“Dubai is trying to build itself a future as a great global city. In the process, it has become the largest architectural experiment on earth.”
Steve Rose in The Guardian:
Welcome to Greenland, a sun-drenched, palm-fringed island 100m across. On a clear day, or even an unclear day, you can see across to Canada. In fact you could swim to it in a couple of minutes, but at the moment, there’s nothing there except sand. Greenland, meanwhile, has a luxurious air-conditioned villa with an infinity pool – not that anyone lives in it yet.
This isn’t the real world, of course: it is The World, situated a couple of miles off the coast of Dubai, just next door to The Palm, a giant artificial island shaped like a stylised date palm, which gained national attention a couple of years ago when David Beckham and other England footballers bought luxury properties on its fronds. The World takes the whole concept one step further, laying some 300 new islands in a blurry Mercator projection. Both developments are run by the state-owned Nakheel company. As their sales literature puts it, “The Palm put Dubai on the map, The World is putting the map on Dubai.”
The World is the latest in a string of building projects that have made Dubai, the second largest of the United Arab Emirates, the most spectacular and outlandish architectural experiment on the planet. The country is relentlessly, almost obsessively, building itself into significance. Under the auspices of the crown prince Sheikh Mohammed and the rest of the ruling Maktoum family, Dubai is being transformed from a blank canvas into an Islamic fusion of Singapore and Vegas.