Dubai/ Invisible Housing Typology: The Barracks Awaken

Dubai/ Invisible Housing Typology: The Barracks Awaken
Barracks Housing © 2008 by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad
Dubai Map © 1986 by U.S. Dept. of State
Dubai Map © 1986 by U.S. Dept. of State

This post will elaborate on the different housing typology in Dubai. First we can look at the master plan in 2005 and the mapping of the housing typologies in different area.

2005 Dubai Master Plan © 2005 Government of Dubai
2005 Dubai Master Plan © 2005 by Government of Dubai

 

Dubai Housing Typology Mapping © 2015 by me
Dubai Housing Typology Mapping © 2015 by me

Next to the famous Palm Jumeirah Shoreline Residences, the official website outlined “developed as an answer to America’s famous Beverley Hills, Dubai’s Emirates Hills does it better. This ultra exclusive, ultra private neighbourhood boasts huge mansion-like villas, each unique in layout and design. Enveloped in lush, tasteful landscaping, many properties enjoy views over the famous 18-hole Montgomerie Championship Golf Course as well as wide, sparkling lakes. There is no doubt that to buy a luxury property here is to buy a genuine piece of the Dubai dream.” The Emirates Hills is the most luxurious type of housing in Dubai. Similar to the Palm Islands, which are two artificial islands on the coast of Dubai. This island takes the form of a palm tree, topped by a crescent. The island is a host to a large number of residential, leisure and entertainment centres and will add a total of 520 kilometres of non-public beaches to the city of Dubai. These island remains quite empty but it has the capacity of accommodating 120,000 residents. Among the 1,645 wealthiest people on the Earth, 29 have ties to the island. A Villa in these archipelago could cost $13M.

Palm Island © 2014 by David Rogers
Palm Island © 2014 by David Rogers

According to the Master Plan, there are a second-tier type of housing, Downtown Dubai housing. It covers an area of 2 square kilometres at an estimated cost of US$20 Billion upon completion. It contains various landmark such as Burj Khalifa, Dubai Fountain, Dubai Mall. A 860 sq. feet apartment in Downtown Dubai for Middle Class people who generally are business men or western immigrants stationed here for the company’s headquarters costs at least $700,000. In the below graph, we can see that there was a boom in the price of the most luxurious type of housing (the villa) in 2007. The comparison of these housing give a brief idea of the increasing property prices and the general classification of the housing typology in Dubai.

Dubai Property Prices© 2013 by Jones Lang La Salle
Dubai Property Prices© 2013 by Jones Lang La Salle

Yet it is obvious that the barracks type of housing for the low-income people or the migrant workers is missing in all these statistics and master plan.

 

Barracks Housing© 2008 by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad
Barracks Housing© 2008 by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad
Barracks Housing© 2008 by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad
Barracks Housing© 2008 by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

These men are part of a huge scam that is fuelling the construction boom in the Gulf, visitors to the city are largely oblivious to the presence of the exploited workers, who build the hotels and shopping centres. Located outside the city, the camps are hidden from tourists. But on the outskirts of Dubai, turn right before the Zaha Hadid bridge and you are in the ghetto-like Mousafah where the workers dwell. They dine on a floor lined with newspapers advertising the luxury watches, mobile phones and high-rise towers of Dubai. Many of the men have had their passports taken away by the employment agencies they paid to come here and do not know when they will be able to go home. In certain areas up to 20 men share a room. UN agencies estimate that there are up to 300,000 illegal workers in the Emirates.

Barracks Housing © 2008 by Farhad Berahmann
Barracks Housing © 2008 by Farhad Berahmann

These documents were recorded by Farhad Berahman and Ghaith Abdul-Ahad. Photographer Farhad Berahman’s striking photos document the lives of South Asian labourers who travel to Dubai. Another journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad visited the labour camps they inhabit to capture their lives.

 

Works Cited

Ramos, Stephen J. The Blueprint: A History of Dubai’s Spatial Development Through Oil Discovery. Working Paper, Cambridge: Harvard University, 2009.

Kanna, Ahmed. Dubai, the City as Corporation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011.

Reisz, Todd. “Future Flyovers: Dubai in 1971.” Architectural Design, 2015: 100-105.

Ramos, Stephen J. The Blueprint: A History of Dubai’s Spatial Development Through Oil Discovery. Working Paper, Cambridge: Harvard University, 2009.

Jones, Jeremy. Nrgotiating Change: The New Politics of the Middle East. London: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2007.

Zuhairy, Hasan. City Growth and Development Chronicle: Dubai. Working Paper, Pennsylvania : University of Pennsylvania , 2012.

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