The Ecotopia 2121 project predicts the futures of 100 cities across the globe. This week, we highlight the future of Dubai.
Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed, owns Greenland. Not the big icy Greenland northeast of Canada; a smaller artificial Greenland-shaped island he had built off the coast of Dubai. This artificial Greenland is itself part of an artificial archipelago called The World. From an airplane, the archipelago looks like the nations of the globe laid out on the surface of the Persian Gulf. However, from the beaches of Dubai they are just a hazy blur on the horizon.
The World was dreamt up to be for the very rich only. It’s planned to be adorned with six-star hotels and magnificent villas accessible only by those who own a hovercraft or a helicopter. According to many reports, however, most of the islands of The World are eroding back into the sea and the channels between them are silting up and becoming unnavigable.
The high-profile of The World plus its cost (some $14 billion dollars) marks this project out as a magnificent failure for both Dubai and for the Sheikh. By the middle of the 21st Century, the last island of Sheik Muhhamad’s dream will likely have fallen beneath the waves but The World’s sunken blobby traces will still be visible to any passenger looking out the window of a plane as they come into land at Dubai International Airport.
One century on from now, though, in celebration of the climatically-absurd Dubai Winter Olympics, a new Sheik of Dubai sets about combating the drowned-out legacy of The World’s failure. On the same site, he builds five monolithic islands. These are built to outlast erosion, built to survive sea-level rise, built to host the Olympian athletes in a monumental fashion. This is Dubai 2121: Global Warming doesn’t need adapting to. It needs to be beaten.