In what may be destined to become known as the aborted grand finale of the oil economy’s final blow off, work has been halted on Dubai’s Nakheel Harbour & Tower, which was to be the tallest structure ever built by humans.

Meanwhile, construction continues on Dubai Metro, a 46-mile light rail line system with 47 stations, scheduled to open in September 2009, right around the same time light rail service will begin in Seattle.

Light rail in Dubai. Sure, why not? Of course!

The party in Dubai isn’t over yet, and the Nakheel Tower still may end up getting built. But the party will end eventually. And when it does, I wish them the best of luck with their city in the desert.

10 Responses to “Priorities”

  1. Boobskin

    Woohooo! I love oil and wish to marry it.

  2. Matt the Engineer

    I think their strategy has been very smart. Clearly they know that oil profits won’t last forever (though they will last much past peak oil, as people pay well for scarce resources). So what do you do with a massive pile of money? The smartest thing to do is invest it in something with an endless return. Building up their cities to worldwide tourist destinations, with a plan to later become financial centers, sounds like a good idea to me.

    To be fair, they are trying to find a way to build in a “green” way, though I’m not sure they really understand what that means yet. For instance, all projects are now required to achieve LEED silver – but does that mean anything when you have to dredge the ocean to build your “green” islands? Full disclosure: I worked on one of the Dubai projects.

  3. Dan Staley

    But the party will end eventually. And when it does, I wish them the best of luck with their city in the desert.

    “No man lives long when his dreams are dead.” Trouble is, our dreams don’t coincide with living lightly on this planet.

    I don’t often disagree with Matt, but I don’t see how tourism is an ‘endless return’. In a few short years, that teat will dry up as cheap energy will no longer be cheap.

  4. Keith

    I was under the impression that much of the lure is not just the tourists, but the businesses too with tax breaks and so forth?

    Abu Dhabi and Doha are (or were) scrambling to catch up.

  5. Cascadian

    I oppose much of what Dubai has built itself on in principle, but I find the sheer scale of what they imagine and create to be inspiring. That building would probably fail totally at creating a human-centered urban space, but it has a kind of beauty. Besides, I think about how hard it is to get even the simplest things done in Seattle and admire what’s possible when you follow a vision without regard for consequences.

    It would be nice to bottle that audacity and release it in the service of sustainable urban development.

  6. joshuadf

    Another word for Dubai’s “vision” in this case is “tyranny“.

  7. Dan Staley

    It would be nice to bottle that audacity and release it in the service of sustainable urban development.

    What Cascadian said.

  8. Matt the Engineer

    [Dan S] I hesitate to defend Dubai too strongly, but I see their long-term plan as aiming to be a financial center not a tourist destination. The tourism glitz brings in short-term dollars to help build infrastructure.

  9. PFG

    That first picture, with the boat, almost makes it look livable there. (It’s a lot like those pictures of Las Vegas taken in the early spring before it gets oppressively hot.)

    Still, I admire the UAEs’ effort to move their economies beyond oil. They are planning for an oil-less future, like Norway. It ain’t going to last forever.

  10. Sivalinga

    To point out that eternally-penultimating Dubai towers may not ever even become ‘finally’ completed and operational, as though this were an indication of their ‘failure’ as utilitarian objects, or as ‘architecture’ of some kind (or of any kind, for that matter); or to attempt in some way, by extension, to suggest that architects or investors working on such a project have committed some ‘sustainability sin’ synonymous with hubris or overreaching or ‘intelligence failures’, strikes me as being slightly a bit (or two) off-topic; it reminds me of a similar protest that might have loudly been made, back in the day, by some disgruntled, Capricorn, Chaldean day-laborer, lost to any historical record, mutely and mootly asserting that “development projects”, currently just-then breaking ground on the Gizeh Plateau, were evidences, in his day, at that time, on his watch, of some kind of clumsy, ill-omened, newfangled ‘pyramid scheme’ conspiracy.

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