Sunday, May 06, 2007

Desist Already!

I have this idea in my head that a year or two ago Sheikh Mohammed announced a bit of a moratorium on announcements of new development projects. The moratorium was supposed to last five years, and the idea was that it would give the people and various gubment departments time to catch up with the new shape of things. I must have dreamed it.

This week is the monster exhibition, Arabian Travel Market, and since Dubai is basing a large chunk of its future on Travel and Tourism, this is when lots of announcements get made. So far we've had news that both the Jebel Ali and Deira Palms have been put on hold pending re-design (possibly related to the fact that if these projects get built as 'planned' there would not be a grain of sand left on the seabed of UAE territorial waters, and desert sand just will not do the job). That seemed like good news: after the experience of the Jebel Ali Palm it has become very clear that chucking a load of sand and rocks into the sea in the shape of a four-year-old's idea of what a palm tree looks like is somewhat more complex than you might imagine.


Announcements of more new stuff. The final phase of the Dubai Creek Extension that connects the Business Not-Much-Like-A-Bay body of water back to the Arabian Gulf. This effectively turns Bur Dubai and Jumeirah 1-and-a-bit into an island. [irony -->] I have no doubt whatsoever that the effects on water flow and ecology have been studied in great depth[<-- irony]. Gulf News had a diagram that shows the exact course of the Creek Extension. Apparently this stretch will be only 100 metres wide. 100 metres! Are you kidding?! It's not the Suez Canal or anything: the only traffic will be little motor boats, the odd rowing boat, and maybe a few abras (water-taxis). So, you lucky buggers who will still be in Dubai when this comes to pass: if you ever need to go west of Safa Park (or you live/work in West Dubai and need to go the other way) you will face the simultaneous buggeration of the newly-beautified Jumeirah Beach Road, Al Wasl Road and Sheikh Zayed Road while they build 100m bridges to span the Creek Extension. OUCH! Oh, and don't forget the Metro: that will have cross the water also. That was a minor announcement. Today we've had the news that Sheikh Mohammed has instructed Bawadi to have the biggest shopping area in the world.

Bawadi is a monster development of hotels, and hotels, and, er, hotels, out in the desert somewhere. The proposed shopping complex is slated to have more than 40 million square feet of GLA (Gross Leaseable Area). This is unimaginably horrible vast. I was at Mall of the Emirates yesterday, a mere tiddler of a mall with only 2.4 million square feet of GLA. After half-an-hour wasted trying to find a parking space, followed by a fair bit of walking around the mall trying to find various shops, I was overwhelmed, lost, disorientated and fed up.

Somebody, please tell me: what on Earth is the big deal about shopping malls? Yes I know, you go to a shop, it might have something you want, you might buy it. Or, in this region, it has free air-conditioning, the possibility of hanging out with your mates, etc. There never seems to be much actual buying of stuff going on (except at Carrefour).

Anyhoo, mustn't grumble: outta here in 2 months and 1 day. Jajaja.

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