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Environment / Climate change

Dubai is building its own rainforest, because that's not a terrible idea

What do you buy Dubai, the water-starved desert city that has everything? How about its own tropical rainforest?

It’ll be the Middle East’s first, apparently (not sure why). Anyway, from government-owned newspaper The National:

The Dubai Rainforest, described as an educational and cultural dome, will be housed within Damac Properties’ Akoya Oxygen master community and is slated to be completed ahead of Expo 2020.

It is designed to recreate the natural environment of rainforests, which cover 6 per cent of the world’s surface, said the developer.

It won’t recreate it exactly, you understand. Rainforests are famous for a number of characteristics. One is their large number of trees. Another is their tendency to receive quite a large quantity of rain, in some cases as much as 450cm of it every year.

What they’re not famous for is popping up in tree-less deserts that get less than 10cm of rain a year, and they’re almost never found in luxury housing developments. But Dubai does like to be different, so.

Image: Damac Properties.

The piece continues:

Visitors will be taken on a journey through the jungle, starting on ground level, before climbing up into the canopy as they learn about the habitat’s flora and fauna.

Those with a thrill for heights will be able to fly through the treetops on a zip wire or just relax in the Rainforest spa, the latter of which will offer hydrothermal treatments among rock pools and steam baths.

For those who like their day trips to massively resource-hungry pretend biomes to come with a side order of irony, the new development will be right next to the Trump World Golf Club. Which is another project sucking up enormous amounts of the region’s scarce water supply, and which is ultimately owned by this guy:

Dubai’s media is normally pretty supportive of the various Ozymandian construction projects going on in the Emirate. So it’s a measure of the sheer ludicrousness of this rainforest thing that The National actually quoted a local academic who obviously thinks the whole thing is insane:

Dr Ali El-Keblawy, associate professor at the University of Sharjah and director of the Sharjah Seed Bank and Herbarium, said the project’s expected high water footprint is likely unsustainable in a desert climate.

“To create an artificial forest in such harsh conditions, they are challenging nature,” he said.

Well, that’s one point of view. But another is that “nature” was invented by Communists in the 1980s as a way of discrediting capitalism, so it could go either way.

Anyway, tl:dr: we’re living in the end times.
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