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360-degree panorama photo taken atop the world's tallest building
January 30, 2013 8:12 AM   Subscribe

This 2.5 gigapixel panoramic image (zoom) was taken from the top of Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world's tallest building. It was taken to promote the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award, the world's richest photography award, sponsored and created by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai.
posted by stbalbach (69 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I mean, the whole "tallest building ever" thing is cool and all, but every time I see images of the surroundings I always wonder why anyone would want to build anything there, much less a multi-billion dollar phallic symbol.
posted by valkyryn at 8:17 AM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this is cool and all, but there's just nothing there to see. It seems to just reinforce how ridiculous the Dubai building frenzy of the last decade was.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:18 AM on January 30, 2013


Yeah, it's amazing how empty a place can be when you skip over the low-rise step of development and skip right to 50+ story high-rises. It's like one row of tall buildings along the metro, and nothing behind them.
posted by smackfu at 8:20 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is arguably the greatest image on earth

It is a desperate rubric for greatness indeed that would result in this image being its exemplar.
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:21 AM on January 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


It's a 2.5 gigapixel photograph devoid of any soul. You could have accomplished the same thing by photographing a circuit board with a 4x5 camera and a scanning back.
posted by photoslob at 8:22 AM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is arguably the greatest image on earth

It is the greatest image in exactly the same way as the Burj Khalifa is the greatest building.
posted by zamboni at 8:23 AM on January 30, 2013 [25 favorites]


It is arguably the greatest image on earth

imma let them finish, but nyan cat
posted by DU at 8:24 AM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, wow, what a weird video. It's like a really sentimental commercial for being born insanely, unbelievably wealthy. Who made that? Who's the intended audience?
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:25 AM on January 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Immediate thoughts.

1. (Looking straight down) odd, but appears to be some distance above the building it's supposedly taken from the top of?

2. No public transport anywhere? Is surviving there totally reliant on having an air-conditioned car?

3. Heck, it's SimCity. Except one where the options for interesting terrain, culture and aspects of humanity are turned off, and the designer got bored very quickly of adding trees and other nice bits of nature.
posted by Wordshore at 8:26 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is arguably the greatest image on earth

AND THE ENTIRE KNOWN UNIVERSE
posted by roger ackroyd at 8:26 AM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


At the top of the page it asks : Is this the greatest image on Earth?

If by great you mean a picture of rampant land development resulting in structures that have no business being where they are, then maybe yes.

If by great you mean a picture that expresses something that cannot be described in words because of its visual beauty, then absolutely no.

It’s a cool picture and all that, but it seems to be more of a “let me hold a contest so I can revel in the fact that I spent a lot of money” more than some quest for a memorable image.

Your taxes gas prices at work.
posted by lampshade at 8:27 AM on January 30, 2013


Heck, it's SimCity. Except one where the options for interesting terrain, culture and aspects of humanity are turned off, and the designer got bored very quickly of adding trees and other nice bits of nature.

As in so many SimCity games, they got killed by the debt payments.
posted by jaduncan at 8:28 AM on January 30, 2013


Cool, you can see the Palm Islands in the distance. Such a bizarre idea. I love it for its bizarreness.
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:28 AM on January 30, 2013


Look, I can see your haj from here.
posted by hal9k at 8:29 AM on January 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Needs a dangling Tom Cruise.
posted by brundlefly at 8:32 AM on January 30, 2013


taken from the top of Burj Khalifa in Dubai,

If you look directly downwards it doesn't look like it's directly on top at all. There is, for example, no floor but there is a roof apparently somewhat below.

Am I missing something about how this is made?
posted by jaduncan at 8:32 AM on January 30, 2013


I like how they allege that a photography award program that started last year is "internationally renowned", and then follow up by basically admitting that the only reason for this alleged renown is that they offer the biggest prize.
posted by elizardbits at 8:33 AM on January 30, 2013


I just picture Dubai as being full of dudes both literally and metaphorically bludgeoning one another with enormous solid gold penises.
posted by elizardbits at 8:34 AM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bah. I couldn't zoom in enough to see a single indentured construction worker. What kind of representation is this?
posted by cromagnon at 8:35 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you zoom in to the south you can almost see the slave colonies...
2. No public transport anywhere? Is surviving there totally reliant on having an air-conditioned car?
There is a Dubai Metro.
posted by Jehan at 8:35 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snap!
posted by Jehan at 8:35 AM on January 30, 2013


I always wonder why anyone would want to build anything there, much less a multi-billion dollar phallic symbol.

I think you have your answer right there.
posted by Skeptic at 8:36 AM on January 30, 2013


Also, wow, what a weird video. It's like a really sentimental commercial for being born insanely, unbelievably wealthy. Who made that?

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Who's the intended audience?

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
posted by theodolite at 8:37 AM on January 30, 2013 [21 favorites]


I just picture Dubai as being full of dudes both literally and metaphorically bludgeoning one another with enormous solid gold penises.

WHO RUN BUBBLETOWN?
posted by Sangermaine at 8:38 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


multi-billion dollar phallic symbol.

Dubai somewhat amuses me in that it seems rather like cargo cult capitalism.

New York and London are sensible to build high rise/skyscrapers in because there's a lot of pressure for land. They are happily relatively successful in business. Therefore Dubai must build skyscrapers because that indicates business success in the West.
posted by jaduncan at 8:39 AM on January 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


1. (Looking straight down) odd, but appears to be some distance above the building it's supposedly taken from the top of?

Ha! Good catch. And by "some distance," you mean, like, three or four times the height of the building.

Nice try, Dubai. (<---new trendy catchphrase)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:40 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's the heat, the aridness (only water salt water) that puts me off even pictures of this place. Either having to stay in an (artificial) air conditioned environment, or endure sweaty, burning heat. Urgh. Can feel skin getting itchy just looking at this.

(Also the fact that Jim Davidson describes this place as 'home' doesn't endear it, either. Skin, itchy again, etc.)

Going to watch one of the lovely, cool, refreshing videos on this FPP again to feel less parched now.
posted by Wordshore at 8:41 AM on January 30, 2013


Also the fact that Jim Davidson describes this place as 'home' doesn't endear it, either.

In fairness, it was always fairly clear that he wanted to be waited on by some ethnically defined slave class.
posted by jaduncan at 8:43 AM on January 30, 2013


New York and London are sensible to build high rise/skyscrapers in because there's a lot of pressure for land. They are happily relatively successful in business. Therefore Dubai must build skyscrapers because that indicates business success in the West.

And they build more land on the ocean, when they've got miles and miles of perfectly good land on, um, land.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:43 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Also the fact that Jim Davidson describes this place as 'home'

Not for long :)
posted by cromagnon at 8:43 AM on January 30, 2013


jaduncan, they're better locations but colossal glamour projects are still not unreservedly great ideas - AFAIK the Shard is still at 0% occupancy, months after opening.
posted by forgetful snow at 8:44 AM on January 30, 2013


Isn't Jim Davidson soon to be a guest at one of Her Majesty's hostels for the naughty?
posted by Jehan at 8:45 AM on January 30, 2013


No public transport anywhere? Is surviving there totally reliant on having an air-conditioned car?

Not to be That Guy, but I mean, I suppose we could ask the folks who have been living there for like, I dunno, nine thousand years how they do it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:46 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you zoom in to the south you can almost see the slave colonies...

This is the only reason I opened this image, and sure enough, if you look at the periphery where city turns into desert in the south, there are a lot of buildings that look like they drew their inspiration from a delightful range of architectural options including Soviet apartment buildings and straight-up concentration camps. Anyone know Dubai well enough to confirm or deny that this is where the foreign workers live?
posted by oinopaponton at 8:46 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dubai-ous
posted by Flashman at 8:49 AM on January 30, 2013


Ah yes, the majestic Burj Dubai Khalifa (see fun fact #10)
posted by obscurator at 8:49 AM on January 30, 2013


This makes me wanna play Crackdown again...
posted by aerotive at 8:50 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


if you watch one of the Dubai Metro videos on youtube (maybe start here at 6:30) it looks positively metropolitan, compared to the arid wasteland of that picture.

Not seeing the street level helps probably.

Also note that the Burj Dubai is far away from the city center, you can see it if you skip forward to 26:30.
posted by ts;dr at 8:52 AM on January 30, 2013


Isn't it true that Dubai has no sewage system? So the world's tallest building actually has a cesspit!
posted by Jehan at 8:55 AM on January 30, 2013


If you look directly downwards it doesn't look like it's directly on top at all. There is, for example, no floor but there is a roof apparently somewhat below.

I assumed the camera was attached to the top of a rooftop antenna, and that the blindspot in the center of the image as you look straight down was the antenna itself.
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:55 AM on January 30, 2013


"I assumed the camera was attached to the top of a rooftop antenna, and that the blindspot in the center of the image as you look straight down was the antenna itself."


yes, it is an effect of editing a 360 picture together. You can see the same effect on all of these pictures.
posted by ts;dr at 8:57 AM on January 30, 2013


Isn't it true that Dubai has no sewage system? So the world's tallest building actually has a cesspit!

It's being built out. I would assume that the new build stuff is hooked in at build time; it's cheaper that way.
posted by jaduncan at 9:12 AM on January 30, 2013


I really wanted to zoom into some windows or some dog slobber or something.
posted by Chutzler at 9:17 AM on January 30, 2013


Cool, you can see the Palm Islands in the distance. Such a bizarre idea. I love it for its bizarreness.

You can also see the World Islands, the sheer scale and wanton wastefulness of which I find similarly horrifying and entrancing. I guess I understand where they were coming from originally, as the UAE seemed to approach building out their infrastructure with the idea that their oil reserves would remain a consistent source of wealth for generations to come, but -- what the hell? Building islands in the middle of the sea next to a giant desert? How could that ever be considered remotely sustainable, and why wouldn't its clear lack of sustainability take it off the drawing board before the first grain of sand was dredged?

Dubai (Palm/World Islands in particular.. and let's not forget The Universe!) is one of those topics I can read about for hours on end, if only to marvel over the hubris, stupidity, stubbornness, ruthlessness, and ingenuity of the human race. Not only are all the islands that slave laborers painstakingly terraformed slowly eroding back into the waters from whence they came, but all the city's raw sewage that doesn't manage to make it onto a truck that can queue long enough to successfully drop its cargo at the city's one (1) sewage treatment plant... just gets dumped onto sand dunes, into storm drains, or straight-up directly into the Persian Gulf. Those pristine white sand beaches and sparkling turquoise waters are rife with shit and piss. A lot of days, I feel like our species simply doesn't deserve to inhabit the earth.

Thanks for posting this.
posted by divined by radio at 9:33 AM on January 30, 2013


Good lord, I am getting vertigo just scrolling around that thing.
posted by Kitteh at 9:43 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I assumed the camera was attached to the top of a rooftop antenna, and that the blindspot in the center of the image as you look straight down was the antenna itself.

There's also a weird area on one of the rooftop decks where something has been edited out. You can see where the shadows don't point the same direction, and one side of the deck is the mirror image of the opposite side, right down to the stains in the cement.

Part of that deck is cut off in a weird way, but I could put that down to the panorama just not resolving neatly. The mirrored deck is definitely Photoshoppery.
posted by lostburner at 9:44 AM on January 30, 2013


imma let them finish, but nyan cat oprah-bees.gif
posted by emelenjr at 9:48 AM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's really fun to zoom in on stuff though. The airport looks very science-fictiony in a 90s way.
posted by Mister_A at 9:53 AM on January 30, 2013


I stayed at a hotel on one of the palms for my friend's wedding last year. The palm peninsula things are really practical. It's all new beachfront. Same principal as those funky brownie pans.
posted by w0mbat at 10:05 AM on January 30, 2013


The place you live sucks, you’re doing it wrong.
posted by bongo_x at 10:16 AM on January 30, 2013


Money-obsessed urban centre in the middle of an arid desert, with incongruously, crassly extravagant giant buildings, an underpaid underclass serving the absurdly rich, and no public transport?

The punchline is: Las Vegas.
posted by Drexen at 10:48 AM on January 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


I spent some time with comparing this with Google Maps and was surprised that you can only see detail out to about 10-15 miles. I found, for instance, Dubai Textile City (9 mi.) to be an interesting landmark simply because of the mass of low rectangular pastel-roofed buildings. And although you can see the World Islands (5 mi.) and the Palm Jumeria (10 mi.), I can barely make out the Palm Jabel Ali (20 mi.)

Also interesting - not covered by Street View.
posted by achrise at 10:50 AM on January 30, 2013


The difference between Las Vegas and Dubai is that Las Vegas earns its own upkeep.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:54 AM on January 30, 2013


I spent some time with comparing this with Google Maps and was surprised that you can only see detail out to about 10-15 miles. I found, for instance, Dubai Textile City (9 mi.) to be an interesting landmark simply because of the mass of low rectangular pastel-roofed buildings. And although you can see the World Islands (5 mi.) and the Palm Jumeria (10 mi.), I can barely make out the Palm Jabel Ali (20 mi.)

This has to be due to atmospheric effects and/or the limitations of the camera used. The (theoretical) horizon at that height is about 70 miles away.
posted by axiom at 11:03 AM on January 30, 2013


The difference between Las Vegas and Dubai is that Las Vegas earns its own upkeep.

Sex on the beach in LV is a drink. In Dubai, it's a prison term. So maybe that's not the biggest difference.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:09 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, between LV and Dubai, I know where I'd rather get stoned.
posted by Mister_A at 11:12 AM on January 30, 2013


Good lord, I am getting vertigo just scrolling around that thing.

Then you need to ctrl-click/right-click/whatever-click and try out the various views. I recommend the little planet view especially--pan up and you can watch the world turn itself inside out.
posted by rodii at 11:14 AM on January 30, 2013


Putting that much high density commercial zoning in the middle of that sprawl of low value medium density industrial and low density residential is not a recipe for success in Sim City I can tell you that much.
posted by dosterm at 11:44 AM on January 30, 2013


I've always found Dubai to be eerily fascinating; everything I read about it makes it sound like a giant flashy Potemkin village for rich, Middle Eastern oilmen who live elsewhere to point to.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:09 PM on January 30, 2013


The thing about Dubai is that it never had that much oil, and the rulers have long been aware that it would soon dwindle. The growth of the town we see today is some kind of answer to that; a shot a building a working economy not based on oil. Dubai has sought to do over the last twenty years what many economies in the area will have to do at some point. The outcome for Dubai isn't that great because it doesn't have the groundwork: the modernity is skindeep, the economy is footloose, rule of law is weak, and the human cost is thousands of slaves. Look forward to when other Arabian countries are driven to do the same, and the forelook is awful.
posted by Jehan at 12:29 PM on January 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


The growth of the town we see today is some kind of answer to that; a shot a building a working economy not based on oil.
Jehan

I think what gets people is that it was such an obviously ridiculous, unworkable shot. How was building this absurdity the best idea? It's admirable that they're looking forward, but surely working on developing infrastructure and education and fostering and investing in new industries would have been a much, much better use of their money and would have better long-term results.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:01 PM on January 30, 2013


Lots of snark here, but I found myself clicking around and zooming in on stuff for WAY longer than I anticipated. Thanks for the post.
posted by muckster at 1:07 PM on January 30, 2013


Therefore Dubai must build skyscrapers because that indicates business success in the West.

I don't think so... a lot of this development is aimed at older Europeans who want to turn their boring but very expensive house into a retirement home in somewhere sunny (that isn't Spain). People buying an expensive condo either want a view or they want seafront. So lots of skyscrapers and lots of fake waterfront.
posted by smackfu at 1:13 PM on January 30, 2013


Does Edgar Martins have an entry in this?
posted by unliteral at 3:19 PM on January 30, 2013


I liked this portrayal of Dubai
posted by ymgve at 3:48 PM on January 30, 2013


Whilst I, too, must suppress an instinctive shudder when thinking of Dubai, as a monument to hubris, built on and perpetuating environmental depravity, authoritarianism and 19th century labour conditions, I must say I find the emotion, and in my opinion the racism/imperialism a lot of people reveal when talking about it quite interesting.

There is a sense of personal insult that does not seem present when talking about other emerging megalopises in Saudi Arabia, Brazil, sub-Saharan Africa - and a woeful ellipsis when considering the genesis of many of our own cities - built for reasons no more or less specious than Dubai's, with equally bad conditions.

I don't know, I don't think Dubai is as unusual as all that - goodness, surely the Bundt in Shanghai is at least as gaudy. It makes me wonder how much of the wide-eyed horror could be ascribed to the idea of a different, non-western, inferior culture "aping" us, and perhaps doing it better.

One might argue those aspects of Western culture and city-building are equally repellent, but they don't seem to engender the calumny, and indeed cramped cityscapes like New York are viewed as iconic.

In some ways, I think Dubai inspires such revulsion because we see so much of ourselves and our culture when looking at it. If it's not in the cement, we project it anyway. It defies notions of Western superiority at "Westerness", and exposes it for a shallow hypocrisy and a concept not worth championing. It is also a harbinger of a global turning away from the blue-haired, crotchety old-timers of the West. It forces us to wonder if Dubai will treat us like we treated Dubai - and all the non-western world. Thus, horror, mingled with an undercurrent of fear.
posted by smoke at 4:42 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


By the Bundt, did you mean the view across the Huangpu to Pudong? I thought the Bundt itself was rather nice.
posted by Wolof at 5:28 PM on January 30, 2013


I'm also kind of appalled by the imperialism/racism in the form of jokes or otherwise in this thread.

The punchline is: Las Vegas.

This, precisely. But it's going to be like Vegas on steroids from another planet.

Dubai isn't doing anything that the US hasn't done or is currently doing. We're also supported by oil. Almost everything cultural under the sun that the US has done in the last 100 years is supported by oil. Art, sciences, the food you eat, the clothes all around you, your bed, landing on the moon.

They're a mirror of Western luxury and comfort culture. They're doing this on purpose to attract hyperrich tourists. They're going to become an adult, permissive Disneyland-Vegas. They'll selectively look away from rule-breaking like "sex on the beach" drugs, gambling and prostitution or sex trafficking if you're rich and discreet enough, just like Vegas did for years.

And they'll still use that to control tourists as needed. Just enough to keep them coming and just enough to keep the broke or bothersome ones away.

Worse, they'll really use it to control all of the cheap construction and service industry labor they've been freely importing from all over Asia. If you look towards the water, just across the freeway is a whole shanty town in a field right next to the tallest building in the world, and they're dotted all over the city.

And stuff like the Palms or World islands are totally insane, but they're basically rolling the dice that they'll become the spot for the rich and famous before they run out of oil and oil money. And they just might do it, because imagine a city-state dedicated to pleasure/luxury as run by technocractic dystopian theocracy.

It's already been a troubling venture with regards to human rights and employment, and it has the potential to become like something out of a Margaret Atwood novel.

They've built a bunch of world class marinas. They've built stuff like an F1 course, and they're hosting F1 races either already or soon. They're a hop and a skip from the Mediterranean.

It's all just so tasteless and extreme it just might work.
posted by loquacious at 7:35 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, wow, what a weird video. It's like a really sentimental commercial for being born insanely, unbelievably wealthy.

Weirdly, I expected more opulence and more ostentatious wealth on display. Most of Hamdan's activities in that video are within reach of normal people: skydiving, actual diving, dune buggies. I expected him to be staging fights between gold-armored tigers and peasants or something.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:39 PM on January 30, 2013


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