Moving through the streets of Dubai, it’s impossible to ignore the skyscrapers that reach the sky. Most are brand new. Many have some claim to fame including the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa (830m tall) to the world’s largest shopping mall, Dubai Mall (1,124,000m2),
The majority of Dubai’s most (in)famous structures are the handiwork of two large real estate developers: Emaar and Nakheel. During our stay in the UAE, we visited the two companies (on separate days, of course) to learn how they see their work fitting into Dubai’s grand future.
Emaar has made a name for itself through building some of Dubai’s architectural feats including the Burj Khalifa (which receives 3 million visitors annually). The company is not shy about promoting its work; the firm’s name is prominently displayed on most of its buildings, which means it can be seen all over the city.
The company, which is partly owned by the government, has set it sights on dreaming bigger by planning to build the world’s next largest tower. The hope is that this new development, in combination with the many other projects in progress, will make Dubai stand tall among other nations.
Nakheel shares a similar dream though its approach is slightly different than Emaar’s.
Nakheel is the mind and the muscle behind the celebrated Palm Jumeirah, a development that doubled the coastline of Dubai. The inspiration for the man-made island came from the fact that the majority of Dubai’s coastline had already been developed, however, there was growing demand for coastal views. Therefore, the company had to get creative about how to increase the amount of prime real estate the small nation could offer. In doing so, Nakheel came up with the idea to create man-made islands that could host a mix of commercial and private developments. Oh, and this island is in the shape of a palm tree (a connection to the company’s name).
The building of the Palm Jumeirah is a technical masterpiece. Requiring 7 million tons of rock formed into a barrier as well as 120 million m3 of sea sand that was relocated to build the island. Unsurprisingly, all of this development does have an environmental impact on the region. Nakheel is very aware of this and says it has done its best to minimize any damage and in some cases, improve the ecosystem for native plants. Moreover, it requires any investors to adhere by strict environmental guidelines.
Although Nakheel and Emaar don’t view each other as competition; the friendly rivalry between the two has pushed each other to dream bigger and do what some have said is impossible. Though the question remains; is bigger really better for Dubai?