Letter from Dubai: Head-Over-Heels Race to the Future Causes Growing Pains
By Gordon Linden and Rupak Chatterjee
With sky-high aspirations to become a world-class destination and business hub, Dubai has mobilized mega-development on multiple fronts, leveraging its geographic advantages and historic trading role. The ambitions of this UAE city-state (population, 1.4 million) - expected to run out of oil in a few years - and its power to build seem unbounded. Massive manmade islands, Universal and Paramount theme parks, and Bawadi (a 50,000+ room Las Vegas-style strip) are all part of the current plans to solidify Dubai's growing reputation as the place to be.
The projects now taking shape and in the pipeline are ambitiously proposed to be fully populated in just a few short years. The skyline is crowded with building cranes and current residents face years of building noise, dust and truck traffic. Consider Dubai Marina, reportedly the world's largest man-made marina, which started development in the late 1990s. Today, in spite of glossy "sea-view-sky-lounge-living" brochures, it remains a vast construction site. In fact, very few of the unique, vigorously promoted destinations, such as Palm Island, Palm Deira, Dubai Waterfront, Dubailand, and the Lagoons (which, at 95 million square feet, is four times the size of London's Canary Wharf) are close to completion. Dubai should be busy moving earth and erecting buildings for at least another decade and probably beyond...
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