Thanks to the near collapse of one of the most rapidly growing cities in the world, we are once again reminded of the poison that drives such economic destruction: ego and greed.
Dubai is one of seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates, located south of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula. Its land mass is tiny by Canadian standards—smaller than Prince Edward Island. The current population is about 1.9 million of which the vast majority are foreigners.
Around two years ago, CBC aired a television documentary (Dubai: Miracle or Mirage) about the amazing Dubai construction ventures spearheaded by its ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. He wanted to showcase this small municipality as the most impressive global city in the world. In the CBC piece, he spoke of his desire to create the biggest, the tallest, the best, and the most decadent landmarks known to man. (Have a look at Lauren Greenfield’s fascinating New York Times photo exhibit, depicting Dubai’s construction boom and subsequent collapse: Showcase: Dubai’s Improbable Tale.)
When developers and architects told the Sheik that it was unfeasible to build the amount of waterfront properties that he had in mind, he told them that nothing was impossible. They must simply take his vision and make it a reality. Since there was limited coastline, and no possibility for further development along the shore, there was only one way to conjure up more property: create it. And so they did.