< Last Photo   << Last Chapter                Notes on the Geography of Places: The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai         Next Chapter >>   Next Photo > 

Notes on the Geography of The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai

First impressions of a city made for money.

Make default image size larger

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 1

Begin with the sureties.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 2

The sand once continued to the sea, but now the coastline has been altered with the construction of this artificial waterway (the West Side Marina( and a burst of residential construction.  The view is west, toward Jebel Ali Port.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 3

Looking inland from the same highrise vantage point toward what is euphemistically called the Emirates Hills neighborhood.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 4

Looking east toward the trompe l'oeil tower of the Hard Rock Cafe, whose windows fool the eye into seeing a much taller building than actually exists.  On the right, the Emirates Golf Club. Sure is toney, but nothing than the best will do.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 5

Looking to the eastern horizon, with the Sheikh Zayed highway on the right and in the distant left the iconic Burj Al Arab.  Dubai proper is 15 minutes straight ahead along the highway, assuming you avoid the long rush hour.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 6

Closer to the city: serious highrises along Sheikh Zayed.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 7

"Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 8

Talk about cultural appropriation.  If you're tired of Mercato-style pseudo-Italiana, how about a Thai-owned hotel?  Sawassdee.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 9

Zipping along Sheikh Zayed street.  What's missing?

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 10

Landscaping, silly.  Presto!

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 11

Commissioned by Dubai's CEO and designed by Tom Wright of W.S. Atkins, the Burj Al Arab is a commanding structure, even if you deplore the hype.  The floor plan is a V, with rooms along the arms and a concrete spine at the base, facing the water.  On the land side, a teflon and fiberglass sail closes the gap of the V and creates a 600-foot-high atrium.  The upper-level circular platforms are a restaurant on the water side and a helipad on the land; one critic has compared them to votive offerings, presumably to Mammon.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 12

The lighting at night changes color a couple of times a minute. The structure rests on 250 piers sunk 150 feet in the sand.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 13

What have we here?  On reflection, you'll see that it's an architectural model of another hotel.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 14

But what about this? Real or model?  Hard to tell. (It's the real thing.)

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 15

Behold the front side of Mina A' Salam, the "boutique hotel" (that's what they say) that constitutes the first stage of Madinat Jumeirah, a project of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. But of course.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 16

Hostile as you may want to be toward a project that says its "concept is one of 'old Arabia' in a totally luxurious context," it's hard to knock the staircases.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 17

Behind the hotel, the Mina a Salam itself, the "harbor of peace" with its own well-behaved dhow.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 18

A so-called souk takes shape next door.  You'll be disappointed if you go looking for the sheep guts that you'd find--all white, wet, and twisty--in a real one.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 19

Anyway, what is there to do when it's scorching hot outside, you don't need to watch your sheep, and you can't gamble?  Here's the answer in the form of the Deira City Centre Mall, which has an adjoining hotel and is very close to the airport.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 20


The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 21

You might be fooled if someone said you were in Singapore. For a minute, anyway.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 22

A nice reminder that you're not.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 23

What's the underlying attitude that equates feminine happiness with looking abused?  Somebody in an ad agency knows!

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 24

Tired of malls?  What about this?  Rub your eyes.  Wonder if the photo somehow got misfiled?  But stroll a bit.  

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 25

Are we in Italy?  If so, why all the fancy lighting?

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 26

Anything fishy about the middle building?

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 27

Yes, yes. "Many a time and oft in the Rialto you have rated me...."

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 28

You've figured it out?  Of course: it's the Mercato, designed by a bona fide Italian (Daniele Morelli).  It's in Jumeirah, described by Lorimer a century ago as "45 date branch huts... inhabited by... mixed tribes who are all fishermen and own among them 5 camels, 60 donkeys, 45 cattle and 200 sheep and goats."

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 29

The mall has 247,000 square feet of GLA or gross leasable area.  The project was financed by or through (who knows?) Abdul Rahim Al Zarooni, a local property developer.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 30

The mall axis.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 31

Count on it: the supermarket here is better than yours.  Among the choices: haram products for the many, many, many non-Muslims in Dubai.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 32

The Mercato by day; the tower has been pinched from Giotto's duomo in Florence.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 33

From the outside, the project occupies a superblock.  The Italian facade is maintained on all four sides. 

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 34

Across the street, a most peculiar housing development.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 35

Scores of identical single-family houses.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 36

The inspiration seems to have been powerhouses from the 1920s.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 37

A bit less cutting edge: the beach is only a couple of hundred yards away.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 38

By 2004, when the picture was taken, dredging had created Palm Island, where thousands of yet-to-be-built apartments had already been sold.

The U.A.E. (Dubai): Dubai picture 39

Keeping an eye out from next door. 

* Argentina * Australia * Austria * Bangladesh * Belgium * Botswana * Brazil * Burma / Myanmar * Cambodia (Angkor) * Canada (B.C.) * China * The Czech Republic * Egypt * Fiji * France * Germany * Ghana * Greece * Guyana * Hungary * India: Themes * Northern India * Peninsular India * Indonesia * Israel * Italy * Japan * Jerusalem * Jordan * Kenya * Laos * Kosovo * Malawi * Malaysia * Mauritius * Mexico * Micronesia (Pohnpei) * Morocco * Mozambique * Namibia * The Netherlands * New Zealand * Nigeria * Norway * Oman * Pakistan * Peru * The Philippines * Poland * Portugal * Romania (Transylvania) * Senegal * Singapore * South Africa * South Korea * Spain * Sri Lanka * Sudan * Syria (Aleppo) * Tanzania * Thailand * Trinidad * Turkey (Istanbul) * Uganda * The U.A.E. (Dubai) * The United Kingdom * The Eastern United States * The Western United States * Oklahoma * Uruguay * Uzbekistan * Vietnam * The West Bank * Yemen * Zambia * Zimbabwe *
go back to previous picture go to next chapter go to next picture go to previous chapter page