Working on a business magazine that reports on Dubai’s latest building boom, I get the scoop on the multibillion-dollar megaprojects that the emirate is so fond of.
By these, I mean things like the planned Bollywood theme park, the life-like dinosaur park, the double-decking of Sheikh Zayed Road, the new skyscrapers, and secretive projects such as the 2008 plans to build a Union Canal through Al-Quoz.
The schemes that are the most intriguing are the more fanciful ones, even if they tend to borrow from other parts of the world.
Eighteen months ago, the emirate announced it intended to build a replica of the Taj Mahal (only bigger) and a copy of the Egyptian pyramids containing offices and a museum.
This was the first clue that Dubai was moving on from a debt crisis the size of China quicker than you could say ‘refrigerated beach’.
Now, not only is there a whole new city being built (with 100 hotels, a Universal Studios and a park bigger than London’s Hyde Park), but work is also underway to create a new island off the coastline that will cradle the Dubai Eye. There are plans to build an opera house next to the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall is being extended and, of course, there’s an Expo to host.
When a photo was emailed to me at work recently, it occurred to me that if we were REALLY rich, we’d invest in a waterfront property along the gondola-serviced mini-Venice currently being excavated:
But, then, as I was driving home, I was reminded by a gigantic, oversized billboard poster that there’s a development springing up in our neighbourhood (which, when we moved here five years ago, was just barren desert) boldly advertising itself as The Beverly Hills of Dubai. Eat your heart out Al Barari!
The cheesy billboard (pictured below) makes me laugh, not least because the scrubby landscape beyond the huge advert is as flat as a pancake and distinctly sandy coloured, not green. But when you look into it, the proposed development is rather impressive: comprising high-class villas, townhouses, and an 18-hole golf course, to be named Trump International Golf Club after the eccentric US businessman.
And that’s not all: also being built in our area is Akoya Drive, which will apparently be modeled on Paris’ Champs Elysees, with shopping, a cinema screen, and (no kidding) an outdoor artificial ice skating rink.
Looks like we should stay put in the ‘Dubai belt’, after all. See you on Rodeo Drive – in six years’ time!