Do you remember 2008? When everything seemed possible and the roads of Dubai appeared to be paved with gold or was it platinum? When every week seemed to have an announcement about the world’s biggest theme park or world’s biggest space hopper was going to be built out of the desert.
Well we’re about to enter 2013 with the emirate daring to dream again. Three major announcements have been made in the past few months, including November’s announcement that Dubai wants to build a huge tourism and retail development that will include the world’s largest shopping mall, were underway on the outskirts of the emirate’s current downtown area. This was followed by news that Jebel Ali is to become the home for a $2.7 billion theme park resort with no less than five separate theme parks.
The month before we heard that $408 million was going to be spent to extend the Business Bay Canal Project with the aim of creating a new tourist hotspot in the emirate complete with floating hotels and restaurants lining the canal – thus creating a new attraction for visitors and residents. Throw in the Falcon City of Wonders with the world’s biggest Taj Mahal and you would be forgiven for thinking the last few years have all been a blur.
So what on earth is going on? Well undeniably Dubai already has an abundance of shopping malls but it really lacks any logical reason for a non-shopaholic to spend more than a few days. Building theme parks – assuming they are on a grander scale than the existing, charming but kooky Global Village – is one way to keep families coming back. If the forecasts of global air traffic are to be believed then both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are going to be hosting many more millions of travellers in the next few decades. As it was back in 2007 and 2008 developing as a tourist location makes a lot of sense at least on paper.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, the past few years have shown us enough mirages to encourage us not to run headlong into the sand like a bunch of entertainment ravaged so and so’s. It was not long ago that there were gloomy predictions about Dubai falling behind Doha, Jeddah, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi and I for one won’t be getting exciting until the tender board starts to light up. But let’s allow ourselves some optimism for the moment. After the past few years, we’ve earned it.
Wishing you all a happy New Year.