Dubai 5: The World
The thing one is supposed to not notice is the thing that is by far the most beautiful. The rock barrier around The World is just mind-blowing. A meandering line in the water, made of rocks, rising with a steep angle from the bottom of the Gulf. With a enormously precise geometry it cuts through the water.
This is one of the moments where pure engineering becomes a piece of art. I love it. And I feel it is a shame all program is put on the flat sandbanks, instead of right next to this line of rocks. Or even a pavilion balancing with one leg on top of the barrier. Your Highness, if you’re interested in the idea, please give me a call!
For me it was quite a surprise to find out that The World as it has now been created is not how it is eventually going to look like. The round islands are meant as a big pile of sand, that the owner can adjust into any form he likes. Since a round form has the least beach-length, the developer Nakheel expects very different shapes. It is called ‘terra-forming’, and can be simply compared to the God-mode in SimCity; you can bulldozer the island into any form you like.
There are obviously some limits, but still. In some parts of The World owners are even allowed to glue a couple of islands together into a continuous resort. An example of how that would look like is the resort that Nakheel itself has planned to create in the northern part of the agglomeration – in the North of ‘Canada’. These are Micro-Nations on a whole new level, naming the location of the islands has something of playing a game.
One island has already been developed with an enormous residence to give possible buyers an idea of the possibilities. The house has been already sold, and sales of The World in total are said to be at about 45 percent.
In the ‘Al Manakh’ book the developer says an advantage developing an island-agglomeration is that you don’t have to invest in infrastructure. Visitors come by helicopter or boat. Mainly by boats, and boats than go quite fast it appears. A map of traffic times is based on a travel speed of 30 knots, which is about 55 kilometers an hour. That is racing.
A funny thing is that from the shore of the mainland – on ground level - one cannot see The World, because it is too far. I wonder if that will change when (palm)trees are planted. Looking from The World however the Dubai skyline is very visible. An amazing backdrop, almost like a theatre set.
The reality this panorama creates is a unique one. While the islands try and try to realize the best ‘escape’ ever, as the developer says, the reality one escapes from is ever visible – day and night. I don’t think we should read this as something ironic. The World is not about being really alone on an island, but like most tourism merely a matter of playing. Really being alone on an island is probably quite scary, not that safe, and not that comfortable. So we play.
An English dessert: Richard ‘Virgin’ Branson. How do I know this image so well? Did it really hit the press worldwide?
Dubai 1: The story so far
Dubai 2: Palm Jumeirah
Dubai 3: Palm Jebel-Ali
Dubai 4: Palm Deira
Dubai 5: The World
Dubai 6: Burj Al Arab
Dubai 7: Burj Dubai
Dubai 8: Dubai Towers
Dubai 9: Dubai Renaissance
Dubai 10: The Cloud