Dubai is the most populous city of the confusingly named Dubai, one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Its primary export is photos tagged WTF!? and crazy.
Just The Facts
- Dubai is a constitutional monarchy that has been ruled by the Al Maktoum family since 1833.
- Despite having a population of about 1.42 million, Dubai has no address system.
- The Burj Dubai, the world's tallest manmade structure, is the LEAST interesting major building in the entire city.
Growth of Dubai
Dubai was established in the early 1800s by the Al Abu Falasa clan, although it remained a dependent of fellow UAE member Abu Dhabi until 1833, a very embarrassing situation for an emirate old enough to get its own place. If that wasn't bad enough, 1833 was the year that the Al Maktoum dynasty wandered out of Abu Dhabi and promptly took over Dubai, apparently without resistance.
The city of Dubai has long been an important port of call for some foreign tradesmen, most notably from India. Around the turn of the 20th century, the ruling emir was very keen on building trade relationships. By 1966, this strategy had turned the city into the booming metropolis seen below:
Things have gotten a little busier since.
The Jebel Ali free zone is a free economic zone created by an Emiri Decree in 1985. The success of the free zone led to the creation of several others, including Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Dubai Maritime City. Please note that all of these things are made up of more or less normal buildings.
All that changed with the construction of the Burj Al Arab, the city's iconic hotel. Even before it was completed, other unusual buildings had started to rise towards the heavens. Today, the city has the appearance of a perfect backdrop for a fight between M.C. Escher and H.R. Giger after they've been cyborged and grown to gigantic size.
Dubai's Crazy Skyline
Dubai City truly lives up to its nickname: Fuckingnutstropolis. And nowhere is this more visibly expressed than in the city's famous buildings, many of which make regular weird buildings look like something out of The Flintstones.
By 2010, Dubai will have more than 80 highrises over 200 meters, putting the city ahead of Hong Kong and New York, which up until recently had been the gold standard in human rat warrens.
The biggest building in Dubai, the world and probably any planet that hasn't built a space elevator yet, is the Burj Dubai. We could give you the number of stories, or how much total square footage it has, but Cracked likes to convey messages as simply as possible, so here it is: IT'S OVER HALF A GODDAMN MILE TALL.
Dubai is also home to the Burj Al Arab, a luxury hotel and the second tallest hotel in the world. It looks like a sailboat fin, once again proving that there is nothing so ridiculous an architect won't try to make a building look like it.
The crazy construction projects will continue for some time into the future, including really strange stuff such as the underwater hotel, Hydropolis, and the probably LSD-induced Dynamic Tower (see 5 Amazing Buildings of the Future and How They'll Kill You).
Also under construction is Dubai Land, an amusement park that will eventually cover three billion square-feet. The initial infrastructure for this incredibly over-the-top monument to wasted man hours will cost about $814 million dollars. In other words, Dubai Land far out does Disney Land, even with the recent addition of toy themed killer robots to the latter. (see Robotic Mr. Potato Head Will Kill Us All).
Life in Dubai
"You can be assured of an exciting pace of life in Dubai and a high standard of living," says Rhiannon Williamson in her article Dubai Lifestyle - The History of the City and Day to Day Life in Dubai. Cracked has to wonder what city Ms. Williamson is actually referring to here, as it certainly couldn't be Dubai.
For one thing, Dubai stinks, and we mean that literally. This isn't Cracked talking, by the way. We have independent confirmation from people who live there. The city has massive sewage problems, and it doesn't look like things are going to get better soon.
Still, at least the people living there have a high standard of living, right? Right? They do indeed, assuming that you redefine the word people to mean "extraordinarily rich bipeds," and ignore the constant human rights violations.
You may have a shitty job, but if you're doing that job in America (or anywhere in the First World for that matter), then we can guarantee that you have a better job than every single lower class person in Dubai.
Businesses in Dubai are encouraged to hire people from neighboring countries to come to Dubai and work. Contracts are typically a decade long. Your job at Burger King may not be much fun, but at least you haven't been indentured to it for a full 10 years. They're promised a certain rate of pay, but they aren't told until they get there that the company will be deducting the cost of living from their checks. Please bear in mind that this is a city where a bag of lettuce costs about 10 bucks.
So why don't the laborers quit and go home? Well, typically the company they're working for has taken away their passport, despite this being highly illegal. Workers are not permitted to strike, because protests are also illegal. The government only bothers enforcing one of these laws. Guess which one?
Things have apparently gotten so bad for many of these people, that that they've taken to jumping in front of cars on a not infrequent basis. Working at the 7-11 or Texaco may not be great, but you can probably think of a better solution to this (hint: smoke weed) than suicide.
Even if you are a rich person, there are certain things you just can't do in Dubai. For example, the government blocks all websites that it deems offensive. In other words, no one in Dubai will ever read this.
Despite having a large population, Dubai has no address system. None at all. If you want something delivered, you have to draw a map. If you want to take a taxi, you have to draw a map. If you want to find your way home drunk, you're fucked.