25 February, 2010

Leak at Dubai Mall Aquarium Forces Evacuation

That's the headline in the Wall Street Journal. I've also seen the story on Sky News.

There's a statement from Emaar:

"A leakage was noticed at one of the panel joints of the Dubai Aquarium at The Dubai Mall and was immediately fixed by the aquarium's maintenance team," the emailed statement said. "The leakage did not impact the aquarium environment or the safety of the aquatic animals."

An area is cordoned off and shops closed.

While there may not be a safety problem it's another blow to Brand Dubai. A visitor is reported by the WSJ as saying : "It seems that as they're building things here, they're crumbling at the same time."

The WSJ story is here.

06 February, 2010

Sentence of the day

"The state was too intrusive in Brasília and almost non-existent in Dubai." - economist Paul Romer.

That's from his article in Prospect Magazine in which he is explaining his big idea of charter cities.

Context of the sentence:
Other urban economists fear new cities will repeat the unimpressive history of government-planned ones like Brasília, or Dubai’s recent bust. But these are both extreme examples. The state was too intrusive in Brasília and almost non-existent in Dubai. Hong Kong is the middle ground, a state ruled by laws not men, but one that leaves competition and individual initiative to decide the details.
Translation: Government was very much involved in Dubai's development but rather than over planning, there was under planning. And great uncertainty about law, especially property law.

Nonetheless, too much is made of Dubai's faults. After all, the expatriates came to Dubai by choice. And the vast bulk of these are coming from countries where economic prospects are dim because government incompetence and corruption.

Crossposted to Emirates Economist.

The Great Rydges Conspiracy

Anyone planning to revisit Doha Rydges Plaza hotel on their next trip to Qatar needn't bother. It bit the dust, literally, yesterday. This was, officially, a planned demolition. Part of the Dohaland 'Heart of Doha' project. The building has stood empty for a year and, in recent weeks, much of the surface cladding was removed, to facilitate the controlled explosion that was to bring it to its knees.
But wait a minute. Isn't a planned explosion supposed to bring a tower building (even a single one) vertically down, like a house of cards, to settle on its own foundations? Yet Rydges has clearly fallen over, more bowed than collapsed. The official story is that the demolition team miscalculated the strength of that cylindrical column. But that hardly seems likely. The building appears to have been knocked over. One could almost believe an aircraft flew into it...
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05 February, 2010

Akbar Zeb sent to UAE, KSA to serve as ambassador

It's all here. And it isn't a link to The Onion. He's a big deal diplomat. More, in Arabic, here.

For this video suggestion thanks go to Slate.fr
Un diplomate de haut niveau pakistanais s'est vu refuser le poste d'ambassadeur en Arabie saoudite à cause de son nom, Akbar Zeb, qui signifie «la plus grosse bite» en arabe. Les responsables saoudiens, apparemment accablés par le nom, on mis leur veto.