30 September 2016

Risen from desert

Out of Canberra again. Firstly Dubai the city famed for extravagance and the tallest building. I’ve added this one to my viewed list and the Burj Khalifa was seriously beautiful. A work of delicate art as well as engineering at the extremes. This is a place of extremes, not least in prices (wow, one visit only likely: it was expensive). But lots of tall buildings; hugely active and quickly built (famously a fishing village only a few decades back); hints at Las Vegas but also the great architectural works. One area (Marina) must have 30 skyscrapers (say 40, 60 stories) and attendant facilities and has appeared out of the sand in 15 years (!) Can we imagine that in Australia? An absolute monarchy helps, and wise planning and sensible application of oil/gas monies for a while (compare Australia’s response to our greatest mining boom). Dubai’s oil/gas is mostly passed (~9% of current budget) but huge businesses and infrastructure has been built from it. Dubai is seeking to be the local Singapore, financial/services centre for local Asia, Middle East and North Africa. Let’s see if they can pull it off. Certainly the ski slopes and ice worlds exist with massive energy input, but there’s even awareness of climate change and some shared services to respond to it (eg, local-area cooling like NYC’s local-area heating). It’s a population of ~2.2 million but Emiriaties are just 10%, many ex-pats, some well paid, many not; no taxes is a drawcard. It’s both fascinating and inviting and intriguing and quizzical to me. It will be interesting to watch over time if the experiment survives and prospers or sinks into the underlying sands. Time will tell. And did I mention, it’s hot.

There were lots of inviting jazz sounds in shopping malls (huge, of course). I often turned thinking there must be live music, only to find just excellent piping. But I did find one live player, Alex, in a menswear store. I’m told of Pizza Express and some other occasional jazz venues but nothing easily accessible and too jet lagged (and skint) to explore.

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