For a city that has been built on superlatives, it seems absurd to suggest that it is often under-estimated. Dubai plays host to the biggest, the tallest, the longest, and the largest of just about everything. It has golf, shopping, marinas, ski, spas, hotels and so very much more. The developmental creativity is mind-boggling and, with this in mind, it is of no surprise that it is often referred to as the “Las Vegas of the Middle East”. But this definition goes only a small way to describe all that Dubai has to offer.
Dubai is a modern metropolis that only 10 years ago had a population of 863,000. Today that figure has more than doubled to 1.87 million. It is internationally aclaimed for all of the aforementioned feats (and fears) of construction and tourism numbers see no sign of dropping off. Dubai has grown from being a settlement, known mostly for pearl trading, to become a major business hub. Many reaped the rewards of six grand years of boom before the crash of 2009 - the scale of which it seems only a city so used to such excess could achieve.
Today, much of the world seems happy to believe that the property market of Dubai remains on its knees (indeed, even Nakheel has reported a mass oversupply of residential properties that will take 5 years to resolve) and it cannot be denied that many a businessman has been burnt (if not thoroughly cremated) thanks to some recent turbulent economics. But that does not take into account the resilience of a destination that still possesses so much untapped potential. Whilst there may still be echoes of past agonies, it should not be overlooked that whilst the emergence of Dubai was rapid, it was not without forethought and discipline. The architects that created these masterpieces of construction were the some most talented of their time. Between the years of 2001 and 2006, Dubai managed to enjoy the highest rates of gross domestic product growth in the World. Exports grew by an astounding average of more than 28% annually from 2003 until 2008. And social factors have not been overlooked with education and healthcare services still continuing to improve.
I encourage anyone to take a journey on an arba around the lakes of the Madinat and be awed. And I doubt that there are few moments as inspiring as watching the waters leap to music at the foot of the Burj Khalifa.
It seems to be a part of human nature to look to the past for examples of beauty and architectural expertise. Where Dubai is concerned, perhaps we should take some confidence and look to the future.
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Text: Jenny Seed