Thursday, February 21, 2013

Biggest, Brightest, Tallest, Best in the World

Once again Dubai plans to put the country on the map by adding to the repertoire of biggest, brightest, tallest, and best in the world by announcing several mega-projects this past week adding to its laundry list of landmarks.   Sheikh Mohammad, Ruler of Dubai,  has approved plans for a 10 billion dirham ($2.7bn) development linking five theme parks to include the movie-based Dubai Adventure Studios and a theme park based around Bollywood movies (constructed by Meraas Development, owned by Sheikh Mohammad) ; the construction of the new Mohammad bin Rashid City, which will include a Universal Studios theme park and the world's largest shopping mall;  the Dubai Adventure Studios Fun Park; and the Dubai Trade Center Jebel Ali, which is expected to attract 25 million visitors; and The Bluewaters Island Project which will have the world's largest Ferris Wheel at 210 meters.  Most of these projects are expected to reach first phase completion in three years.

Dubai Adventure Studios expects to complete the main park by 2014 with a marine and aquatic themed park to follow as well as a night safari themed park.  Also a park catering to toddlers, preschool, and primary school children is planned.

Mohammad bin Rashid City, a sprawling mega-city with gardens covering 800 million square feet and costing $60 billion, will include 100 hotels, golf courses, a hub for the arts, and centers to develop small businesses.  The gardens are 30% larger than Hyde Park in London.  The city will also include the Mall of the World, which expects over 80 million visitors per year.  The mall is partly developed by Universal Studios.

Some of these plans are part of the revived mega-project Dubailand that was put on hold in 2008 after the financial crisis.  Many plans of the original project have been changed.  It is still not certain if the Universal Studios theme park will be construct with the mall as originally planned in 2008.

One of the most astounding projects announced was that of the new Dubai Eye, the world's tallest ferris wheel standing at 689 feet.  The ferris wheel is the center of the BlueWaters Project, a resort island project off the Jumeirah Beach coastline most famously known for the Burj Al Arab (the sailboat hotel).    Dubai Eye riders are expected to get a majestic view of the Dubai coastline.  The cost of this project is expected at $1.5 billion.  You can read more about Dubai Eye at the following links:

I haven't even touched on some of the other projects like the Dubai Panorama, a 17 meter high pedestrian bridge over Dubai Creek linking one part of the city to another.  The continued expansion of the Dubai Metro at a whopping $675 million.

The Etihad Rail is expected to launch their inaugural run this year.  According to Etihad Rail's website,  1,200 km network will extend across the United Arab Emirates, from the border of Saudi Arabia to the border of Oman. The network will run from Ghweifat to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the Northern Emirates with major connecting points in between, including Al Ain and Madinat Zayed. Etihad Rail will have an extensive national network with freight terminals, distribution centres and depots located close to major transport hubs, warehouses, and storage facilities across the UAE, including MussafahKhalifa PortJebal Ali Free ZonePort of Fujairah of and Saqr Port.  The Etihad Rail network will also connect with the GCC network and this - once fully established - will cover the five GCC countries of The Kingdom of Bahrain, The State of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and UAE. 

Dubai is soon to host the world's largest airport Al Mouktam International Airport, one of the many construction projects falling under Dubai World Central.   Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia giving details about the project:

Designed for the future, Al Maktoum International Airport proposes to handle all next-generation aircraft, including the Airbus A380 super-jumbo.[15] Up to four aircraft will be able to land simultaneously, 24 hours a day, minimizing in-air queuing.
The airport will include:
  • Five parallel runways, 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) in length, each separated by a distance of 800 metres (2,600 ft). Six runways were originally planned, but the number was reduced to five in April 2009
  • Three passenger terminals, including two luxury facilities; one dedicated to airlines of The Emirates Group, the second to other carriers, and the third dedicated to low-cost carriers.
  • Multiple concourses
  • 16 cargo terminals with a 12-million tonne capacity
  • Executive and royal jet centres
  • Hotels and shopping malls
  • Support and maintenance facilities: the region's only hub for A, B, and C Checks on all aircraft up to A380 specifications
  • Over 100,000 parking spaces (probably underground) for airport staff and passengers
  • Al Maktoum International Airport and the existing Dubai International Airport will be linked by a proposed high-speed express rail system
  • Al Maktoum International Airport will also be served by the Dubai Metro and a dedicated Dubai World Central light railway                                                                                                                Here is a short not-so-great video of the airport model displayed at Cityscape 2008:


All of these mega-projects come on the heels of the last five years of world economic crisis.  While the world has been reeling from the economic downturn, and Dubai was not exactly immune but weathered the storm, the UAE has been carefully planning for their future as a worldwide leader in the hospitality and tourism industry.

Nearby Abu Dhabi, where I reside, has its own list of landmarks.  Ferrari World, the fastest rollercoaster in the world; Yas Waterworld, the new largest waterpark in the world; the Formula One Raceway featuring the only hotel with a racetrack running through it; Emirates Palace, the world's only seven star hotel;  and The Grand Mosque, the third largest mosque in the world.

The rulers of the UAE fully intend to put their country on the map.  Actually, I think they have already succeeded!

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