Dubai: Sci-fi city

Andy Sherwood gets carried away with the idea he's living in the future

Last word, The Knowledge

Andy Sherwood can’t help but feel like he’s starring in a sci-fi movie living in Dubai.

In the past few weeks in the news, there’s been reports that the city is going to get its own system of canals built around Sheikh Zayed Road, plus plans are afoot to build snow-lined streets on Dubai’s World Island.
Even Vox cinemas now offers 4D movies in Dubai, with smells, noises and chairs which nudge you in the back during a film’s fight scenes.

All of this follows the successful bid to host Expo 2020. Already we’re hearing that the Expo village will, apparently, feature a solar-powered canvas canopy offering visitors shade during the day, while a photovoltaic panel-lined roof will create light at night for spectacular digital shows, plus there’ll be a revolving theatre.

All of this got me thinking: is there a more sci-fi city than Dubai? Is there a more fast-paced place to live than our emirate? But most importantly, if we’re going to have snowy streets in the dessert and laser shows come 2020, what else should we be demanding?

Driving through Dubai at night always reminds me of the classic Harrison Ford 1982 sci-fi movie Blade Runner. So to go along with all of the above, can I please request we get that film’s flying cars by 2020? For one thing, it might help with the traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road, although we might need some new rules for using indicators. After all, alerting fellow drivers you’re changing lane is something most people find impossible to do here already; who knows what chaos adding up and down to proceedings might bring. I’ll pass on the flick’s robotic snakes and ‘replicants’ that kill humans, though.

My next request is for hoverboards. October 21 2015 is an important date for all Back To The Future II fans. It’s the day when Marty McFly, played by Michael J Fox, arrives in the future with Doctor Emmett Brown. Yes, there’s cars fuelled by food in that movie (although petrol’s cheap in the UAE, so let’s not waste our time on that one) and Jaws 19 is showing at cinemas, but it was hoverboards that really captured a generation’s imagination. Imagine hurtling around JBR on one of those.

If you’re a fan of Almost Human, a sci-fi cop series set in the near future starring Star Trek’s Karl Urban (and currently showing on OSN), you’ll be familiar with its robot coppers, able to work 24 hours a day. I’m sure a few of those would come in handy around Dubai, especially for newborn parents doing the nightshift with a screaming, hungry baby. The city’s takeaways would have a whole army of new drivers at its disposal as well.

Almost Human also features phones built directly into people’s hands. They look cool, but considering how many drivers here think it’s fine to cruise along while talking on their handsets, I see a few problems with that one.

But as I said at the start of this piece, living in such a unique place as Dubai means I feel like I’m living in the future already, and should be careful what I wish for. After all, is there any guarantee that Jaws 19 would be as good as Jaws 18 anyway?

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