Dubai recently unveiled its 2040 Urban Master Plan. What should we expect? Towers so tall you’ll need a jet-propelled lift to get to the top? Man-made islands in the shape of the Twitter logo (sponsored, of course)? Nine-star hotels and giant Instagram screens where influencers’ trout-pouts can be seen from space?
None of these things, in fact. The plan is big on words like “sustainability”, “diversity” and “inclusivity” and low on phrases like “petro dollars”, “bling” and “migrant labour”. The images that accompany the presentation make Dubai look like a cross between Singapore and the Eden Project. You’ll struggle to get a glimpse of desert in the Gulf’s commercial capital in a couple of decades, it seems. (Let’s not be spoilsports and ask where the water for all that greenery is coming from.)
The Master Plan led me to have a look around the world to how our other great cities are going to turn out if the dreams of architects, planners and CGI wizards become reality. The answer is predominantly… well, a cross between Singapore and the Eden Project. The world’s urban areas are turning into vast biodomes – without the domes.
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