National Geographic : 2017 Oct
68 national geographic • october 2017 mixed-use development, called Jumeirah Cen- tral, where hundreds of buildings will be laid out on small, walkable blocks. They’ll be linked by trams to the mall and its metro stop. All discussions of Dubai’s future lead back to the Ruler, and from Emiratis and expats alike, I heard testimonials to the decisive leadership of Sheikh Mohammed. “We don’t have a lot of for- malities,” says Hussain Lootah, director general of the municipal government. “Here projects take days to be done; elsewhere, years.” It’s not just the lack of red tape—without a free press, political parties, or free elections, there’s little way—but it’s still a 10-to-15-mile drive to any of the multiple centers of Dubai. The metro, valu- able as it is, doesn’t reach the Sustainable City. Planners are rethinking how people move around the centers themselves. Janus Rostock, chief architect at Atkins, the firm that designed the metro, the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel, and Dubai Opera, is leading an effort to transform the area around Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, into a district of ground-floor shops and restaurants that invites people to stroll. Near the Mall of the Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed’s own Dubai Holding has planned a mile-long Opened in 2016, the two-mile-long Dubai Water Canal connects to both the Persian Gulf and the city’s natural harbor—the culmination of a plan first envisioned in 1959 by the city’s modernizing ruler. The project increases valuable waterfront real estate, slated for retail, housing, public parks and trails, marinas, and a ferry service.