Impressive engineering has produced the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building with more than 160 floors; the Burj Al Arab, the world’s tallest freestanding hotel with rooms starting at $1500.00 per night;
and the Palm Islands, a construction of three artificial islands in the shape of the date palm.
The Atlantis Hotel is open with rooms beginning at $1500.00 per night. There are other hotels planned and expected development of 500 apartments, 200 villas, numerous restaurants and many upscale shops.
The World Islands, a massive man-made group of 300 islands in the shape of the world has begun but only one island “Greenland” is completed. Individual islands were expected to sell between 6 and 37 million dollars. Unfortunately, the erosion of sand and other issues are causing many of the islands to sink back into the sea and the channels between to silt up.
The current financial recession has affected completion of many of these projects. Money for the full construction has diminished. In addition, the tourism that is needed to support the ongoing operation of these investments has not materialized to the extent expected.
From its inception, while I could very much marvel at the engineering involved, I was dismayed that the wealth of the Gulf region, once again, seemed to be more interested in catering to the wealthy. There has been considerable government expenditure to provide education, medical care and basic infrastructure for the average citizens within Dubai but not so for other peoples within the United Arab Emirates. Within Dubai there are also clear differences between nationalities and genders.
In a way, it is reminiscent of the Pharaoh’s great pyramids and storehouses, amazing to visit in this modern world, but built by the sweat of slaves. The Burj Khalifa itself took almost ten years to build and employed over 20,000 construction workers. While the workers who provide labor for the Dubai engineering projects are paid, their pay is very low, often only 6 days a week, 10 hours a day for $150 a month. (I am not expecting them to be paid U.S. wages, only what they were promised when they paid their way to come there to provide the workforce for these projects.) They often work long hours in the heat without adequate water and food. Living arrangements are overcrowded with inadequate sanitation and because of the multi-national situation, work groups tend to be segregated and housed in fenced enclaves, not permitted to walk about the city at all and visitors are not allowed.
There are so many places in this world to visit…..I for one do not plan to go to Dubai.