Contemporary urban development in the United Arab Emirates has been based on the creation of spectacular skyscrapers. Dubai has a large concentration of tall buildings amongst them the world’s tallest tower, Burj Khalifa. The development of high-rise buildings in Dubai (residential, commercial or mixed-use) is defining the city with structures competing with each other in design and height. These towers provide a high ratio of space where more people can live, especially when the land is in limited supply with rapid population growth. Tall buildings may be sustainable in terms of saving land, but constant ground level interaction can impact environmental and social components. They also provide great views, gulf water front, man-made lakes augmenting real estate values and neighboring areas to capitalise on their prospects too.

The development of Dubai Marina district has been based on formation of the man-made Marina from rerouting the water from the Persian Gulf to create a new compact waterfront with high-rise buildings. This paper will address two key questions concerning social and environmental sustainability criteria. Firstly, what are the characteristics of high-rise, high-density compact urban form? And secondly, how high rise, high-density compact cities could address the social and environmental sustainability in Dubai Marina?

The methodology is based on a mixed method approach involving both qualitative and quantitative (Statistical Analysis and SPSS software) of case study of Dubai Marina.