Working with authenticity at STAGIS and with a fascination of the citystate Dubai, I would like to share my perspective of these two interests in a combination. For me it is natural to talk about Dubai and authenticity in the same time and it seems that authenticity is to many an obvious perspective on Dubai because of its unique city-identity.
When talking about Dubai and studying the metropolis you cannot avoid the accusations about Dubai as being fake and not authentic. One of my interests lie in why these accusations exist. What is it about Dubai, that affects that the city cannot be justified as “a real city”? What makes a real city? The reasons named is primarily the lack of history because the city-state is only 15 years old or so. The “making” of Dubai is moving that fast and without (until now) focus on the people of the city but more on the visuel elements like flashing architecture and sites in general. Dubai is moreover seen as a company because of its rulingform and that is why they call it Dubai Inc. It is as if the city cannot develop itself (not generic) because the amount of control is that big. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the all above CEO of the city and the democracy is absent. That’s why many people think, Dubai do not have the cityness, which also can be reasoned in the lack of a city centre in Dubai (the life lived out), that is mandatory for a city.
I haven’t yet comed to any final answers because I find it interesting to question the accusations. The authenticity lies in the city’s identity and the city’s identity is, as I see, dynamic, fleeting and with a history that is only few years old. The development of Dubai from desert to metropolis is its identity and therefore authentic, one could say. Yeah, Dubai is different from other cities but that does not make the city-state un-authentic. Maybe we should only change out picture about what makes a city. Dubai is unique and therefore attracts so much attention. The question hereafter is then, whether you find Dubai appealing or not? Do you find Dubai authentic?