United Arab Emirates
Dubai revives plans for opera house and museum
The property developer Emaar proposes the emirate’s first major construction following a string of projects that failed because of the economic downturn
By Helen Stoilas. Web only
Published online: 22 March 2012
Dubai is reviving plans to build an opera house and modern art museum, its first major building project since the economic downturn. In 2007-08, the architect Zaha Hadid designed an opera house for Dubai as part of a series of proposals for cultural district that included libraries, theatres and museums, but the ideas were all scrapped when the emirate was hit by the global recession. Dubai borrowed heavily during the boom years and its debt is estimated to be more than that $100bn.
The new plans were announced on Wednesday by Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. The “Dubai Modern Art Museum & Opera House District”, as the project is called, “aims to further strengthen UAE’s emerging role as the cultural hub of the region”, according to a release. The property development firm Emaar Properties is the funding the construction project, located near the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and work on the site is expected to start soon.
Michael Schindhelm, the German writer and former director general, recently published a book about his experiences trying to set up a cultural centre in Dubai between 2007 and 2009. Dubai High: a Culture Trip offers a frank, funny view behind the scenes of the failed projects and the government’s attempts at cultural expansion.
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