June 20, 2011

Dubai: No Past, Itinerant Future

Anne Applebaum, writing for Slate Magazine:

"Foreign travelers visiting New York or Chicago in the 19th century often came away with mixed impressions. Some found American cities ugly by comparison to their European counterparts: They seemed vulgar, blatantly commercial, lacking in taste.


I thought about those old visions of urban America not long ago while strolling through the Marina, a neighborhood in "new" Dubai (as opposed to "old" Dubai, mostly constructed in the 1970s). The architects were hired in 1999; the first phase was finished in 2004; soon the Marina will contain 120,000 people, along with hotels, restaurants, yacht moorings, shopping malls, and canals meant to remind visitors of Venice.

Dubai, and the other emirates, might be the new world of the twenty-first century. But it's a land without history and short on permanent residents. Can one go there and just disappear? A short essay on her visit there by Anne Applebaum.