February 27 2008 / by Jeff Hilford
Category: Technology Year: General Rating: 11
The not so fertile delta of the Arabian Desert is becoming home to cities of the future. With an empty canvas and untold billions of dollars to work with, technology is driving radical transformation in cultures that are highly resistant to change.
The epicenter of this movement is the United Arab Emirates, where Dubai and Abu Dhabi have become leaders in next generation city building. Dubai, with the construction of their man-made Palm Islands and increasingly futuristic cityscape, is intent on competing with “Singapore and Hong Kong as a business hub, and surpassing Las Vegas as a leisure capital,” while Masdar City, to be constructed in Abu Dhabi, is projected to house 50,000 people, run entirely on renewable energy and have zero carbon footprint. This amazing and rapid metamorphosis has not gone unnoticed by UAE’s neighbor to the West, Saudi Arabia. Facing a demographic tidal wave over the next decade or so (close to 40% of Saudis are under the age of 15) they are undertaking a ”$500 billion investment program to build new cities, create millions of jobs and diversify the economy away from petroleum exports over the next two decades.”
All of this makes me wonder if this is the beginning of a wave of transformation that will sweep through the region as other Middle Eastern countries will have a difficult time ignoring these changes. The experience these countries gain in converting harsh environments into more friendly ones should translate into opportunities for other parts of the world facing similar challenges, particularly the ability to harvest the almost constant sunshine many of these inhospitable areas receive…Africa anyone?