Al Bastakyia neighborhood, or ride a boat across Dubai Creek, which affords views of both old and new Dubai cityscapes.
If you can stand the heat, Dubai is an amazing place for photography at any hour of the day. From time-lapse night shoots of the glowing skyline, to early morning exploration of the old quarter and its more traditional architecture, there are virtually endless options for cityscape photography in Dubai.
Not planning a photography trip to Dubai anytime soon, but nonetheless in need of some high quality and fully licensable Dubai cityscape photography? Head on over to my Dubai photography galleries to purchase high resolution images for your business or personal uses.