Dubai: the city of the 21st century!


I came across these two interesting sites on Dubai (United Arab Emirates), one from the Bidoun magazine the other by Mike Davis.
A lot of new construction is going on.
Forget about New York. Is Dubai the city of the 21st C?

Jul 18, 05 4:02 pm

those palm developments are insane--they seem like something you'd only see on another planet. "hmm, real estate is getting expensive. what if we just dump dirt into the sea and create new land?" that's crazy! what if all coastal cities in the developed world caught onto this? but i do love the qu'ran passages: "yeah, I live at allah #12"

Jul 18, 05 4:07 pm

Here's how the Burj Dubai (the 2x Empire State Building tower mentioned in the article) stacks up against the rest:

Jul 18, 05 6:25 pm

Is effen astonishing how many repulsive buildings there are yet to be built....!

Butt Uglay.

Jul 18, 05 6:44 pm

That's just the ones under construction... if you include proposed buildings in the search, you'll see the really out-there ones...

There's another tower in Dubai, under proposal, which dwarfs the Burj Dubai -- the body of it (not the spire) goes up to 2100 ft (and the spire to 2450 ft).

Jul 18, 05 7:32 pm
brian buchalski

well, on the bright side, it would appear that in a few years the terrorists won't have to waste their time coming to america to blow up icons of the demon western culture, they'll have plenty in their own neighborhood.

Jul 18, 05 7:40 pm
Jul 18, 05 8:34 pm

Dubai's gonna be a 19th Century city when we figure out how to get them flying hydrogen cars into production.

Jul 18, 05 9:50 pm

Also, check out-
for the latest photos on on megaprojects.

Jul 19, 05 3:06 am

I am an architect from india. i had always heard of dubai, i would like to work in such like this which is aimed at creating icons of architecture. If anyone has any weblinks to that effect kindly forward me at

Jul 19, 05 3:28 am

icons maybe - but good icons...?

Jul 19, 05 4:02 am

right on mystery man, or when that fusion rector cranks up in japan.

Jul 19, 05 5:29 am

Wait 'til Ed Begley, jr's car powered by his high sense of self-esteem hits the market.

Jul 19, 05 8:17 am
le bossman

i think dubai is where all of the gansters from bombay hang out

Jul 19, 05 12:52 pm

"Futuristic Dubai presents an architect's paradise" read on:
"...The emirate is fast becoming an architect's playground as more and more outlandish structures take it closer to its dream of being the world's most visually striking metropolis."

Jul 19, 05 1:00 pm

hey nike : dubai is great, dubai is fabulous , dubai is everything ..... but not for all ! remember there is hidden racism there ... only white blond us/eu guys are welcomed to work as architect or any high class jobs ... no place for anything! else
but your money is always welcomed !

Jul 20, 05 1:57 am

thank you people for your comments, i hope to find something through these links.

Jul 20, 05 2:12 am

Hi Yenafar,
If there is Raceism in Dubai there is class discrimination back here sometimes you are either not hep enough or you dont have the right contacts to get a project. So if i have to fight raceism there i guess its not major, also I am not interested in getting a project of my own i want to work with somebody to learn. For i believe that learning evolves a person and stagnation is death (death for creativity).
Thanks for the insight anyways yenafar.

Jul 20, 05 2:24 am

Hi le bossman,
I live in bombay so does this mean that i am currently hanging out with gangster. Cause when they (gangsters) are not in bombay, they are in dubai.
Thanks anyways, if i go there i will take care.

Jul 20, 05 2:27 am

holy shit, roy! that building looked tall enough next to all the skyscrapers in the other diagram, but in the context of dubai, it looks insane!

Jul 20, 05 8:02 am

Jul 20, 05 8:15 am

Jul 20, 05 8:16 am

Jul 20, 05 8:16 am

I agree, five.
The above residentail skyscraper is designed by SOM and it is currently under construction! I think they are just finishing foundations. Some of the flats are already sold.

Jul 20, 05 10:31 am

interesting point puddles. so is som the real dubya hero here then? building the targets over there so ours aren't blown up over here?

Jul 20, 05 12:07 pm

"The emirate is fast becoming an architect's playground as more and more outlandish structures take it closer to its dream of being the world's most visually striking metropolis.
Architects are flocking to the city of 1.3 million where a construction boom fuelled by another surge in Gulf petrodollar wealth is changing the landscape.
Dubai has hundreds of architect offices now, employing thousands of architects and designers. We are bringing (them) from all over the world, and yet it's not enough for the work available," said Falah al-Salman, an Iraqi-Canadian architect in Dubai."

Does anybody know of any good arch. offices there for work?

Jul 21, 05 12:32 am

Has anybody worked in Dubai recenly?
What kinda salaries for architects there?

Jul 23, 05 12:51 pm

Read "Futuristic Dubai presents an architect's paradise"

Aug 5, 05 2:11 pm

i was thinking today about dubai.. it occurred to me that in about 20 years (maybe less?) it may very well turn in to a dead city. automobile use worldwide is growing so fast that it's going to force oil out of the market in favor of something synthetic that can be produced en masse. when that happens, poof, the "oil bubble" will pop, even worse than the dotcom pop. because when the oil's gone, there's nothing left there to attract capital. you heard it here first. i wouldn't invest long-term career plans there, or anything else for that matter. that's just me of course.
so i'm now imagining all those vacated architectural goliaths out in the the desert, juxtaposed against the sea and the sky. it may finally become a beautiful city once it turns in to a giant slum. if i have the resources, i intend to shoot a movie there when it blooms in to full decay. in fact, i'm going to start writing the story right now.

Aug 5, 05 4:43 pm
Alan Loomis

also read Mike Davis' missive on Dubai:

Aug 5, 05 4:44 pm

GREAT article.

Aug 5, 05 5:02 pm

abra interviews 'MO', the ruler of dubai.
episode 18
Dubai is playing a big game of 'the end of oil, than what?' gamble. developing first class fantasy turism and regional open market center, a small hong kong. it has a good chance of winning out. there is a successful turism track record and related developments. in the west, we have a condesending view of arabs in general and imagining the exhodus of humanity from the desert, when the oil depletes. this is not necessarily 'their' plans. they were there before the oil and will be there after, perhaps by owning and operating, banks, factories, investment corporations etc, globaly, as they are doing now. from the headquarters they are building there, connected to the world.

heterarchy, here is a film location you might like near san bernerdino.

Aug 5, 05 5:59 pm
Aug 5, 05 6:02 pm
sporadic supernova

Ok guys,

I'm currently working in Dubai with an international architecture firm .. and have been here for a while...

this is what i have to say for architectural possibilities here "WONDERFULL"

and this is what i have to say to the current (and proposed)architecture here "CRAP!!!!"

the architecture here does not reflect anything about the region .. blistering hot climate (sometimes.. like yesterday.. the temperature goes upto 55c) and they have buildings clothed with glass!!!! .. these rich sheikhs here have too much money .. and they spend a ton on air conditioning !!

most of the buildings here are running at a loss. The "Burj - al - arab" ( the famous iconic hotel in dubai) is running at such a major loss and they have an occupancy rate of maybe over 5% .. but of course it wont be told officially. the rest of the world hear's what the Sheikhs want them to hear.

trust me ... it's crazy out here ... but lots of money to be made and lots and lots of interesting projects. but again .. everuthing is artificial. The famous palm islands and the world islands and refered to as the slums on the sea . what they show here is different and what it actually is, is different. they are on a race to make "the biggest", "the tallest", "the smallest", "the longest", "the shortest" etc ..etc .. you get the drift right ?. anyway.. all i have to say is that it is nothing to go crazy about. A lay man might find all this wonderfull, but to an architect, it's all CRAP. Duabi is like a nice shiney balloon- it's all nice and shiney on the outside ... but inside, it's all gas !!

p.s. - about the racial issue ... sigh .. it's true .. if you're white and dont know the difference between a beam and a column, then head down to dubai .. you can make a lot of money !! I'm an Indian .. and my (white) CAD draftsman (19 yr old) makes more than me - i wont discuss this anymore already depressed about it !!!

Aug 6, 05 6:08 am

I'm Indian too. I was seriously considering going to Dubai to make a quick buck.. but now I'm reconsidering. How many Indians on this board? I'm from and in Bangalore right now.

Aug 6, 05 11:29 am
the cellardoor whore

if the 21st century has only Dubia to offer, as per slogan, then *yawn*.

After the Novelty wears off, its boring. My sister and friend live and work there. Like other 'up'n'coming' cities in the gulf region, its all about mking money and babies.In an odd way, an evangelist would love it there, suburban urbanism to the max. Except you have to water your plants every other hour. And we come here to the most intruiging idea the Gulf has to offer: desalination.

I do find the idea of wiping desert sand off glass buildings and sweeping it off pavements rather alluring though. The desert remembers; its an everymorning game of Tag-You're It.

Aug 6, 05 12:12 pm

I heard the Vatican is thinking about buying all the Dubai island reenactments and then build churches on them. It's the only way that they can think of to make the Middle East more Catholic again.

Aug 6, 05 12:21 pm

"Mo-Pope Realtors"

Aug 6, 05 1:42 pm
sporadic supernova

Manu ... you can still make a fast buck ... but the caucasian makes more.. even if you are better than him. such is life ...

rita:- lol at the vatican's idea ... but it wont work ...

Aug 7, 05 5:48 am

What are architect's salaries like in Dubai?

I know this is making me look like I dont give a crap about design or further education, but of late I've started to appreciate how important money is.

Aug 7, 05 1:39 pm

Architecture in Dubai can be as good or as bad as with any other commercial architecture around the globe. But it is definately more impressive.
There is very little xenophobia in Dubai: 85% of the population are expatriates, anyway. Anybody can work there, if sponsored by a company / employer.

Graduate Architects may get around US$ 2,000/month (tax free) with or without housing. Cost of living can be very. Food is very cheap.
Architects with average experience / experinced technical staff, around US$ 3,000-/month.
Senior Architects may get at least US$ 5,000/month plus (tax free, housing, travel allowances, medical etc.).

Aug 7, 05 2:14 pm

Thanks Roy.

Heterarchy- Dubai has nothing to do with oil and everything to do with trade, from what I've heard.

Aug 7, 05 3:12 pm
the cellardoor whore

the point is not how this so-called 'commercial architecture' in Dubia compares with that elsewhere, but the lack of anything but. In itself, yes Dubai is, say, the mall phenomenon is interesting. An intense anthropology of Olympian iconic blandness ...Tall,Taller,Tallest...Rich, Richer,Richest. But the interest is lost when each project is tackled on
its own.

Of course you can also choose to work on the palaces, Rita's pet obsession, reenact..say Versailles or Al-Hambra..depending on where your prince/ss has been to last. If the prince has a pet, he might ask for its own palace.

With regard to xenophobia, you are right. But there is an obvious class system with which the Gulf operates. Predominantly South Asian and African at the very bottom , passing through the Philippinos/Malaysian/Indonesian (technicians, nannies,waiters) , the Arabs (with their own hierarchy: Moroccan,Alegerian,Egyptian-Syrian,Palestinian-Lebanese) , 'course Europeans/Americans, then rich Gulf Arabs (likely to be the ultimate client or owners of company). The status quo is accepted at face value, your profession and your pay are
determined accordingly. This might not be seen as 'racist' ,perhaps, for a very simple reason. The notion of racism and its politics (pro or contra) are not as rife as in Europe or the States. For instance, many people still use the arabic word for 'slave' to denote ' black person', however the same word is also used to describe a devout worshipper of the Islamic 'Allah' and the name is a common first name in the Arab Middle East. The nauances differ and the sensitivities differ, but the class-by-race division is rather nauseating however you want to call it.

Money, yes...modern slave market. I'm hardly being smug here, I'm also a whore....for now.

Aug 7, 05 4:48 pm

Funny how reenactment is really much, much more global than merely "Rita's pet obsession."

Aug 7, 05 4:55 pm
sporadic supernova

Roy is bang on, with regards to the salary structure here ...
and it's true that the architecture here is very interesting ... but ... ( there are always buts !!! )

cellardoor w. :- racism is very dominant here, as the salary structure is based on the colour of your skin and not the ability of the person .. btw .. are you from Dubai ??

anyway .. here's an entry from one of my fav. bloggers (dubai secret dairy) from the UAE ... and this is true to the word:-

The Big and the Beautiful
Dubai cannot stop building the world's biggest things. The obsession started with The Palm, the world's largest artificial island. It's not any more though, because another two are being built, each bigger and better than the original.

Also planned is Burj Dubai, set to be the world's tallest tower if Emaar gets its way, and Al Burj, set to be the world's tallest tower if Nakheel wins out. Al Burj is also part of world's largest waterfront development project.

Not forgetting the world's biggest theme park, the world's tallest hotel, the world's longest indoor ski slope, the world's largest man-made port, and what is quite likely to end up the world's greatest capacity airport. Looking into the crystal ball, we even see the arrival of the world's largest crystal dome.

And the world's tallest wheel, like a five-star megalithic version of the London Eye. It's expected to cost US$150,000,000 and be:

"a 600-foot tall high-tech attraction that would have, upon completion, the capacity of 7,500,000 guests per year with an average individual ride ticket of $18.00. We anticipate that each Observation Wheel would consist of 30 Orbitors seating 20 passengers and making a complete revolution approximately every 27 minutes."

Best of all, Dubai is of course building the entire world, enabling the rich and powerful to take over nations and continents, rebuilding them to their own requirements, without interference from the UN and other fromage-eating-surrender monkeys.

Aug 8, 05 12:38 am
the cellardoor whore

no I am not,sporadic. Fromage-eating-surrender monkeys? Entire world? How very pointful.

reenactment is reenactment if you want it to be, Rita.
There is a fold- you have to reenact the meaning of reenactment in order to claim reenactment . And you do, always. A deliberate Don Quixote of reenactment. Doing so, you have transferred the potency of reenactment (it is no longer really of significance) to the autistic act of always pointing at it. Deliberate or not, it is your tailored autism that is its own theme, not reenactment.

Everything and anything is global, including the subject matter of pet obsessions. Tautology is not funny.


Aug 8, 05 3:24 pm
liberty bell

sporadic, just out of curiosity - what about women? Could a Caucasian female architect go to Dubai and hope to get a decent job/be respected by coworkers/earn beaucoup bucks? I can't imagine it would be so. I'm not considering doing it, I've just always been curious - when people describe the opportunites in developing foreign markets I often feel that it's unspoken that women are shut out of those markets.

Aug 8, 05 3:35 pm

i disagree with the people who say dubai is gonna burst... they might slow down, but the middle east needs a capital... just as New York, London Hong Kong or Toky is tho thier respective areas, Dubai is seeking the same status... right now, they are breaking thier necks trying to build up the city as quckly as possible becasue they are well aware that oil will not provide wealth forever... thier efforts are in attracting international commerce, and tourism. It is very similar to any developing city. Chicago developed as giant slaughter house, and has developed over the years into a comercial center, New york and london were important trading posts...

dubai will be a successful city, and perhaps the middle easts first internationally recognized comercial capital... i think its just a matter of time, there is too much wealth and too much power developing in the middle east and south asia for dubai to fizzle

Aug 8, 05 3:57 pm

put the bombs between the minaretes

Aug 8, 05 4:13 pm

cellardoor whore, ever count how many times Allen, Bloomer, Eisenman and Kwinter tautologically reenact Tafuri when it comes to Piranesi? And you say tautology isn't funny. You're right. It's hilarious.

"reenactment is reenactment" -- that reenacts Stein, right?
"there is a fold" -- that reenacts Deleuze, right?
"it is no longer really of significance" -- that's multiple choice, right?

Hey, let's meet up on our own little island off Dubai, and lets do some reenacting of our own.

Aug 8, 05 4:54 pm

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