Dubai's Development Is More Than Novelty

<p>More than just a spectacle, Dubai is positioning itself to become one of the world's preeminent cultural and economic capitals.</p>
November 27, 2007, 9am PST | Nate Berg
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"The megacity of Dubai, one of the seven federal states of the United Arab Emirates, will be the new economic and cultural capital of the world, spanning its neighboring emirates of Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and beyond in one urbanized mass, rich in the biggest source of renewable energy-sunlight-a pioneer in sustainability and new technology, and conveniently located within easy travel distance of a population of more than two billion in the Middle East, Europe, India, and Africa. In the six years since the Twin Towers fell, a thousand skyscrapers have been rising on the Arabian Gulf."

"But for the real substance behind the city you have to look beyond the spectacle of its thousand skyscrapers, malls, resorts, islands, and theme parks to the scale of its land-use patterns as manifested in the hundred or so indiv­idually master-planned residential, commercial, financial, and industrial ­districts."

"The more than $310 billion in total construction under way or planned over the next decade includes not just mountains of curtain-walled skyscrapers and the over-the-top theme parks that have become patented clichés of Delirious Dubai, but a financial center, an academic hub, an information-technology center, a free media zone, and a minicity devoted to the worldwide distribution of humanitarian aid, as well as environmentally friendly projects such as self-­powered buildings, a solar water-desalinization plant, a subway, and a light-rail system. The tourist spectacles are great publicity and a growing part of the economy, but they're mainly distractions from the serious business happening here. The doubling in size of Jebel Ali port, the building of a new international airport, and the launch of the Dubai stock market two years ago are more telling signs of Dubai's long-term goal of positioning itself as the central economic hub between London and Singapore."

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Published on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 in Metropolis Magazine
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