Mirage City

Dubai must be the easiest target in the world to venture a critical opinion on, but predictability aside the unnerving sensation of being in a totally manufactured environment cannot be underplayed.  I’m not sure I’d ever seen anything but aerial photos of Dubai but beneath the towers it’s surprisingly dense.  Crawling traffic where once was just sand. Out on the street it’s too hot; inside every building it’s too cold. The city is one thunderous discord between nature and construct. 

In fact, it is just incredibly boring.  Short on cash, there is little beyond wandering about a vast mall (shops, restaurants, aquarium and ice-rink) in a jumper.  Well, there is the Burj.  It turns out the viewing platform is not at the top, but it reveals a mesmerising sight nonetheless - a hallucination of spirals and blocks etched in the sand, evenly spaced trees, bright chlorinated pools that aren’t for swimming in. 

With my nose pressed against the window it occurred to me just how oddly passé the idea of building the world’s tallest tower is.  Out in the Arabian Sea, I spy that crudely drawn atlas insisting Dubai is not merely a small city within the world, but an empire that contains the world.  So; monuments, territory, hubris, perhaps Dubai really is an empire. 

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