Dubai’s Climate-Controlled Dome City Is a Dystopia Waiting to Happen

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Dubai’s newly proposed Mall of the World—a 4-mile domed, air-conditioned city—is begging to become the most glorious real-world dystopia yet.

IMAGES: DUBAI HOLDINGS

Dubai is building “the world’s first climate-controlled city”—it’s a 4.3 mile pedestrian mall that will be covered with a retractable dome to provide its shoppers with air conditioning in the summer heat. The Mall of the World, as it’s called, will become the sort of spectacular, over-the-top attraction Dubai is known for. Shortly after, it will probably become an equally spectacular real-world dystopia.

By sectioning off a 3-million-square-foot portion of the city with an air conditioned dome, Dubai is dropping one of the most tangible partitions between the haves and the have nots of the modern era—the 100 hotels and apartment complexes inside the attraction will be cool, comfortable, and nestled into a entertainment-filled, if macabre, consumer paradise.

he masses, including the underpaid immigrants who will no doubt help build it, may be free to wander through by day, but they will surely find no residence there. According to the UN, a full 88.5 percent of United Arab Emirates residentsare foreigners; most are migrant workers, who receive few protections from the nation’s labor laws. There are estimated to be hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Dubai alone, many of whom toil in conditions that resemble indentured servitude.

And as global warming bakes the region—which is already regularly seeing record-breaking temperatures—the divide between the rich and the poor, the cool and the sweltering, is going to grow.

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