Superlative City

I know it looks bad that we’re traveling to Dubai in the middle of a government shutdown but I promise, it actually was necessary. We entered Oman on 30-day tourist visas and had to exit for at least 24 hours in order to re-enter on student visas. Now it turned out that the student visas still weren’t ready so we are going to have to leave the country again but that’s another story.

But back to Dubai. We were there for three days and had a great time but it is definitely not somewhere that I need to go back anytime soon. It is definitely a sight to see with too many tall, sparkly buildings to count and endless shopping malls but the complete lack of original culture or society is disheartening. The city developed so quickly and was so overcome with wealth that it forgot to hold on to what had existed before.

Dubai was once home to a thriving Bedouin and maritime culture, the center of a lucrative pearl industry and a trading hub between the Middle East and Asia. It still is a center of commerce and business but no longer has any semblance of its own culture. Everywhere you turn there is another American brand of fast food or French clothing store. The second night we took a three hour bus tour of the city and it was basically a listing of all the impressive hotels, malls and palaces that have been built in the past few decades.

I don’t think I would have had such a problem with the city if there had been some end to all of their expansion and luxury. However, nothing there seems to have any point except to exist and impress people. The tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, which we visited, is almost entirely empty and the residences on Palm Island, the man-made island in the shape of a palm tree are mostly vacant.

It is a city filled with impressive things: the tallest building, the first, third and fourth tallest hotels, the largest mall, and countless other superlatives. But there is very little behind the glittery façade. And it is hard to stomach such extravagance and such tremendous wealth when it isn’t being used for any useful purpose.

Being in the record books is great but is it really worth the billions of dollars for a title?

I don’t think it is but all this being said the indoor ski slope is extremely cool and I had a great time gawking at the designer stores in the Dubai Mall. So I guess its neat that something like this place exists, but I’m glad my exchange is in Oman and not the land of sports cars and extremes.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Poppa
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 13:47:41

    Very interesting! Glitz isn’t everything, i guess. Sounds like a conglomerate of many other cities but no personality of its own. Thanks for sharing.


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