Dubai has evolved at a breakneck speed, without a definitive masterplan
‘Dubai was just expanding, without thinking that far ahead. They did have their Vision 2010, but it was more goals defined than sitting down with a team of consultants and urban planners and figuring out what needs to be done’, according to Gensler associate Jon Corish, who masterplanned Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).
The original city of Dubai was located around Dubai Creek, with the districts of Bur Dubai on the west side and Deira to the east. Major development in these areas occurred from the 1960s through to the 1990s. New Dubai, located west of the original city, comprises developments packaged in disjointed parcels of land, which were designated as business free zones or residential areas and distributed by the Sheikh among developers.
Corish describes the way Dubai has consequently evolved as ‘similar to other poly-nuclear cities such as Los Angeles, where you have to rely on the car to get around. It’s multi-faceted and not the traditional CBD [Central Business District] model.’ Districts and free zones are often named for their use, such as Healthcare City and Dubai Silicon Oasis.
Water is key to Dubai’s future as a major tourist destination, and flagship developments often try to create as much additional coastline or waterfront property as possible. Pictured in this artists’ impression are the projects currently being undertaken by developer Nakheel, such as the £3 billion Palm Trilogy, which includes Palm Jumeirah and Palm Jebel Ali, both on site, Palm Deira, which is now on hold, and £1.3 billion island complex The World, also on site.
The palm shape was selected because each frond can be developed with private beaches on either side. Also visible on this rendering is the 75km Arabian Canal, a £7 billion waterway by developer Limitless that is being cut out of Dubai’s desert landscape. The canal will bring seawater inland as part of a 125km2, £36 billion property development along its circuit. More than one billion cubic metres of excavated land will be used to create manmade hills up to 250m high around the canal. Although the canal is already under construction, with a completion date of 2012, there is currently no plan for how it will traverse Sheikh Zayed Road, the city’s main thoroughfare.