Dubai sometimes evokes images of the Wizard of Oz's Emerald City. It has got that singular glass tower with cascading levels that rises high into the sky, standing brilliantly as the tallest manmade structure on earth. But the Burj Khalifa is not the city's only triumphant pinnacle. There are many other gleaming skyscrapers of various shapes and sizes.
In Dubai Marina, the so-called tallest block on the planet also conjures up that Emerald City image.
In the foreground of the Emerald City towers is Dubai's Internet City, a cluster of lowrise office blocks and lakes laid out in campus-like fashion. It is built in a chic corporate manner à la business Americana--think Microsoft in Redmond Washington, Apple in Cupertino California or Infosys in Bangalore.
The Emerald City rises majestically above the land and seascape! Turn the clock back 10 years and this highrise oasis did not yet exist. The city is not only amazing for its heights but also for its speed.
But things have slowed down post 2008 and the new normal in Dubai means growth at only twice the speed of the average city rather than 20 times.
Life in the tallest block is still evolving. There are a lot of new residents as some towers have recently been completed, but still many more residents are yet to come. Construction goes on on towers, road works and a new high-tech tram line.
Most residents keep cars in the big podiums at the base of each tower, but visitors and shoppers fend for space on sandy lanes and plots that surround many of the towers. Shops also are scarce but increasing with small groceries joining dry cleaners and the odd bank branch, pharmacy or cafe.
Street culture has yet to emerge in the tallest block, but nice strolls can be had in the vicinity, either along the several kilometers of bricked promenade along the Marina canal or in the neighboring, more established Media and Internet Cities' business plazas.
An Evening Stroll
So, I start my evening wondering where to go for a walk this time. My backyard, so to speak, is a forest of towers. How about the Palm Jumeirah then? On my last walk I enjoyed the breeze and greenery around Media City and Internet City's lakes.
I walk past the canyon of towers and cross the road that separates the tallest block from Media City.
There is no sign of the promenade coming to life soon. After snapping photos I made my way back to Internet City to enjoy again the peaceful greenery and magnificent views of the tallest block.