I recently spend some time in Dubai on business, looking to put green walls up there on a big scale. It’s a crazy place, I’d guess rivalled by few cities in the world for sheer extravagance (Los Vegas perhaps), and by none in the world for the speed of its emergence – 20 years ago there was very little to see.
Now it boasts the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, fountains that erupt to music 100 metres into the air, the worlds largest shopping mall and a jaw-dropping metro and international airport. The street cross-roads literally shine from the polished granite setts (not the best material for car tyres). It was 50degC out there, and humid.
the UAE is a country whose main resource is oil and gas (and not massive amounts by neighbours’ standards), but Dubai thrives on trade. Needless to say, with limited indigenous resources, the city survives and thrives by importing everything it needs. Everything is expensive except petrol, which costs about 20% of UK pump prices. But the raw display of opulence and power that is modern Dubai is, to my mind, vulnerable.
It is probably true that the Middle-East will be the last place to run out of oil, because they have most of the global reserves. The US will be either brought to its knees or launch a global invasion to secure the last supplies; but my bet is that at some point the OPEC countries will stop exporting to service their own needs. Eventually, they too will run out and what will become such cities then? To my eyes it is clear, the desert sands will reclaim Dubai within the next 50 – 100 years time.
Meanwhile, we’ll do what we can to make this little patch of desert and concrete that bit greener…