A new monument opened up in Dubai this January, breaking yet another world record for the city. Strategically placed between the historic suburb of Bur Dubai and the glistening new skyscrapers of the Downtown district, the Dubai Frame boasts the impressive (if somewhat unneccessary) record of being the largest picture frame in the world.
Though the structure may have broken a record that didn't need to be broken, it is a unique and entertaining attraction for visitors to the desert metropolis. Standing 150 meters high, the frame is designed to unite the old and new parts of the city, and offers views straight down from a glass floor that spans the 90 meter long walkway.
The Dubai Frame is located in Zabeel Park, a 47.5 hectare park in the Zabeel district of the city. It sits in front of the domes of the (now closed) Stargate Dubai attraction. The ticket booth is at Gate 4, which is a short walk from the frame itself. The nearest Metro stop is Al Jafiliya, which I wouldn't recommend as the best way to get there if the weather's hot (or to anyone with mobility restrictions) as it's a bit of a trek from there to the entrance of the frame.
There are a couple of food & drink stands near the entrance to the attraction if you're craving a snack, but be aware that outside food & drinks are not permitted inside. There is, however, a snack stand on the observation deck of the frame, which sells some really cute-looking treats. Washrooms are located on the mezzanine floor, near the gift shop.
Tickets can be bought at the ticket booth at Gate 4. After purchasing tickets, it's a short walk along the pathway to the frame. At this time, tickets can not be purchased online except for packages via the official website. There is a limit of 1,800 visitors per day, and the attraction will not allow any more ticket purchases if that limit has been reached. The Frame opens at 9am - I visited around midday on a Wednesday and there weren't many people there, though during weekends & holidays I would advise you to go earlier in the day to avoid long lines. If you want a night view, the attraction is open until 9pm, though I would recommend this option only if you aren't concerned about possibly being turned away due to the visitor limit being reached.
Tickets cost 50 AED for adults (around $13 USD) and 20 AED for kids.
There is an obvious theme to this attraction, and it's offered in 3 stages - Dubai's past, present and future. After going through security, visitors enter a small interactive museum that is designed to give a little bit of insight into Dubai's history. No photos are allowed in this part of the attraction, possibly to allow visitors to give their full attention to the displays around them. I sort of rushed through this part, but those with kids would probably find it more fun.
After walking through the museum you can take the elevator up to the observation deck, where the focus is on the city of Dubai's present state. On one side, you can see the short sand-coloured buildings in the older suburbs of the city. Look the other way, and you'll see the modern skyscrapers of Downtown Dubai.
The outer design of the building is a lovely pattern inspired by the upcoming Expo 2020, but while it looks beautiful, it prevents the structure from giving the sweeping panoramic views that you might get at the Burj Khalifa, or even some of the restaurants around the city. However, the Dubai Frame has one thing that no other attraction in the city offers - a window beneath your feet that alternates between opaque frosted glass and clear views of the ground 150 meters below.
Once you're finished taking in the view on the bridge, the elevator on the opposite side to where you came up will take you back to the mezzanine level. If you didn't get a view out the window on your way up, try to be first in line so you have a nice view going down (I had it the other way around and didn't get a video or pictures of the ride down). After exiting the elevator, guests are ushered into an area that projects a CGI presentation of what Dubai might look like in 50 years. Again, probably better with kids.
I enjoyed my visit to the Dubai Frame. As I said above, the outer design of the building does interfere with the view it offers, but it's interesting to see the older sections of the city from above, as well as stand on the glass floor and look straight down. The elevator ride is nice too, especially if you're lucky enough to get a spot by the window. Make sure you visit on a clear day, as you might not be able to see the city if it's hazy.
You can take some great photos around the frame, but it's a bit of a shame that there aren't really any places to get a view of the city through the frame, short of a scenic seaplane or helicopter ride, or with a drone. If you choose to take photos with a drone, make sure you're aware of the local regulations, especially as the area is close to the international airport and aerial tour operations.
I personally found the displays and projections a bit cheesy, and hope visitors take the time to also visit the Dubai Museum at Al Fahidi Fort, which gives much more information about the history of the area.
I also think the attraction should offer a bit more organized in terms of guidance - at one point I tried to get in line for the elevator, but was told by the staff I had to go a different way through some displays, just to come back to where I already was. This was only a minor frustration, but seemed a bit unnecessary and made me wonder why there were no indications of the specific route they want guests to take.
Since the attraction has only been open for 2 months, I have a feeling they're still working some issues out, and I hope it does get a bit more organized. Overall, I feel it was worth the visit and would recommend it to anyone visiting Dubai.
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