Sunday, 7 April 2013



Dubai: a city in the future

by Kon Hans

From a fishing village and in just 50 years time, Dubai has turned into a new metropolis of the 21st century


A familiar red hat and a dazzling smile, the symbols of Emirates Airlines, one of the largest on the planet, will be your first encounter as you embark on your flight that will take you to one of the busiest airports in the world, to the new ultra-modern airport of the rising metropolis of the 21st century, Dubai.

Afterwards, a completely automated metro carriage, on an elevated railway and passing between huge towers made of mirrors and filled with all the colors and races of the world, will leave you by an impressive hotel –they all are! From its window you can contemplate a vast green park giving its way to the golden sand of an exotic beach with palm trees, while the shadow of one of them seems to expand endlessly into the sea materializing into the astonishing "Palm Jumeira" with its residences floating as if on a new Caribbean Sea at the edge of the Arabian Desert.

Wherever you turn your head the development will hit you hard in the face in a “superlative” manner: the world's tallest hotel has just inaugurated, the biggest mall in the world is here again (Dubai Mall) and so is the largest flower garden (Dubai Miracle Garden) in the middle of the desert! If this is not enough then look at the horizon as the colossal “Tower of the Khalif” (Burj al Khalifa) traverses with its shadow the entire Dubai below, like an enormous solar clock indicator. 

Taxes, the non-existent 

The images are transformed into exceptional experiences that highlight the uniqueness of a metropolis in its blooming. Unrestrained, glamorous, with all the momentum of the future in its foundations, it seems as though nothing can halt its course as it lunges itself into the embrace of the new century with the confidence of a robust economy, a galloping development and a new multicultural identity in its birth.

Dubai, from a small fishing village with a long history as a commercial channel, in just 50 years time has managed to become an international hub of trade, investment and tourism. Its success lies, to a certain extent, on the Emirates' vast oil and gas deposits though the majority belongs to the neighboring Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and at the same time the capital of the seven United Arab Emirates. However, it’s not only the oil responsible for this success: a lot of work lies behind, challenging and innovative decisions had to be made with determination; the "economic miracle" of Dubai is no miracle at all, it is just the result of a logical and methodical planning.

The whole Dubai relies on its unhindered growth; it rests with both feet, firmly, on the, - ill famed for many lately - , “free market”, and it can’t be more free: there are no taxes! However the State ensures and pushes this development since the 1980s, attracting investors from all over the world with all possible concessions and facilities, understanding very early the advantages of a recycling market. Thus, the “free zones” are everywhere in Dubai and are very specialized: there exists the Media Zone, the Internet Zone, the Academic Zone and others totaling 20 highly developed areas where trade is booming free from any kind of taxes or customs duties and with State-of-the-art facilities already installed. Amongst them, the pulsating, huge industrial heart of the Emirates, the world's largest industrial zone, “Jebel Ali Free Zone”, stands out with a port and airport included for the faster service of almost 7,000 companies that operate inside! 

Bur Dubai, Karama 

Leaving behind the overactive core of the development of Dubai, which warms up even more its motors to accommodate, with any certainty, the largest convention of investment and trade worldwide, at the EXPO 2020, we are moving towards the "old" Dubai. Here, in Bur Dubai and Karama, the oriental spirit is widespread since the people who build this architectural paradise live here: Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos, in their colorful neighborhoods and spicy restaurants have created their own microcosm and have integrated in the local society.

They are the labor hands, nonetheless they gaze into the future with optimism; huge complexes with apartments have been built especially for them, as they contribute to the economy as much as anyone else, something that lately you won’t meet in many European developed countries where they live in admittedly worse conditions. The bazaars with the oriental fragrance, the ripe honeyed dates and the scent of cardamom, the strong Indian curry, Chinese lanterns, Filipino shops, gold and spices, colors, flavors, aromas, all coexist effortlessly, beautifully, dynamically in this new hyper-Babel of the desert.

When the time comes, I’ll leave knowing that the huge economic chain of Dubai is well oiled and will continue spinning, as here everybody contributes, others more and others less, resulting in a modern diverse and inclusive culture: nowadays people are arriving by the thousands to this new metropolis, as they believe in its model of development; but that was not possible until after Dubai started believing in itself.

Published in KATHIMERINI ©, on February 2, 2013 (transl. & edited from greek, original here )

(All fotos by Kon Hans)


Burj Al Khalifa by day

Dubai Museum


Dubai Mall - exterior

Some small towers!

Dubai Mall - interior

The Gate - DIFC (Dubai International Financial Center)

Fountains, Burj Al Arab in Dubai Mall - exterior

Burj Al Khalifa by night

     
Dubai Mall - interior

Dubai Mall - exterior


And a small video I found on the internet which shows the growth of Dubai in 11 years, from 2000 to 2011, enjoy: http://gizmodo.com/5878930/eleven-years-of-dubais-insane-growth-seen-from-space

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