Day 37 and 38- Abu Dhabi and Dubai
MLR 02 - 14 - 2010

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are interesting cities. These two cities felt so much like the US that I may have started to feel a little home sick. The buildings are so imaginative and creative with shapes that I have never seen before on a structure that size. It seems that if someone can dream it, it can be built in Dubai. Such fast development of crazy, overdone buildings each trying to outdo the first to get the most money from tenants and still end up being bankrupt. They are able to do some amazing architecture all the same, and have a lot of great attractions. One we particularly liked was the musical fountain that was outrageous with its timing to the music and the size of it as well. I had no idea that there were so many and such large malls in the UAE. But after Dan, our guide and alumni for the few days we were there informed me that the summers are so hot that people cannot stand to be outside. So similarly to Americans who hibernate during the winter, Emeratians take shelter in gigantic malls with ski slopes, hockey rinks, grocery stores the size of Walmart, and of course any store you could think of in order to escape the heat. Along with large buildings, there are large roads, very little landscape architecture and even less sidewalks. This part of the tour was based from the coach since walking was pretty much out of the question. There are minimal sidewalks in between the enormous roads with millions of cars that don't stop for pedestrians. We would drive from place to place, get off and look around for a period of time, then get back on the bus to go to the next place. We still get to see worthwhile places up close and also get a better idea of the city itself since it is so large, by looking through the coach window. Abu Dhabi is a little it better on the landscape front. However, the actual design is quite lacking and is mainly there to fill in the blank spaces between high rise and high way. We visited Masdar City, a sustainable city in the making. Our guide, Dan is part of a project that is currently in construction outside the city of Abu Dahbi. It is planned to be a completely sustainable city that grows most of its own food, doesn't allow cars, has 40,000 residents and 50,000 commuters. Only in the UAE would this ever be happing now... in the middle of the desert. I can only wonder how sustainable a city can be when it is built in the middle of no where and has to de-salinate its water in order to survive. Don't worry, they are de-salitating their water in a sustainable way...? Only a small portion of this city is being built at the moment and I am curious to see how this project will create an environmental attitude to a person who already lives in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, two cities that are a freak of nature in themselves. Obviously these two cities are not sustainable except solar collection and use with Photo Voltaics because they do certainly have a lot of sun. So how could a person who lives here be too concerned with the environment when they drive to work (extra long route because of construction) drink water that requires a large amount of energy to be drinkable, and oh yeah, live in the middle of a desert! But alas, the people underneath the Masdar City idea are sure that this will spread education and desire to be more sustainable throughout the area. They definately have the physics and structure of architecture down pat, which is proved by the half moon building on the sky line or the Burge Kalifa, the tallest building in the world. As we have been informed, they used simple principles used in past designs, just put to the next level. Don't get me wrong, I still really enjoyed Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They are beautiful cities, but I would compare them to the US on meth. They have some of the most amazing things to offer people who live or visit there and I'm sure they are only getting started... as long as the economy holds.

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