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Propaganda for the 21st Century

As I wandered amongst the skyscrapers in downtown Dubai, it was reminiscent of New York.

I remember when we visited the Big Apple in the mid 90s being told of the phallic ambitions of the Rothschilds, Chryslers, Vandebilts and the like to build the highest building in the world. Standing at the 86th floor of the Empire State Building as darkness fell, surveying Manhattan and New York below was quite a thrill and certainly an experience I will never forget.

The overall height of the Empire State Building, at the time of its erection (sic) and for many years afterwards the tallest building in the world, is 1,453 feet or 443 metres.

In Dubai, I stood next to the current holder of the title of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Burj means tower and the Khalifa part of the name comes from the president of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. At 2717 feet or 828 metres it’s a kick in the arse away from being twice the height of the Empire State Building.

We came out of the unfeasibly huge Dubai Shopping Mall onto the rather pleasant terrace which houses various restaurants (just don’t ask for a beer or a bacon sandwich) and borders the man-made lake which is the location of these fountains.

On this occasion I only had the wee camera and from a couple of hundred yards away I had to squint it to get the majority of the building in:


However, to get a taste of how truly enormous the Burj Khalifa is, watch the following video. The narrative is fairly typical of what you hear from tour guides and information recordings in Dubai. Always delivered in either an American film trailer voiceover style or a rich, plummy English motif, the content is usually redolent of a wartime propaganda film.

On the open-topped bus tour, the rich, plummy English voice informed that “The state religion of Dubai is Islam. Islam is a very progressive and tolerant religion and people are permitted to practice their religious faith whatever that may be”. And that was the tone of the whole guided tour.

Anyhoo, here is the vid:


3 Responses

  1. “The Burj Khalifa belongs to the world as much as it belongs to the UAE – after all the world came together to make this iconic marvel possible!”
    How can you say such inspiration is propaganda?

  2. Good to have some background to this building, amazing that it all came together.

  3. Lets build a tower that reaches up to heaven and make a name for ourselves. Unless we go bust of course……

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