Cityscapes are where we glimpse the future, but in miniature.
Billions of dirhams are pledged on basis of gleaming models, over which investors tower like the hero of Gulliver’s Travels.
It is a business model which has served the UAE well, turning cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi in architectural marvels as well as powerhouses of economic growth.
Cityscape Global 2017 in Dubai promises more of the same.
The star of the first day was clearly District One Residences, the third phase of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City, with apartments featuring waterfront views and the chance to go kayaking in the heart of Dubai, at least according to the artist’s impression.
Among those inspecting the project on the opening morning was Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.
Once completed the 48 million square foot MBR City will offer the: “world's tallest residential tower, the tallest observation deck, the longest indoor ski slope and the largest dancing fountain as well as the newly launched Meydan One Mall.
Also due to be unveiled is District 2020, the legacy of Expo 2020, which will reimagine the exhibition site as a mix of commercial and residential projects, with a conference and exhibition centre.
This is the 16th Cityscape Global, with around 300 exhibitors from the UAE and 30 countries.
In Abu Dhabi, Japan’s Nikken Sekkei and the UAE’s National Bonds Corporation have unveiled the 44-story “super luxury” Reem Tower, at the Reem Island’s Marina Square.
According to Nikken’s region director, Dr Fadi Jabri, it will be: “A luxury iconic tower in an iconic area of Abu Dhabi.”
Residents can expect an infinity pool, jacuzzis, a fully equipped gym and a “yoga lawn.”
Also in the capital, Aldar will be promoting its Water’s Edge development of 2,255 homes on Yas, a decade after the island made its debut at Cityscape in 2007.
Nakheel is promoting its 180 metre Palm Beach Residences on the Palm Jumeirah, complete with a 38th floor sky lounge with views over the Arabian Gulf.
Cityscape is also nothing without its more exotic projects, the equivalent of its fringe festival. The Kleindienst Group, proud owners of six islands on The World and developers of The Floating Seahorse villas, has this year gone one step further with The Floating Venice.
Billed as: “The world’s first five-star floating destination, bringing the charm, serenity and culture of Venice to the tranquil shores of Dubai,” it will include real gondolas imported from Italy for the 3,000 guests.
This version of La Serenissima will also feature an entire floor under the water – something that the real Venice has spent the last 40 years and seven billion US dollars trying to avoid.