The State of Development in Abu Dhabi and Doha

Nicolai Ouroussoff, architecture critic for The New York Times, offers this lengthy look at the state of development and design in Abu Dhabi and Doha.

With major civic projects underway, and grand instant cities emerging in the desert, the reality of urban development in the region raises questions of sustainability, pace and cultural relevance.

"To a critic traveling through the region, the speed at which museums are being built in Abu Dhabi - and the international brand names attached to some of them - conjured culture-flavored versions of the overwrought real-estate spectacles that famously shaped its fellow emirate, Dubai. By contrast, Doha's vision seemed a more calculated attempt to find a balance between modernization and Islam.

But in both cases leaders also see their construction sprees as part of sweeping efforts to retool their societies for a post-Sept. 11, post-oil world. Their goal is not only to build a more positive image of the Middle East at a time when anti-Islamic sentiment continues to build across Europe and the United States, but also to create a kind of latter-day Silk Road, one on which their countries are powerful cultural and economic hinges between the West and rising powers like India and China."

Full Story: Building Museums, and a Fresh Arab Identity

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