Indeed Dubai is not a country! The Emirate of Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the country we know as the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These seven emirates (erstwhile British protectorate) united to form one sovereign state in December 1971. Dubai is also the name of the port city that forms the capital of the Emirate of Dubai.
An emirate is a territory governed by an Emir (a royal who inherits the position) and the UAE is a federation of seven such emirates. The seven emirs of the UAE make up an electoral college that votes and elects the President and the Prime Minister of the country. The Emirate of Dubai, like the other six emirates, has its own government and set of laws. It maintains an independent judiciary and has its own budget.
The Emirate of Dubai is bordered by the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Sharjah to the south and north east and the Persian Gulf to the northwest. Of the seven emirates, the Emirate of Dubai and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi are considered most important as they retain the right to exercise a veto in important policy matters raised at the legislature. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Emir of Dubai is currently the Vice President and the Prime Minister of the UAE.
Dubai city is one of the most prosperous cities in the world, apart from being one of the most important cities of the country. Not only is it the largest city in the country but is also the most populous city in all of UAE. It is an international trade and financial hub and is home to thousands of multinational corporations. Dubai city is also one of the best-known tourist destinations in the Middle East. Dubai has come to be known for its iconic skyscrapers and high-rises. In fact, the tallest building of the world, the Burj Khalifa (2712 feet) is located in Dubai. It is also home to the Palm Islands, some of the largest artificial islands in the world.
Dubai is known for its excess. Everything is shiny and new; an oasis of lavishness planted in the shifting sands of an endless desert. But years ago, they did something so lavish it made everything else–all the gold-plated Lamborghinis, the Burg Khalifa, and the glittering fountains–pale in comparison. Called The World, it’s a massive man-made archipelago in the shape of the countries of earth, so large it can be seen from space. Now, though, it’s reportedly sinking.
Developers of The World had grand ambitions. When they were first constructed, they were to be full of hotels and luxury homes, sold exclusively to the super rich. Accessible only by boat (read: mega-yacht), the islands of The World were sold off to the highest bidders. Owners could then claim they owned Ireland, or Britain, or whatever chunk of The World they purchased.
According to Nakheel, the developer, some 70% of the 300 islands were sold before reports that the islands are sinking into the sea began hitting the news. Now, most of the development on all but one of the islands has been halted. Greenland, however, is still under construction. That’s because the ruler of Dubai lives there. The failure has been a few years in the making: when property prices in Dubai tanked after the Emirates basically went bust, most of the investors in The World weren’t able to continue financing continuing work.
But a crippled real estate market wasn’t the only problem. The project was plagued by a series of events that foreshadowed what was to come. A man named John O’Dolan bought Ireland for nearly £25 million, then killed himself. Safi Qurashi bought Britain, then was sent to prison for bouncing checks. In 2009, Nakeel has to be bailed out of a $25 billion debt. And now the company that payed to own the rights to ferry people to the islands is bringing a case against Nakheel. “The islands are gradually falling back into the sea,” said Richard Wilmot-Smith of Penguin Marine to The Telegraph.
According to Penguin Marine, the sand used to build the islands is slowly falling back into the sea from where it came. The channels between the islands are filling back in, and if it continues on this way, the entire World will soon be back beneath the surface of the ocean. A strange metaphor for sea-level rise, to say the least. And I ain’t a religious man, but I’ll be damned if the Bible didn’t see this one coming. It’s a foolish man who builds his house on sand, or something like that.
Nakheel, though, disagrees with the evidence Penguin showed that the islands are sinking. “Our periodical monitoring survey over the past three years didn’t observe any substantial erosion that requires sand nourishment,” a from a company spokesperson statement said. They do not, however, dispute the fact that work has stopped, describing it not as dead, but merely in a “coma.”
There might be a rescue for the sinking islands, though, assuming they are indeed sinking. A company from the Netherlands claims to have a solution. Dutch Docklands, a firm that makes floating islands, wants to help. They recently won a bid to build something called the Floating Proverb, which will be 89 floating islands that, when viewed from the air, will spell an Arab proverb.
Nakheel, though, isn’t giving in just yet. “This is a ten-year project which has slowed down,” said Graham Lovett, a spokesperson. “This is a project which will be completed.”
Another failed utopian dream? You tell us…