Building despite the bubble

Building despite the bubble

The quality of architecture in Persian Gulf countries according to the author of the “Atlas”

Have you ever been to Qatar, Dubai or Abu Dhabi? If you have visited anyone of the countries or cities having a coastline on the Persian Gulf, you surely have been dazzled by the astounding architecture and stunning views offered by residential towers. Skyscrapers, museums, artificial islands, shopping malls and airports amaze Europeans in 2012 the way New York astonished our great-grandparents.

The Dubai property market is developing and growing at an unprecedented pace. Rents have increased to record highs; despite this, demand has not decreased. For this reason, many are considering buying a property rather than renting it. Property investments in Dubai – United Arab Emirates – are considered to be a profitable way to achieve gains and income. Overseas investors willing to diversify their investment portfolios are looking at Dubai market as they expect to obtain higher returns than in their domestic market. Many businesses are setting up in the emirate to take advantage of its excellent location and favourable tax system. Property prices have increased since freehold properties have been put at the disposal of foreign investors but despite this the demand for residential and commercial property is still expected to continue to increase.

Fernández-Galiano – a Spanish architect and professor at the School of Architecture in Madrid at the Universidad Politécnica – published an Atlas on contemporary architecture in Persian Gulf countries where society is composed by communities of immigrant workers with no rights – coming above all from Iran and Pakistan – and an élite of Western expatriates who moved there to make money.

Engineers are very well paid over there and can live an easy life. There’s a  great amount of money to invest in those countries, but even in Doha – the capital city of Qatar, which is one of the fastest developing countries in the world – there are bad-quality skyscrapers. An example of good architecture, instead, is Nouvel Project on Museum Island in Abu Dhabi. The Burj Khalifa – the highest tower in the world – is also an astounding building. The surrounding area is desolate. Residential neighbourhoods are characterised by houses most of which have been sold to Russian millionaires in search of a profitable investment. Those properties proposed as luxury properties do not offer the luxury amenities expected by potential investors. These countries are facing a bubble affecting oil prices. Dubai is the only exception, as the city is trying to diversify economy investing in tourism and financial services.

“What is important, anyway – the author of the Atlas says – is the creation of new and different urban societies. These urbanization processes are more important than architecture”.

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