By Becky Lucas www.timeoutdubai.com
Imagine the scene: we’re amid one of the worst recessions the world has ever seen. We’ve just crossed into a new decade and are clutching at the very short straws of hope that things might get better in 2010. Four days in, the world’s tallest building opens in our home town. It meets its third deadline and has been constructed in just five years, with one fatality and 23 million hours of labour completed without injury. Its true height is kept secret right until the launch, and is 10 metres higher than everyone thought. Its new name is announced right at the last minute.
The launch ceremony involves a hot air balloon, parachutists, the world’s largest dancing fountain and a fireworks display, during which explosives cascade from the tower, lighting up the sky and international news channels.
‘Now I know the meaning of the word “anti-climactic”,’ one friend tapped into Facebook minutes later. ‘The fireworks could have gone on for longer,’ another texted from her Palm vantage point. ‘It wasn’t as good as the Atlantis opening ceremony,’ a colleague mulled the next day.
I would like these people, along with anyone else who found themselves apathetic following the display on January 4, to return to the top of this piece and read the first paragraph again. And again, if necessary. Now tell me again that you’re anti-climactic.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of these blinkered Dubaians who can’t bear to admit the emirate has various ‘areas in need of improvement’. Bad driving irritates me; infuriatingly slow service at expensive restaurants; the fact that whatever note you give to pay your shopping bill you’re always required to dig around for a dirham.
But when it comes to dozens of world records being broken before my eyes, I tend not to moan. What would it have taken to reach that much-desired climax, I wonder? Would the tower have had to jet into the air and do a 360° spin? For the first time in a long time, this cosmopolitan city felt united in triumph. I’ll remember the collective gasps and squeals of shock and sheer delight as the ultimate round of explosives scatter-gunned from both sides of the building. I’ll remember the texts from friends in London and Perth asking for a first-hand account. And I’ll remember the news that people had stopped their cars on Sheikh Zayed Road to marvel at the show – and that entire camps of labourers in Al Quoz had gathered to watch the spectacle from afar. But then I didn’t see the Atlantis fireworks – so what do I know?