Dubai, UAE's pathbreaking city of the future, is on display for Israelis

Published date10 December 2020
Date10 December 2020
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
It's at the same time hard to adjust to the grandeur here, as it is easy to feel at home. That contrast comes in waves. At first the city is too big, with the Dubai Mall so large that one feels lost even in the most modest toy store. One clothing store is so large that there is a supermarket inside it. One is almost surprised not to find another outlet of the store inside the supermarket that is inside the store.

On the other hand, Dubai is so full of international brands, from the line of Lamborghini and fancy car dealerships on Sheikh Zayed Road to the new plastic cups at Starbucks that come without straws. Without straws doesn't seem like such a revolution, but in a world rapidly moving from plastic to those off-putting cardboard straws, it all makes sense.

And Dubai makes sense. It's a postmodern smart city. It's the city of the future, but it's a future most of the world will not obtain. While many cities in the West are declining, beset by lack of social cohesion, crime, even riots and ethnic and religious tensions and political extremism; and cities in the global south have to manage massive poverty, Dubai has achieved something unique.

Why is it unique? It's the little things. There are no masses of armed police with automatic rifles festooning the airport and attractions, like one has in the US, Europe and some countries. There do not seem to be police everywhere, but at the same time taxi drivers say that if they drop you off anywhere except safe or marked stops, they could get a fine.

This sense of safety and order, of regulation but not burdensome bureaucracy, is not only on display, but it is what businesspeople say attracts them here.

PNC MENON, an Indian-born Omani businessman who pioneered his Sobha development company to build unique residential areas not only in India but also in Dubai, emphasized how stability and safety are key to the success here.

I sat down with Menon as part of a trip to Sobha's Hartland development near the center of Dubai. Spread out along 8 million square feet (743,000 sq.m.) of flatland near the Meydan horse racing track, the massive development will have up to 25,000 people moving in over the next years. It has its own schools and a mixture of housing, ranging from fancy villas that cost millions of dollars to normal apartments that are priced in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It's a strategic area, says Sobha's staff, and the apartments are built with the highest standards through what they call backward...

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