Glimpses of heaven and hell

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  • Published 20090901
  • ISBN: 9781921520761
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

THE EIGHTH WONDER of the World had already been proclaimed well before the grand opening in Dubai of Atlantis, The Palm, in November 2008. The thirteen acres of artificial palm-shaped archipelago jutting out into the shallow waters of the Arabian Gulf featured a forty-two-acre water park of sixty-five thousand fish and the soon-to-be controversial Dolphin Education Centre, the whole thing anchored by the vast pink luxury hotel, its 1,539 rooms full for the occasion with the world’s celebrities and tycoons. This was to be an Event like nothing on earth, and the $20 million fireworks display would be clearly seen from outer space.

But the timing and scale of the opening of Atlantis, The Palm could not have been worse. International derision was guaranteed. ‘Dubai’s Last Hurrah,’ trumpeted the cover of NewsweekThe Guardian cited Ozymandias: ‘The dunes will reclaim the soaring folly of Dubai.’ And The Independent kept putting the boot in: ‘The Shangri-la of the Middle East bites the dust…a city built on credit and ecocide, suppression and slavery.’

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