It’s not especially fresh news that a business consortium in Dubai has been developing an archipelago of artificial, privately-owned islands shaped like the world to be a playground for the mega-loaded. The project was announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the monarch of Dubai, in 2003, and hit the US press in mid-decade.
It was a project so fantastically cyberpunk as to tweak one’s comprehension of precisely which pill you just scarfed. Half the goggle-wearing sci-fi nerds out there seemed to love this idea for its sheer audacity (the rest, reasonably, thought it was EFFING INSANE). But enough of the richest of the uber-rich went for it like bloggers for the last salmon cake at the catered press conference to keep the thing throbbing along in the Western press for nigh on five years now.
And why not? Hey, when half the world doesn’t have clean drinking water, why NOT spend your disposable income on a project baked crispy with conspicuous consumption? Why not stuff your minimum-wage employees’ great-great-great-great-grandchildren’s college fund into a project guaranteed to sink into the sea while ga-ga-gazillionaire freak jobs hire PR flacks to play “Nearer My God to Thee?”
I mean…what else would you spend it on, ANOTHER gold-plated Jacuzzi?
Hell, Rod Stewart and Richard Branson were supposedly involved, so this Dubai thing must be as awesome as a privatized space-voyage or — uh — a privatized space voyage, right? And it solved the Palestinian problem quite smoothly, too, supposedly by omitting Israel. Wasn’t that easy?
As if the predictable sinking-into-the-ocean wasn’t enough (did nobody involved with this project think to conference-call the Federated States of Micronesia?), in September of last year it was announced that the Irish businessman who bought The World’s “Ireland” had killed himself following financial problems, and that the global credit crunch has put the project on hold, which for construction projects this big and weird almost certainly spells a long-term dirt nap. The project website’s list of available islands hasn’t been updated since June, 2008.
None of this surprises me — or, probably anyone except those involved with the project.
What surprises me is just how creepy this promotional video is. It’s like Epcot Center got hijacked by human organ farmers.
I’m going to shower now. Probably with steel wool.