View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Friday, September 28, 2007

What’s Up Doc? In Abu Dhabi?

In July 2006 it was announced that Abu Dhabi was establishing a franchise of the Guggenheim Museum, to be one element of a $27 billion financial district.

In January 2007 another part was revealed with the UAE capital paying between $800 million to $1 billion to open a branch of France’s Louvre.

Now, in September 2007, the Dhabi developers have disclosed another instalment of the dream, declaring that they are joining hands with Warner Bros. to build a theme park, film studio, hotel and cinema complex.

To a region that has traditionally been cautious towards Western influences, it is staggering to see the Abu Dhabi city planners moving stridently towards the Americanization of the Arabian Peninsula.

The international partners will be thrilled to do business with the cash flush capital of the Emirates but what do these developments say about Emirati culture? Is this the best that the UAE can do, to build replicas, to import foreign packages? Where is the imagination and creativity when millions of dollars are being spent on showcasing the American icons such as Bugs Bunny, Roadrunner and Scooby-Doo?

These developments seem largely to do with dollars and euros and little to do with promoting Arabic culture, indigenous entertainment and the historic treasures of this ancient peninsula.

Geoff Pound