I’ve been curious about Dubai for the past month. I’ve watched some documentaries that describe the country. It’s remarkable and dazzling. The engineering involved in making the canals of Dubai or the Palm Islands would befuddle the pyramid builders. That is the scale that they are building on in Dubai. Palm Island extends 2.5 miles into the ocean and they have moved enough material to build 20 pyramids. The finest land reclamation experts from Holland join engineers from around the world in racing to complete what will surely be world class wonders in the Arabian Gulf. When all of the ongoing projects are completed, the UAE will have expanded their coastline from 46 to 900 miles.
I’m struck by the hollowness of the president’s assertion that losing the DPW ports deal will harm relations with the UAE. Even if the deal doesn’t wind up happening, Dubai has more than 8 billion dollars pumping through it each week. This particular deal is just one of a continuous stream of projects being undertaken in Dubai.
Palm Island is a great metaphor for me. It’s an enormous island that was built in just 5 years. That’s staggering, considering the amount of work involved. It’s a temporary wonder, though. The island is built on sand dredged from the Gulf bottom. This makes the island very vulnerable to earthquakes and tidal forces, since sand settles very quickly when it’s shaken. The ocean currents distort the shape of the island, making it necessary to perform constant dredging and land reclamation. The whole structure will sink back into the sea a century after maintenance stops. It’s the Nuevo riche World Wonder and the greatest testament to the power of oil. It surpasses conspicuous consumption and my ability to define. I keep feeling that people looking back 500 years from now will think we are hopeless barbarians to allow our resources to be squandered like this. I don’t have a solution. I live in a space 10 times bigger than just about everyone else on the planet. I can only shake my head that I live in a space 10000 times smaller than that guy on the TV.
Palm Island Overview