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Dubai, the city of the future?

‘I can’t say our historical European mindset is quite ready, but we better buckle-up, as evident with Dubai, capitalism stops for no-one.’

Beautiful Dubai was the destination for Christmas weekend 2016 for my family. Despite my best efforts to convince people that I had been to Dubai before; my memory of the city was mere fabrication. I don’t think I could’ve ever imagined Dubai like I saw it in December. We all have our expectations, but for me, I still can’t quite conceptualise my feelings. Dubai is great but there’s something just not quite right. To exemplify this thought, the airport. Now, quite rightly, every city wants their international airport to be a flagship property and to represent the values that the city strives to attain. Marble, marble, marble everywhere. I felt like a crow, shiny objects all around me. That’s where it all started, my confusion and critique of Dubai, has now sparked an intrigued fascination.

One can imagine a stereotyped capitalists’ utopia, full of multimillion pound houses and garages of cars. Imagine that image, and multiply that to every square footage of an entire city. The history of Dubai is as long as my parents lives, it’s staggering that a world city that has truly transformed our lives, only arrived a generation ago. Everyone in Dubai who has a share of the wealth seems to own a Ford Mustang, that seems to be the fashion statement; doesn’t compare to seventeen year-olds in the UK with their Vauxhall Corsas though. The metro system consists of two lines, compared to London’s eleven. Additionally, unlike most transportation systems, the stations are named after the business that surrounds the station, for example; DAMAC Properties and ADCB. Furthermore, the city seemingly has been created to provide an entertainment complex at every mall; you can ski, go to the aquarium and a theme park and that’s all in Dubai Mall. The government is trying to provide create a tourist’s paradise surrounded by financial capital. But there’s no speciality, and that’s where I struggle to comprehend the exact purpose of Dubai.

Without pulling out statistics from national databases, I could honestly say that within the malls and in the taxis and all the icons of Dubai’s ‘culture’; there was possibly a maximum of 10% native Emiratis in positions of work. Where are they, do you ask? You have to take a trip to the Golden Souk to find the natives, they work tirelessly to sell ‘authentic’ watches and jewellery as well as the crown jewel of the Dubai desert; dates. This is a reversal in geographic thinking; this is clear urban out-migration; the local population have been pushed out of where they used to occupy.

Is this what we can expect from new, up-and-coming cities in the future? A city which epitomises the meaning of capitalism. A city that has truly encapsulated the concept of globalisation. I was in awe of how a city so young, could be creating waves in architectural and cultural progressions. I can’t say our historical European mindset is quite ready, but we better buckle-up, as evident with Dubai, capitalism stops for no-one.

Image: Leandro Neumann Ciuffo/flickr

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