Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dubai - turn on the lights

The New York Times has a story this week entitled "Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down", and reports "housing vacancies and lowers real estate prices, in a downward spiral that has left parts of Dubai — once hailed as the economic superpower of the Middle East — looking like a ghost town". The Guardian (Feb 13) also covers Dubai's troubles, and includes a good video.

The thing which the stories fail to mention is that parts of Dubai already looked like a ghost town. I've visited Dubai a few times over the past few years. There was a tremendous amount of building happening there, with many tall apartment buildings going up. But few people seemed to be living in the buildings, or moving in. Do you know how you could tell? At night all the buildings were dark. I stayed in a hotel amongst many tall new apartment buildings, and at night you could not tell that the tall apartment buildings were there at all.

Take a look at this photo of the Burj Dubai (tallest building in the world) at night. It is lit up, since it is under construction. But where are the buildings around it? Nowhere to be seen because they have no lights on at night. If buildings are actually being used, either as office buildings or as apartments, then some lights will be on at night.

Compare the photo to this picture I took of San Francisco at night. Those are all office buildings in the photo, but at night they still have many lights on.

The old joke is that "will the last person to leave turn off the lights", but in the case of Dubai the lights were not on in the first place.

To finish, here is a great video of a city at night. If you don't like the music, turn it to mute. But what beautiful images:

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