Port cities in the Gulf States are currently in the process of creating and celebrating the inauthentic after a period of rapid growth and prosperity that has transformed their cultural landscapes beyond recognition. In such context the relative absence of history, or heritage, has not necessarily been an impediment to its promotion. We focus upon Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a city which has made a dramatic transition from a small creek settlement of earth, clay or thatched houses, to an extravagant globally-oriented metropolis, within a period of three decades. Today’s Dubai has been totally remodelled, boasting innovative and spectacular architectural designs which include pastiche reconstructions of Alpine ski-slopes, Egyptian palaces and Italian Renaissance architecture. The wholesale creation of maritime ambiance as a backdrop to opulent marina living has invariably exceeded reality as several constructions are still ‘works in progress’ and prospective buyers of virtual real estate have been encouraged to ‘grow with the dream’. However, there must be more to a city than the ‘biggest’, ‘newest’, ‘tallest’ …and in the midst of wholesale reinvention Dubai has sought to proclaim the richness of its maritime heritage in an attempt to reaffirm elements of urban continuity, credibility and sustainability. Such reflection may be timely as the city reassesses its future in the light of the recent global financial crisis.
|Keywords:||Dubai, Actuality, Authenticity, Heritage, Sustainability|
Senior Lecturer, School of Earth & Geographical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia
Senior Researcher, Faculty of Architecture, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden
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