Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The real Dubai

A must-read article by Johann Hari.

8 comments:

jatkesha said...

Have you read this?

km said...

I am trying to dig up an American architect's rant over Dubai. Will add it here when I find it.

Space Bar said...

km: i think that's the same one i've been trying to find for luddo. now where did i read it recently...

km said...

Rahul/Space Bar, found it.

Some of the points in the rant are a little off the mark but still some good stuff in there.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

jatkesha - thanks for the link. I hadn't read it. Interesting that the writer "fucking hates Dubai" without mentioning any of the ugly things that Hari does.

km - thanks for that too. Similar comments apply. I agree that it's the people who make a city, so Mumbai despite its chaos can aspire to be the next Manhattan, but certainly not Dubai.

Space Bar said...

km: that wasn't the one i was thinking of...something about dubai being a ghost town. sigh. will look around.

Sunil Mukhi said...

Interesting article and no doubt most of it is accurate. But do I detect more than a trace of orientalism here?

The "Taking on the Desert" section is particularly revealing - with its opening line: "The very earth is trying to repel Dubai, to dry it up and blow it away." and the followup: "Sheikh Maktoum built his showcase city in a place with no useable water. None." I'm suspicious of the implication, not openly stated but present nonetheless, that Arabs ought to accept the heat of the desert as their fate rather than try to conquer it through technology. One doesn't encounter similar narratives when it comes to Swedes and Canadians conquering the bitter cold of their environments. Instead they are portrayed as "hardy" and seem to be doing what's natural for brave white men to do.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Sunil - interesting point. This business of the desert always winning is, I think, entrenched in Western consciousness (cf Ozymandias). As for technology: the article says desalinated water costs more than petrol to produce, but the claims for the desalination plants for Chennai are that it won't be much more expensive than regular water. I wonder.