Sunday, July 2, 2006
Can giant land use projects make a nation? Dubai certainly appears to think so; perhaps no other place in the world has spent more money and effort on huge projects than the once obscure and poor emirate on the eastern Persian Gulf. From the world's largest man-made port, to the world's tallest hotel in a 1000-feet-high sail-shaped structure built on a man-made island, to one of the world's largest airports, to plans for the world's tallest building, Dubai attracts tourists, architects, and expatriates from all over Asia, and copious attention for its lavish buildings, public places, and infrastructure. Costs include huge traffic backups and a critical housing shortage from workers drawn from across the globe. But if one wants to "see the future," one went to New York in 1950, to Tokyo in 1990, and perhaps to Dubai today.