Dubai is already perhaps the most decadently rich-place on earth. With its hand crafted islands shaped like palm trees (and an entire archipelago that creates a map of the world (now sinking), a 7-star hotel with rooms ranging from $11k to $45k per night, and an indoor ski resort that produces snow in a desert of perpetual three-digit temperatures, Dubai flaunts its wealth like a spoiled brat with a new toy he/she won’t share. And now, perhaps just to snub India, they’re planning on building a replica of the Taj Mahal to the tune of $1 billion, expected to be finished in 2014. You might ask, ‘Why?’ Well, it turns out the Dubai architecture kings have a romantic side. The building, which has been dubbed Taj Arabia, is being built with the hopes that will add to the city’s reputation as a wedding destination. In an interview with news.com.au, the developer said, “The Taj is made as a monument of love and we hope to promote this in Dubai as a major wedding destination.” It will not be a Taj made for simply gazing upon its beauty. It will include a five-star, 300-room hotel, as well as apartments, restaurants, shops and offices. As if recreating one of the few manmade UNESCO World Heritage Sites wasn’t enough, Taj Arabia is simply one building in a project dubbed “Dubailand” – what the emirate is hoping will be the “greatest theme park” in the world. Weighing in at 227-square kilometers, Dubailand will be so enormous that it could house every Disneyland and Disney World resort within its boundaries. Separated into sections intended to resemble various images, Taj Arabia will be housed in “Falcon City,” which, from above, will look like a falcon spreading its wings. So start saving your pennies, travelers. It’s gonna take a lot of ‘em. But it’ll be worth it, because India’s real Taj Mahal is now useless, not worthy of a visit, being as it is surrounded by slums and curry joints rather than ships floating in peculiar shaped pools and summersaulting roller coasters and whatever other madness Dubailand may offer. One more destination for the bucket-list-of-never.
By Bryan Schatz