Friday, November 07, 2008

More bad news for Brand Dubai

I've just been reading an AFP story in the Sydney Morning Herald, the headline being "Dubai's beaches face a stinking problem"

After the original plethora of positive stories with everything presented in glowing terms, we're seeing more and more of these negative reports. From the living and working conditions of labourers to the whale shark to the beach romp jail sentences to the beach pollution issue.

So much of Dubai's success in future depends on tourism that it must be causing concern in high places.

The story begins like this:

Dubai's beautiful beaches have been making headlines because of a couple who allegedly had sex by the sea, but a more pervasive nuisance from washed up sewage threatens to deter tourists.

For several weeks some of the emirate's fabled beaches have been covered with the stinking contents of septic tanks as Dubai suffers the consequences of its frantic and poorly controlled development.

The foul effluent, which threatens to damage Dubai's image, highlights one of the paradoxes of the emirates -- it can build the world's tallest tower and six-star hotels but has not constructed the sewage works it needs.

New apartment blocks and neighbourhoods are rising everywhere at a record pace, but infrastructure is dragging behind.

For example, the city still has no main drainage system, hence the need for tankers to collect the contents of septic tanks and transport the waste to the emirate's only sewage treatment works at Al-Awir, out in open desert.

It is of course all to do with the thing I complain about endlessly. Lack of or incompetent planning.

I was actually intending to start this post about here, with another, much less dramatic, example of incompetent planning. The Herald article was on the same subject so I started with that instead.

My little example is in Jumeirah Beach Residence, along the very pleasant area known as The Walk.

Completed, attractive areas are being dug up by the holescaping gangs.

As I've said many times before, this creates inconvenience, it adds unnecessary noise & dirt pollution, it obviously adds costs.

In The Walk many recently finished perfectly good kerb areas were being dug up, jack-hammers blasting away.

I couldn't understand why, but now I see. They forgot to include wheelchair access ramps. So now they're putting them in...

Other areas, also complete and looking good, have been jackhammered away and huge holes have been dug.

It looks to me as though they'll eventually be water features. Water features they didn't think about before they'd finished the construction.

It isn't just one forgetful or incompetent individual, there's a long line of people responsible for this.

The executives giving the original briefing, the designers, all the people in the chain who approved the designs up to senior executives who signed off on the plans, the people who approved various stages of the work. No-one said "What about the access ramps?" No-one said "We need a fountain at the bottom of the steps."

Only after all the work is finished are these things raised.

The problems we face were avoidable. All of them. It needed, still needs, planning.

But there isn't any.

The Sydney Morning Herald article is here.


Duffy said...

Why is it (or does it seem) that they give no thought to infrastructure? Who is in charge of civic and municipal planning? From road congestion, parking problems, no mass transit (yet), sewage treatment, half finished projects torn down and rebuilt anew, disastrous toll roads and insufficient bridges. It's like everyone wants to build the fun stuff (Burj Dubai) but nobody gives a fig for anything required to support it.

Anonymous said...

May be they are testing how robust the design is .. or testing how easy would future maintenance be ...

I hope one day they do learn from their mistakes as they are supposed to do .. Could someone please tell me they will one day !

I think we should read posts about the instances of planning, as that could be something worth pointing out !

Anonymous said...

I gave the reasons as to why infratsructure, not sure whether anyone remembers it.

Dubai in particular is obsessed with doing things "quickly".

So its very likely that any of the higher-ups who called for better infratsructure was dismissed by other higher-ups as being "slow-paced" and "unambitious".

Another factor is greed; a building finished 2 years earlier even with substandard infratsucture will earn more in the short run , than one 2 years later.

After all the owners, real estate agents and developer hotshots want their 911's and Cayennes NOW, and not 2 years later.

Seabee said...

Duffy that's the $64,000 question!

Things are done incredibly quickly here, the problem is that infrastructure wasn't started early enough. The Metro for example is being completed in an amazingly short time - but it didn't start until about four years after the huge developments started. Had it been started when they were it would have been up and running a couple of years ago.

I guess the problem goes back to when Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid announced freehold property and his vision for the future that went with it. The very first project should have been a master plan.

That would have included transport, roads, sewage treatment, water, power, plus things like police, fire brigade, ambulance service, healthcare facilities, postal system expansion - in other words, Town Planning.

It didn't happen.