I was fortunate to spend the Holiday period visiting relatives in Dubai and since I have returned the questions that people ask me once they hear of my holiday destination are either about the Burj Dubai (or, should I say, the Burj Khalifa?) or the economic collapse. There has certainly been enough press on these two topics in recent months to make even the most uninformed person know a little bit about this relatively mysterious country. And of course people are interested in the story because none of us want to suffer through this economic downturn by ourselves, it probably comforts us to know that even the mighty wallet of Dubai is feeling the pinch.
And the press likes to draw a line between the flashy mega-skyscraper and the decline in the Dubai economy. Plenty has been written about the correlation between countries building such edifices and their imminent financial nosedives. Maybe it is inevitable that such a manifestation of financial aggrandizement would presage it’s own end…?
But, despite all of the reports, Dubai didn’t look to me like a place that was on hold. True, construction may have slowed down, but at the speed that Dubai builds it is still in the middle of a burst of expansion. The city has only really existed for thirty years or so and the Dubai of even ten years ago would be unrecognizable to most current visitors. In fact, most places I visited I was either told “five years ago this was all sand…” or “three years ago this was all water…”. This rate of progress is unimaginable. To most of us, at least.
However, one man did imagine this.
Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al-Maktoum had a vision for Dubai and set about creating the conditions that would allow this city to flourish.
My friend, Charles Day posted a blog yesterday about finally being convinced that anything is achievable: http://www.thelookinglass.com/blog/2010/1/11/never-again.html.
Construction may have slowed in Dubai but when I saw the news footage of the fireworks at the opening ceremony a few days after my return I couldn’t help feeling that the Burj Khalifa is another reminder that anything is possible.