Thursday, February 25, 2010

Now Dubai Aquarium has a problem

Following closely on the malfunctioning lifts in Burj Khalifa creating bad international publicity for Brand Dubai we have another bad story.

The huge aquarium in Dubai Mall has sprung a leak, causing an area of about 100 shops to be cordoned off with people told to leave the area.

The Wall Street Journal heads the story "Leak at Dubai Mall Aquarium Forces Evacuation"

It notes that it's: "the latest mishap to hit one of Emaar's prestigious projects. The company was forced this month to close the viewing deck in the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, in the center of Dubai."

A visitor from the US is quoted as saying: "It seems that as they're building things here, they're crumbling at the same time."

And the head of Middle East research at UBS AG told the WSJ: "Emaar has always been known as a quality developer, but they've been under pressure to finish Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa. I'm not surprised that they've had maintenance issues. They've definitely put into question their quality and are compromising their quality over volume."

The news wires have put the story out, it's starting to appear in the media all over the world and the reports use words like 'evacuation' and 'shark tank' to add to the drama.

The Chicago Tribune headlines the story "Dubai's latest blooper".

Even the usually restrained BBC runs the headline "Huge shark-filled aquarium in Dubai cracks open".

Apart from the more serious media I always like to check out what the tabloids are saying, because they have the most readers and so shape much more opinion, sadly.

Predictably, the UK tabloid The Sun screams: "Terror as mall shark tank cracks". It goes on to tell its several million readers: "Shoppers at the Dubai Mall fled in terror fearing that they about to be engulfed by 10 million gallons of water holding 33,000 sea creatures...Mall security men donned life jackets"

And inevitably, according to The Sun: ...anyone with photos of the drama were ordered by cops to delete them."

Too late, the paper has a photo of water gushing from the crack.

Naturally, most of the stories also refer back to the lift problem in Burj Khalifa and to Dubai's debt problems.

It's all doing huge damage to Dubai's reputation and it's becoming a PR man's nightmare.

The Wall Street Journal story is here.

The Chicago Tribune is here.

The BBC has the story here.

The Sun story is here.


hemlock said...

seabee, i follow your stories with a lot of interest because you separate the wheat from the chaff, especially when the chaff in question is The Sun.

I saw the leak photo and had the exact comments.

what baffles me about businesses here (and the govt) is how they believe bad publicity will just go away. every single story in the international media has referred to the burj khalifa lift problem. the internet doesnt forget.

why is it so hard for people to just own their mistakes? and say, look, we are sorry this happened. khalas.
denial, cover-ups, "no-photographs please..."

Anonymous said...

It's all doing huge damage to Dubai's reputation

What reputation are you talking about?

In order to have a reputation, Dubai must first have a heart, a character, and a soul. As far as I can see, this city has none of the above nor this country or better yet, this whole region for that matter!

Anonymous said...

Its about priorities:
Opening things when they are 100% ready should be much more important than opening things as soon as possible to coincide with special dates or to show how "Dubai is ambitious".

However, the reverse is generally true in Dubai.

That said, a small possibility is that the contractors/subcontractors skimped on quality in order to save money.

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