Architecture around the world, during the beginning of the 21st century, has been drastically modernizing with the evolution of technologies. A country like the United Arab Emirates has witnessed an advanced development in the financial, industrial, and economical aspects throughout the years. After the discovery of oil fields, and is dependent on a non-renewable source of energy was a risk that even the UAE’s sheik acknowledged. Urbanizing the country makes it a valuable source of maximizing the economical possibility of its land. “Build and they will come” (Morton, 2016), Sheikh Maktoum’s words show the importance and value of the land, its architecture, and hence its impact on the country’s economy. Architecture in the UAE is not only a piece of art serving aesthetic purposes but also a tool of economic development in the region.
Skyscrapers and hi-tech buildings are set models of modernization and growth, replacing the existing vernacular architecture, transforming the Arab-traditional regime, raising the ultimate question of the UAE’s architecture displacement of identity, whilst making globalization easier. The urbanization and rapid development grow the essence of pride to the Emiratis, as the economic reforms are built on their land. Some of the aspects are discussed below.
For many years ago, the picturesque historic architecture has always been a substantial source of income from tourism, which improves the economy. However, today, the UAE, a country with a rich culture and an important trading location, adaptation such as redevelopment and modernization could draw tourists to visit the UAE. Being the country of the tallest man-made structure in the world to this day: Burj Khalifa (828m), created a new destination for tourists to visit the UAE. Being characterized and identifiable with the tallest skyscraper in the world, makes it an attraction must visit the place, introducing the rest of the culture and history of the region for a memorable visit.
Although the UAE faced an economic crisis after the completion of Burj Khalifa, as most of the resources were depleted, from material to labor. The architecture of Burj Khalifa faced an economical dent after completion, however, the revenue obtained from tourism in the country increases by the day; from the Formula 1 track to Yas Island and more, all of which are tourist attractions in the UAE. All of these spaces with Burj Khalifa inclusive, form a recognition of its own making it a place to visit from all around the globe. Capitalizing from the architecture, the tourism industry increases its profits, hence economic growth.
2. Branding and characterization
The unique character of the UAE gives the country a new definition, as its architecture acts as a marketing tool that creates an economical competitive advantage. Being recognized as the country with the tallest skyscraper in the world, the financial hub and known for its alluring skyline. The UAE was successful in creating a recognizable space making an architectural identity out of itself. Although globalization has a huge impact in such characterization, making the UAE the country that it is today, as it encourages redevelopment and modernization without a complete sense of displacement, whilst forming a new concept of space. The shift from vernacular architecture to modern showcases the image of the UAE being modern and wealthy, whilst the vernacular symbolizes the ancient and poor.
The urbanization and development of the UAE makes it a capitalist country, using its architecture to advertise and convince the consumers with the luxury, transforming the wants as needs. Staying in the tallest skyscraper in the world, or the utopian man-made city of Masdar. The architecture in the UAE evolves to become hi-tech and sustainable supporting the modern lifestyle, many thrive to become part of. Adapting with the lifestyle, the architecture of the UAE, including both the Arab-Islamic and the modern leaving an existing brand of itself, hence an economic boom.