If it ain’t broke, fix it

One of the sad facts of living in Dubai is that if if an area’s settled and been built well, it’s probably not going to be long before it’s dug up, rearranged and probably ruined.

Yes, progress needs to march onwards. I’m baffled though by the decisions being made that ruin existing areas that are actually working really well.

We’re lucky enough to live in an area that’s been well designed aesthetically – it all matches, was reasonably well built by the same developer (at least in terms of the exteriors). The whole feel of the place is good – this contributes so much to the enjoyment of living here.

The developer’s also been very good in terms of making sure that the rules they have that make sure the area keeps its character are adhered to. They are strict about unsightly washing on balconies, satellite dishes, mess, etc, etc.

It’s been a pleasant, reasonably settled place for a while now, at least by Dubai standards.

Inevitably, the fiddling has begun.

The Boulevard is a lovely long curved road with a wide pavement, palm trees and street lights. The palms and streetlights complement the design of the ‘Old Town’ style buildings and the newer towers. The modern part – the Burj Khalifa – towers in the background. It works really well.

Not well enough for someone at the developer though. They seem to think that the area will be enhanced by installing hideous new streetlights. They don’t match the surrounding buildings. They are shiny and new in an area called the Old Town. They are silver amongst the beiges and blue/greens of the buildings. They are sharply angled against the smoother curves of the buildings. They create a weird box like effect across the boulevard and make the pavement area feel crowded.

Without the new lamp posts –


With new lamp posts –




These things must have cost a fortune and appear to serve no purpose other than the general uglification of a previoulsy pleasant area.

Who makes these decisions?

It’s such a shame. It’s also a reminder that regardless of whether you’ve invested in the area and are any kind of ‘stakeholder’, decisions that spoil where you live can be made at any time.

There are other odd decisions being made too. Private buildings are coming up in the areas around the development. There appears to have been no vetting of the designs, so the area is developing a crowded, oppressed feeling as one tower after another comes up, way too close to each other and each with a totally different design. On their own, they might look modern and exciting – crowded together the atmosphere they create is not a good one.

Here’s a new private tower being built metres away from a building that’s part of our development.


This isn’t really a matter of taste, either. Sure, you can’t please everyone when it comes to architectural styles. What I don’t understand is why anyone thinks such a crowded mishmash is a good idea. Forget about whether Chris thinks it looks nice – surely spending so much money on an area that then has no claim to any kind of leadership in architecture and design is a waste of money? Your rental price is going to be higher in an area that attracts people. If you have a complete mess of styles randomly distributed across a bewildering road system, you aren’t going to be able to charge as much as you would for a well thought out area that looks good and is easy to get around.

I used to feel awed and inspired by the construction work I’d see around me in Dubai. Now I typically feel indifferent or depressed when I see so many of the new developments. It’s sad to see such a great opportunity to create something architecturally wonderful squandered. The money is clearly there – it’s just being spent in a way that I find hard to understand.

Sad. I like living here and, yes, I know that if I don’t like it I can leave. I don’t want to leave – I just think it’s sad when reasons to stay are chipped away slowly, for silly reasons.

Some assorted pics of mismatching buildings going up.




2 Responses to “If it ain’t broke, fix it”

  1. Riz Din Says:

    Pretty ugly, but maybe they look better at night? Still no excuse though…bah with the people who do such things!

  2. Jessie Says:

    Ha – you forgot the worst part, which is that they started digging up the ground for those lamp posts what, three months ago? And then they got distracted (OOH SHINY THINGS!) and haven’t even put the bulbs in yet… classic.

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