Friday, 14 November 2008


After an overnight flight on Thursday evening, I arrived in at the hotel about 8 am, and had to wait in the lobby for up to two hours while the room was prepared. I found Stephen Gruneberg in the same situation, and he looked shattered having not slept a wink on his flight. While we sat with coffee, plenty of other colleagues were arriving or just passing by and stopping for a chat. After finally getting my room, I got washed and changed. The newly opened Dubai Mall was across the road. With 4,500(!) shops, I thought I'd go for a stroll to stretch my legs. There was nowhere else to head for, being surrounded with building sites. It was getting on for lunchtime, and there was a food court in there, but it was literally heaving with people, with long queues and no spare seats. Many people were eating their lunch standing up. There was a lot of excitement at a giant two-storey aquarium stuffed with sharks, rays and various shoals of fish. It was hard to get interested in such an overstated and ostentatious display, especially among the shops of famous designer labels, fashion houses and all the jewellery and gold. The incongruity of an artificial piece of the marine environment in a shopping mall was, somehow, a sign of just how wrong this all felt. The mall is filled with the excited noise of people wandering around the shops and getting excited by all the opportunities to buy very expensive things. The prices are generally very high, and the stuff on sale is generally quite useless, unless you need to demonstrate to the world how rich you are, which seems to be the national pastime here.

The registration and reception was that evening and it was great to catch up with all my old friends before the conference started in earnest the next day.

Dubai is bigger than I imagined, and a lot dirtier that I'd imagined, due to the gigantic scale of the construction work under way. The world's tallest building is under construction near my hotel, and it is jaw-droppingly tall. It is broad at the base, and gets increasingly slender, in steps, as it gets higher. The upper floors are very slender indeed.

1 comment:

Michael Quigley said...

Hi Will,

I think the main problem was that the tagline "Transformation through Construction" in todays climate could have meant "moving towards suitainable buildings" rather than the Dubai "moving away from sustainable buildings".

Dunai, in my opinion: Interesting, expensive, over-crowded, becoming open to other cultures and unsustainable.

Mike Quigley

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