Looking for Dubai, I’d made the mistake of going to the Mall of the Emirates with its hundreds of stores and infamous indoor ski slope, just because it was so over the top. But I came away depressed because it was only an extreme extension of the malling of the world that I lament ... All our stuff is now the same.
I suppose we should be flattered and relieved that a nation - especially an Arab nation, no? - chose to copy so much of America. But why did they chose as their inspiration Vegas (sans sins), malls, grossly conspicuous consumption, and Hollywood pap? I wasn’t sure whether I was sadder for them or us.
Dubai is either an act of fiction or of the future. I arrived thinking the former; I leave wondering whether it could be the latter.
Driving is the cultural anomaly of our moment. Someone from the past, I think, would marvel at how much time we spend in cars and how our geographic consciousness is defined by how far we can get in a few hours’ drive and still feel as if we’re close to home. Someone from the future, I’m sure, will marvel at our blindness and at the hole we have driven ourselves into, for we are completely committed to an unsustainable technology.