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Holy Shit. Holy Fucking Shit.
August 1, 2008 2:46 PM   Subscribe

An article deep in this week's "Economist" comments on an intriguing, rather megalomaniac project: twin "Cities of Light" at both sides of the Bab al-Mandib strait, the entrance to the Red Sea, linked by a bridge.

The Noor City Development Corporation remains remarkably vague about the practical aspects of the project, never mind its much-vaunted greenery.

The Economist notes with some trepidation the connections of the consortium with the US military and defence industry. All the more significant considering that the project is led by Middle East Development, a real-estate company headed by Dr. Tareq Mohammad Bin Laden, half-brother of You-Know-Who

Reports of the involvement of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Auric Goldfinger, and Drs. No, Doom and Evil remain however unconfirmed.
posted by Skeptic (29 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, for heaven's sake. What is it with this city-building craze in the Middle East?
posted by WPW at 3:03 PM on August 1, 2008


They know the oil is running out. When that is gone they want to be sheiks of tourism.
posted by HyperBlue at 3:11 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ruins are often popular tourist attractions.
posted by WPW at 3:21 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I met a traveller from an antique land...
posted by matthewr at 3:37 PM on August 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


gaze on my works o ye mighty and despair
posted by Sam.Burdick at 3:40 PM on August 1, 2008


damn you matthewr!!!
posted by Sam.Burdick at 3:40 PM on August 1, 2008


Yemen and Djibouti don't really have economies. Yemen has some oil, sure, but it also had a civil war in 1994.

What they do have is land and internationally recognized sovereignty. So, this is how they're going to try to make some long-term scratch. It could be worse.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:50 PM on August 1, 2008


The Economist notes with some trepidation the connections of the consortium with the US military and defence industry.

Trepidation? The Economist encouraged and then cheered the invasion and occupation of Iraq as if it were the greatest IPO of the century. Connections to the US military and defence industry (and their surrogates on Wall Street) should make the editors of that tabloid absolutely thrilled about the project.

Once a faithful reader, I am no longer interested to read anything those greedy, selfish, misguided children have to say.
posted by three blind mice at 3:51 PM on August 1, 2008


Well, compared to what the U.S. has poured into Iraq, this is peanuts. And it's infrastructure.
posted by tinkertown at 3:51 PM on August 1, 2008


The zombies are going to have a field day tearing this apart. And linking Africa to Asia will only help them to spread.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:17 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was going to second what tinkertown said, but I guess that won't be necessary.
posted by Loudmax at 4:40 PM on August 1, 2008


This video is so great, I don't even know what to do with myself. No one does crazy shit like this anymore. Here in NYC, we get excited when new bike lanes get painted on the street.
posted by the jam at 4:47 PM on August 1, 2008


Dude, that is the worst headline on any MetaFilter post ever, and it is further lamed-up by the credulous fear-mongering. Humorous fear-mongering appears to have been your late-in-the-moment aim. That aim would have been best served by a rewrite.
posted by mwhybark at 5:21 PM on August 1, 2008


That video is pure unintentional dystopia.
posted by stbalbach at 6:16 PM on August 1, 2008


From The Economist: "None of the Noor City delegation noted that blazing hot Djibouti, with 800,000 people, is already acutely short of water and imports nearly all its food, that 150,000 of its people are “facing imminent starvation”, according to the UN’s World Food Programme, and that millions more are famished in next-door Ethiopia."
posted by MrMerlot at 6:17 PM on August 1, 2008


It is fun to say "Djibouti".
posted by Mister_A at 6:46 PM on August 1, 2008


Absolutely insane. If they are going for a cultural victory they've got to switch from theocracy and vassalage to free speech and free religion.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:49 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love the video's vague mention of using the latest breakthroughs in social sciences to build their vaporware city. I envision Al Noor operating on a work-fortnight, where a scientifically balanced regimine of neuromodulators and other mood-altering drugs is added to the city's water to enable a 13 day frenzy of work, followed by one day of hibernation. 25% of the city's population will work to haul the broken bodies of expired workers off to the food vats, where they will make one final heroic contribution to society. An additional 10% will be devoted to transporting the massive influx of poor Ethiopian workers, hoping to strike it rich in Al Noor city. The 0.1% of the population who run the city will be monitored at all times by camera watches that they wear (which explode when removed) and the sole media corporation will broadcast nothing but endless advertisements for Al Noor. My God, I wish I had money to invest. I guess I'll have to settle for buying spatulas at prices that undercut the Chinese.
posted by Humanzee at 6:54 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Absolutely insane. If they are going for a cultural victory they've got to switch from theocracy and vassalage to free speech and free religion.

Huh? When did this rule come into effect? WHY WASN'T I NOTIFIED???

Seriously, the ancient societies they compared their project to were all run by God-Kings, who tend to not be so big on the free religion/free speech thing. The chief deficit I'm seeing is the fact that their society seems to consist of a large swath of land comprising a variety of unstable mutually-hostile nation-states, and a youtube video; whereas the ancient Egyptians not only actually existed, but they had a language, and armies and shit. I like the basic idea though, and have often remarked that instead of locking up 10% of our population, we shoud just build some goddamn pyramids.

The chief cultural deficit of the middle east, as far as I can tell, is that their societies are all set up so that if it ever comes to pass that a populist political group gains power, a bunch of Americans or Europeans storms in and kills the fuck out of them, takes all their stuff, and sets up a dictatorship. If they get their act together on that, who knows, maybe they'll have freedom of speech afterwards.
posted by Humanzee at 7:09 PM on August 1, 2008


I'm rather skeptical. The $70B cost dwarfs by at least an order of magnitude any of the existing major crossings including Oresund and Hangzhou Bay, and those serve thriving economies. On the other hand, maybe there's some sort of offshore tax advantage for Saudi princes.
posted by dhartung at 8:05 PM on August 1, 2008


I like how they think they can build culture. Honestly, I'd take a nice old house in Europe over some shiny metropolis surrounded by sand and civil wars.
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 9:05 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sheer, pure ugliness, like most of the "new" Middle East mega-cities, like the "new" Dubai. Soulless, stupid, selfish, and silly.
posted by MetaMan at 12:43 AM on August 2, 2008


What is it with this city-building craze in the Middle East?

Rich, powerful nations like to build impressive shit. Britain did some magnificent stuff in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and it trailed off a lot as Britain became less relevant as a world power. The United States managed some impressive work for much of the 20th century.

If your neck of the woods isn't doing it much any more and the Arabs and Asians are, well, that probably says a lot about where money and power are.
posted by rodgerd at 12:55 AM on August 2, 2008


mwhybark, if you think this FPP is credulous fear-mongering, just wait until Mr. Moore hears of this. And I mean Michael, not Roger.
posted by Skeptic at 4:21 AM on August 2, 2008


I have looked at this area endlessly. They have beautiful seas, incredible sands, plenty of perpetual sun, to collect mondo solar energy.

Where are they going to keep the goats?
Will the religious police shut down pet ownership?
Will they learn how to have fun?
Will they keep the women in bins, and bring them out for conception and childbirth?
Where will all the cars drive to?
If they are a theocracy why do they need beaches?

I can see vast oil revenues building societies of shoppers, who hide in houses, anxiously watching out for the virtue of their families. Who doesn't want prosperity for their families? who doesn't want a comfortable virtue for their children?

Whatever they want, they deserve. I think they should check out Somalia. That lifestyle is frighteningly close by.

That area in general is intriguing. There are towns named for grapes, Muscat, Shiraz, and at least one other. The history there is so rich. I hope the best for them. Our industrial model is killing the planet, I wish that piece had shown solar houses, gardens, date palms, and pools, and a life befitting the beauty of the area, somehow in synch with the area, rather than the tired old industrial themes, megalopolis, and so forth.

Those towns in the center of Yemen, in the Wadis are incredible. I ran across them looking for the Temple Of the Queen Of Sheba. That whole area used to be matrilineal. Hummm must be some awful downside of that, to bring on the current meme.
posted by Oyéah at 9:14 AM on August 2, 2008


when i play simcity, i usually choose a terrain that's bisected by a waterway, so that i can build a bridge or two across that waterway, even if there's absolutely nothing on the other side, just because i think the bridges are cool.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 12:08 PM on August 2, 2008


Rich, powerful nations like to build impressive shit.

Djibouti and Yemen are not rich, and they are not powerful.
posted by WPW at 12:54 PM on August 2, 2008


Rich, yes. Powerful themselves - no. But they have powerful friends.
posted by AdamCSnider at 2:12 PM on August 2, 2008


Rich? They're both in the bottom quartile.
posted by WPW at 2:28 PM on August 2, 2008


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