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Environment / Climate change

Dubai's "Aladdin City" doesn't look like anything we remember from Aladdin

Every time you think that we’ve reached peak Dubai, everyone’s favourite mash up between Disneyland, Bladerunner and the mid 12th century manages to exceed expectations yet again.

This time, the thing that’s got us all so excited is the confirmation that the new Aladdin City development is going ahead. It is, we are told, inspired by tales of Aladdin, Sinbad, and other famous stories from the “One Thousand and One Nights”.

You can tell, because it’ll look like this:

Those magic lamp thingies are actually towers, 34, 26 and 25 storeys respectively, and they’ll be connected by moving walkways (or “magic carpets”, if you will). It’s being funded by the city government, which hasn’t deigned to reveal how much it’s paying for this thing. In all, it’ll cover 4,000 acres in the Dubai Creek district.

The municipality’s director general Hussain Naser Lootah told the local press that the project was “located outside the zone waiting to be registered with the World Heritage by Unesco”. That’s probably for the best, because we can’t remember any previous instances of Unesco listings for things that look like something you’d normally expect to need the Millennium Falcon to get to.

The combination of spectacle and a cartoon version of local culture is, as with so much of what Dubai does, all about tourism, an industry which is expected to provide nearly 40 per cent of the emirate’s economy by 2020. It’s basically a bet that international visitors are less likely to be interested in real Arabic culture than they are in the version of it that they’ve cobbled together thanks to Hollywood.

Whether this assumption is correct – and whether anyone, anywhere, will look at this thing and think, “ooooh, Sinbad!” – remains to be seen. But it’s due to break ground next year, so we won’t know for some time.

Images: Dubai Municipality.
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