With 60 per cent of the emirate expected to be turned into nature and wildlife reserves, we can’t wait for the future to unfold
“How long do you see yourself living in Dubai?” A question I have been asked countless times since I landed in the city. It is perhaps the most ubiquitous question every expat must be prepared to answer in different scenarios; be it in a job interview, at a fun run on the Sheikh Zayed Road, or while enjoying a cup of karak chai on the streets of Rigga. Through the years, I have coloured my response with a rainbow of feelings. “Ah, I will live in Dubai for as long as that fountain erupts in a soulful dance whenever I need a distraction from an impulsive shopping spree,” I remember saying one time. When I got my first pay raise, I was sure no dream was impossible in Dubai, so why leave? Then I met my one true love in the city, making it too heartbreaking to even think of living away from a treasure trove of firsts and lasts.
There are times, however, when the question will hit you so hard that you run out of romantic, colourful answers. Some days require you to draw up the absolutes. How long do you see yourself living in Dubai? Five more years. Maybe 10. Then you start doing the math, from savings to investments, loans to goals. New adventures and prospects of a brighter future in a land far, far away would beckon, and you do end up wondering, “How long, Dubai? Until when?”
The truth is, no matter how hard I try, I couldn’t really cough up a certain number, year, or even an estimate — until earlier this week, when Dubai unveiled its urban masterplan. The city had me at: Turning 60 per cent of the emirate into nature and wildlife reserves; doubling green spaces; extending beaches by 400 per cent; creating new opportunities for one and all; and redesigning neighbourhoods so that everything you need is just a stone’s throw away. I was sold.
I know I have to be here when Dubai enters 2040. I have to take daily road trips on those highways that cut through fields of lush greenery and lakes. I have to treat my future kids to weekends with the gazelles, which roam freely at a sanctuary within walking distance of our home. I want to get used to the new normal of riding emission-free shuttles and pods. Dubai can easily set a target to become a place with the most advanced technologies, but its masterplan wasn’t about robots and flying cars. It was about people — making people’s lives better. In a world that could get too cluttered with all the data it couldn’t get enough of, Dubai creates a breathing space where people from around the world can live the good life. It feels like the paradise we all need. Next time you get asked until when you’ll be here, look ahead and revisit the 2040 mega plan. And, remember, Dubai keeps its promises; so when it says it will be the best city in the world, it will be.