Brand-Dubai

There is much written about Dubai however most of the academic writing about Dubai that goes further than the economic conversation is written by Yasser Elsheshtawy, an Associate Professor of Architecture at the UAE University. Although Elsheshtawy has done an extensive amount of writing, it was refreshing to discover a excerpt by someone on the outside of what is happening in Dubai. The chapter by Chad Haines in Worlding Cities complemented Elsheshtawy’s books, further exploring the term “Dubaization” and taking a more critical position on the city as an outsider.

The section of the chapter on “Dubai-as-Brand: Imagining Desirable Landscapes” speaks of Dubai as a global city and its success in terms of being inter-referenced. I have extracted a piece from Haine’s introduction to summarize Dubai’s global aspirations:

The idea of Dubai is intentionally manufactured as a brand, rooted in its project of presence; brand Dubai is about being visible, engendering global visibility and wealth visibility. Brand Dubai is circulated and consumed throughout Asia, Africa, and. the Middle East, crafting new forms of urban presence, new means of being wealthy and new markers of global success. Dubai’s worlding presence is engendered in the interweaving of multiple processes, produced, circulated, and consumed in a diversity of locales, from small villages in Pakistan to Cairo, from New York to Tokyo.[1]

Dubai, in all its essence, is “selling a nation identity to global capital” as discussed in our final session. It is a city preoccupied with its image, concerned with remaining an economic power and global presence, and eventually making the leap to megacity status. As I progressed through my blog series I attempted to address topics that were issues unique to Dubai as a result of its competitive nature and rapid growth. Because even with all of Dubai’s subsurface social, political and economic problems, that are not unknown to the world, it is still considered a success. Maybe not so much in the eyes of the western world but certainly to Cairo, India, Amman, Doha and even Incheon.[2]

Much of Dubai’s branding is done to attract capital investments and visitors. Nearly five million people visit Dubai every year and they hope to attract fifteen million per year by 2020. [3] People circulate through Dubai, around the world, and back home, playing a part in Dubai’s global exchange. Once more, this is contradictory to the idea of Nationalism that Emirati’s want to build in Dubai, as locals flee the westernized, tourist city center.

What is most intriguing about Haines’ “Brand-Dubai” argument is the idea that Dubai not only wants to attract visitors but it wants to detract expatriate long-term term residents by developing satellite Dubai’s in the expatriates’ home countries.[4] This point begins to fuse Dubai’s desire for capital investment and nationalism. Therefore inter-referencing is playing two essential roles. Nevertheless, resolving the contradiction between capitalistic and nationalistic desires does not resolve “the cracks in the façade,” [5] the human infrastructure that is covered up by glamour on the surface. The idea of detracting expatriates from permanently residing in Dubai is the catalyst for the issues found beneath the surface.

“Introduction: The Art of Being Global” in Worlding Cities was a chapter we read prior to our case study presentations. The chapter introduced the ideas of modeling and inter-referencing existing successful cities, a valuable lead in into the Haines chapter focusing on Dubai. Ong compares the two terms explaining, “While urban modeling is a concrete instantiation of acknowledging another city’s achievements, inter-referencing refers more broadly to practices of citation, allusion, aspiration, comparison, and competition”.[6] From that reading, discussion was directed towards what that means for both the city being referenced and the city doing the referencing.  Incheon’s New Songdo City was the case study that illustrated inter-referencing and related most to that aspect of Dubai. The subsequent  blog post will address the two cities as Instant Cities and touch upon inter-referencing.

Surface

Cracks in the Facade


Footnotes

[1] Chad Haines, “Cracks in the Façade: Landscapes of Hope and Desire in Dubai.” Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global. Ed. Ananya Roy and Aihwa Ong. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Limited, 2011. 160.

[2] Yasser Elsheshtawy, Dubai: Behind an Urban Spectacle. New York: Routledge, 2010. 249-279.

[3] Samer Bagaeen, “Brand Dubai: The Instant City; or the Instantly Recognizable City.” 174.

[4] Chad Haines, 165.

[5] Chad Haines, 165.

[6] Aihwa Ong. “Introduction: The Art of Being Global.” Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global. Ed. Ananya Roy and Aihwa Ong. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Limited, 2011. 17.

Works Cited

Bagaeen, Samer. “Brand Dubai: The Instant City; or the Instantly Recognizable City.” International Planning Studies. 12. 2 (2007): 173-197. Web.

Elsheshtawy, Yasser. Dubai: Behind an Urban Spectacle. New York: Routledge, 2010

Haines, Chad. “Cracks in the Façade: Landscapes of Hope and Desire in Dubai.” Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global. Ed. Ananya Roy and Aihwa Ong. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Limited, 2011.

Ong, Aihwa. “Introduction: The Art of Being Global.” Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global. Ed. Ananya Roy and Aihwa Ong. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Limited, 2011.

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