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

Monday, June 9, 2008

UAE’s Erection Complex

The UAE is obsessed with erections—the tallest, the fanciest, the most eye-catching skyscrapers the architects can create.

I am a regular visitor to Brett Siegel’s very fine web site, UAE Mega Projects, but one of his recent posts, in which he listed Dubai’s Top 100 Skyscrapers, got me thinking. Is the greatest of a metropolis gauged by the height or number of its buildings? Will the Burj Dubai, which according to The National is going to be higher than originally intended, become the monument of all monuments to Dubai’s greatness?

It can be pleasing to the eye to see a building that is a work of art and a towering mountain or building can be breathtaking whatever way you look.

Recently one of the major newspapers in the UAE (Gulf News) has been featuring the issue of national identity—how does it develop? What promotes a healthy cultural identity?

The race to have the tallest building in the world is like an adolescent trying hard to be somebody. It suggests a flaunting of riches and size—‘Look at me!’ It might impress for a few moments but it does little to build a robust cultural and national identity.

If the UAE began to innovate in clean energy for all of the country (not just Masdar)…
If the UAE raised the salaries of its teachers from Dh4,000 to build an effective education system…
If the UAE improved the health system so the nurse-patient ratio was the best in the world…
If the UAE welcomed people to become permanent residents and not just laid out the welcome mat to get their employment services…
Then this would help build national pride, construct a strong sense of community and enable all its people to stand tall.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “The UAE is obsessed with erections.” Burj Dubai rising higher.