Big things

June 3, 2008

I don’t travel in general and my fear of flying has kept me grounded for more years than I care to admit but if I got the chance to go anywhere in the world it would be Dubai. That country (part of the UAE) is an amazing spectacle of what man can do with enough money and enough effort. While the riches of the UAE originated from oil, Dubai never had much. So they turned to other ventures:

There once was a sheikh who dreamed big. His realm, on the shores of the Persian Gulf, was a sleepy, sun-scorched village occupied by pearl divers, fishermen, and traders who docked their ramshackle dhows and fishing boats along a narrow creek that snaked through town. But where others saw only a brackish creek, this sheikh, Rashid bin Saeed al Maktoum, saw a highway to the world.

One day in 1959, he borrowed many millions of dollars from his oil-rich neighbor, Kuwait, to dredge the creek until it was wide and deep enough for ships. He built wharves and warehouses and planned for roads and schools and homes. Some thought he was mad, others just mistaken, but Sheikh Rashid believed in the power of new beginnings. Sometimes at dawn, with his young son, Mohammed, by his side, he’d walk the empty waterfront and paint his dream in the air with words and gestures. And it was, in the end, as he said. He built it, and they came.

And build they did. Here is Dubai (City)in 1990:

And here it is now:

And that’s just the beginning. Run out of room or need more coastline? No problem, you just make more (and more).

Now this is where it really gets large:

Billy Mays and Vegas have some serious competition.

(Quaker inspired)


16 Responses to “Big things”

  1. superdave524 Says:

    Again I ask, isn’t Dubai where Michael Jackson is currently hiding?

  2. John in IL Says:

    If he’s hiding, I’m happy.

  3. superdave524 Says:

    Actually, John, since you’re old enough to drive, you’re probably safe.

  4. PatrickP Says:

    As a city planner I am fascinated by Dubai and I would love to visit there someday.

  5. John in IL Says:

    Dubai is the ultimate in city planning

  6. KevinQC Says:

    I don’t visit fundamentalist Islamic nations like the UAE or France.

  7. John in IL Says:

    How can you call Dubai fundamentalist? Iran, yes, but Dubai? It’s party central of the Middle East.

  8. KevinQC Says:


  9. KevinQC Says:

    Read the local laws and local customs section… it may not be Tehran or Riyadh, but it ain’t Vegas either. Hell, it’s not even Disneyland. I’ll pass.

  10. PatrickP Says:

    Cripes, Kevin. Would it be that difficult for you to spend a few days sober and celibate?

  11. John in IL Says:

    That may be true for the UAE in total (I’m not going to Abu Dhabi anytime soon) but Dubai is considered a very safe city. And they sell alcohol (with some restrictions), Kevin.

  12. KevinQC Says:

    Being able to drink (or shag) isn’t the point. The point is – for all the lights and skyscrapers it’s still the 7th century there in too many ways.

  13. KevinQC Says:

    Dammit! I hate it when I forget my closing line…

    If I want to go the desert and see tall buildings and neon… I’ll fly to Vegas.

  14. John in IL Says:

    In what ways?

  15. John in IL Says:

    And I’m talking about Dubai, in particular. Not the UAE in general.

  16. KevinQC Says:

    The basis of all legal systems in the the UAE (including Dubai, no?) is Sharia or Quranic Law. In the constitutions, Islam is identified as the state religion as well as the principal source of law. ‘Nuff said…

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