[This article was written with Rory Hyde.]
Abu Dhabi and Dubai, two Emirati cities separated by only 120 km of highway, seem to be simultaneously competing and yet prepared to help each other out.
Our piece here last week focused on the complications and implications of a Qatar bid for the 2022 World Cup. To advance its chances, we briefly stepped beyond reality to advocate a united bid with other Gulf nations. This week, we present another vision of a united future, of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, this time as a guest post from an important voice from Dubai.
Mishaal Al Gergawi has been a columnist for two major UAE newspapers and is considered one of the leaders of a younger generation of Emiratis who have something to say about their cities. His piece for Al Manakh 2: Gulf Continued titled 'Abu Dubai' is positioned in 2040, a time when gradually expanding development has forced these two cities to confront and redefine their identities.
Mishaal does not dispense with reality, but merely advances its evolution in a manner that builds firmly upon the present. Much remains the same: the ruling families are still in place albeit with new sons at the helm; the familiar companies of today have grown or morphed, merely taking on new acronyms; and the traffic continues to be terrible, leading to a new craze for Chinese-made bicycles.
And much has changed: a railway network stretches across the region and connects to the rest of the world, providing a physical connection to this now dispersed region; the grand architectural statements of Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island are complete, and deemed to be a success, but largely thanks to a vibrant homegrown art scene in Dubai.
Most importantly, this piece conveys a measured yet optimistic vision of two cities combined that, instead of vying to outdo each other, can become 'a phenomenon that recharged both its halves.'