A cross between Vegas and Mississauga, Dubai is in danger of becoming a ruin-in-waiting

(Source: The Toronto Star)

DUBAI – If this really is a city and not some sheikh’s mad idea of what a metropolis should be, it’s a city despite itself.

Its vast wealth notwithstanding, the things that make Dubai liveable are those that happened when the planners weren’t looking. But life will out, even in a city built by oil-fuelled hubris.

To most, the image conjured up by Dubai is one of superlatives: This is the location of the world’s tallest tower (the Burj Dubai), the world’s most expensive hotel (the Burj Al Arab), the world’s richest horse race (the Dubai World Cup), the world’s … Well, you get the idea.

And not to be outdone, there’s the brand new The Tiger Woods Dubai, a golf course in the desert that requires four million gallons of water a day to stay green. This in a country built on sand.

It’s also the site of some of the planet’s worst congestion. It’s not just that everyone here drives; everyone drives badly. In March 8 of last year, for example, three people were killed and 277 injured in a highway pile-up that involved more than 200 vehicles.

Still, it’s hard not to be impressed by what has been accomplished here. The extent of this ruin-in-waiting is truly mind-boggling.

Read Christopher Hume’s full article “Dubai: How not to build a city” in the Toronto Star (April 5, 2009).

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