Who would have thought that like sand dunes and oil, buildings would one day become one of the defining charcteristics of the UAE--thanks to the massive building boom recently begun in Dubai and now spreading across the region.
But, wait a minute... Didn't this already happen in Abu Dhabi in the 1970's with the first oil shock? When I first arrived in the UAE in 2000 and visited Abu Dhabi, what I saw was a wall of buildings stretching up to 6 kilometers wide and 1 kilometer deep. There appeared to be a height limit of 20 stories or so as few buildings went higher, but it seemed a massive amount of construction had been involved to create such a dense urban center.
Now, little more than five years later, what is playing out in Dubai is not completely unprecedented. I wonder if it is not a case of de-ja-vu.
One can clearly make a case that the scale of work progressing now is massive--with so many man-made islands, hundred story towers and the like. But from the barren desert sands to what Abu Dhabi eventually became in the 1980's and 90's, isn't the scale of the transformation now about the same as is was then?
Such an observation, however, even if valid, hardly dampens the sense of awe one feels on seeing the current level of construction. Readers of any of my other blogs may have repeatedly found me commenting that it isn't just the towers or even the islands that impress, as many and as magnificent as they are. Accompanying these is a massive amount of infrastructure development, including the latest announcement of a metro transit system to include up to 5 lines, along with 2 or 3 bridges with up to 20 lanes each, trams, monorails, dozens of interchanges, tunnels... and if all this were not enough a massive new airport is being constructed to supplement the already massive soon-to-be-completed addition to the current airport.
I don't really want to spew out superlatives--as I have been prone to do, on more than one occasion. But that's just what happens when one is awe-struck.
Wealth and success in Dubai today is a measure of the number of high-rise towers there are and their floor counts. By that reckoning, in a few years, Dubai will be the wealthiest and most successful city in the world.
Just Take a Look
A stunningly designed, newly announced tower, The Summit.
A tower whose name provides a story with an interesting turn.
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