Dubai: The Story of the World’s Fastest City

From The Telegraph:

Dubaistory1_1498773f Dubai’s wealth came quickly, and it got a little carried away: artificial islands, gaudy hotels and pointy skyscrapers, spectacular or tasteless as they are, according to your viewpoint. But at first, wealth brought amenities we take for granted: running water, electricity, roads. Dubai’s first electric lights were hooked up in the Sixties. It put in taps and telephones around the same time. When the Emir of Qatar married a Dubai princess, the dowry was to pay for the city’s first tarmac road; a year later, he paid for a bridge connecting the emirate’s two halves. He probably felt sorry for his backward neighbour, which had just been taken over by his eccentric new father-in-law, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al-Maktoum. The sheikh’s eccentricity was shown in his determination that though he had seen nothing of the world, the world ought to know all about Dubai. He wanted the city’s name to be on everyone’s lips and he has certainly had his way.

In the late Forties, Dubai had suffered an extended famine in which people had eaten locusts, leaves and lizards in order to survive. Yet within a few years, Sheikh Rashid had ordered the Middle East’s biggest port, its tallest skyscraper and its largest airport. The rest is – well, not quite history because we can’t be sure how it will all turn out. By the time Sheikh Rashid died in 1991, Dubai was a commercial powerhouse, its port the most important in the Middle East. His successor, Sheikh Mohammed, extended his father’s methods, demanding ever more fantastical – some might say fanatical – monuments.

More here.