Sunday, January 28, 2007


The not-in-my-backyard (n.i.m.b.y.) attitude is alive and well in the Dubai Marina. One forum contributor to's Dubai Marina thread bemoans,
Dubai Marina is absolutely stunning, and with Jumeirah Lake Towers in the background it will become a great skyline; but one thing that ruins it is that UGLY POWER PLANT directly to the left of these developments. I know the power plant is necessary but it is truly unsitely; you can even see the plant from the Palm Jumeirah. I wish there was someway they could relocate this plant!!!
It's an easy sentiment to appreciate. The Marina is billed as an exclusive, upscale high-rise community, where any plot of land large enough to construct a multi-story condominium tower sells for a cool US$40 million. Residents pay top dirham for views of sea, boats and twinkling tower lights--not for smokestacks! But the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority's massive Jebel Ali plant flanks the Marina and occupies as much prime beachfront real estate as all of the Marina.

Like many nimby scenarios, there is little to do but learn to live with it. This power station, Dubai's largest, is crucial if for nothing else than to power and water all of the city's massive new developments. It is almost poetic justice that the huge power station reside beside the Marina, one of the city's first and largest new projects. Although there are rumors (or more accurately, hopes) that this plant will in time be shifted, all indications suggest otherwise. Like the Marina itself this baby is growing larger by the day, as more processing capacity is being built in.

In July 2007, the power plant is due to begin receiving a flow of natural gas via pipeline from Qatar, some 350km across the Gulf. This plant isn't going anywhere. At least, the natural gas feed may mean that it can begin burning more cleanly.

Another Dubai development at which nimby frets have surfaced is the expansive new residential community, International City. Buyers and residents have reported the smell of sewage wafting in from a nearby waste treatment facility. Rumor (or more accruately, hope) was that the plant would be shifted. Instead, master-developer, Nakheel, has announced that the sewage plant would be upgraded and expanded in order to better serve the needs of the sprawling community. Like the power station, the upgrade should mean, at least, that the discharge will be cleaner.

Perhaps I am the eternal optimist when it comes to Dubai. I think it is wrong to take the nimby stance when one clearly benefits from the object of one's opposition. No doubt, the huge Jebel Ali power station is needed now more than ever. There has to be a way to take pride in this mammoth facility rather than begrudge it. It can even be beautiful at times, when seen from Sheikh Zayed Road with the setting sun as a backdrop.

High-tension wires (in the hundreds, it would seem) fan out from the plant, pass over SZR's 10 lanes, brush up against the new Discovery Gardens development and then trail off into the desert. An amazing eyesore, no doubt, but perhaps this along with the power plant can be viewed as an impressive testiment to progress. Dubai, after all, has emerged as not only a tourist mecca but as an economic and industrial powerhouse. There is a measure of pride that one can take in this. One can learn to see beauty not only in presence, but in function as well.

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secretdubai said...

High-tension wires (in the hundreds, it would seem) fan out from the plant, pass over SZR's 10 lanes, brush up against the new Discovery Gardens development and then trail off into the desert.

And one can just imagine the impact they may have on residents' health.

BD said...

Good point. I guess more than just being unsitely or smelling bad, it could be a real health hazzard for some. Imagine weird things going on in the apartments closest to the wires, like electrical appliances coming on by themselves or static electricity forming on everything.

Macthomson said...

Worrying point, the high-tension wires; wouldn't want them passing anywhere close to where I live.

But the aesthetic issue is interesting. The power station complex can be viewed as a kind of brutalist architecture. Maybe they could jazz it up with some facade work and give it the iconic presence of the Centre Pompidou in Paris?

BD said...

Brutalist architecture--I like that. Someone should suggest it, but to whom? It is the sort of thing the powers that be in Dubai could go for if presented to them in the right way.

I think part of the problem with the high-tension, high-voltage electric cables is that the science is disputed. Thus, there's an excuse for the authorities to dilly-dally on the issue.

I suspect it is unsuspecting buyers (those from out-of-country who buy without having seen the site) who end up with flats overlooking the wires. They can then pass these on to desperate renters who are prepared to take whatever they can get--at least until supply continues to fall way short of demand. Beyond that time, they may get stuck a bad egg.