Name and Shame

If you’re going to give something a name, at least make it a decent one, says Alex Ritman

The Knowledge

It’s clear that a rather colourful imagination played a major role in shaping much of Dubai’s skyline. I implore anyone to suggest that the designers of three palm tree-shaped islands, a floating map of the world, an aquatic-themed Barbie castle hotel and an indoor ski slope in a shopping mall in a desert, didn’t spend their childhoods turning sofa cushions into impregnable forts on the floor of the lounge or covering their bedroom walls in heavily crayoned pictures of flying cars driven by excessively limbed aliens.

I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with this; a wild imagination is fantastic. I’d rather share a deserted tropical island with a mass-murdering bi-polar lunatic than anyone a bit on the dull side (at least you’d have something to talk about, even if it’s just to ask why they’re constantly handing you arsenic-laced coconuts).

But it sadly seems that, while originality led the pack when it came to town planning (especially on the roads), the creative juices had dried up by the time they got to the naming stage. Take Dubai Sports City’s new cricket stadium, or, to give it the official name, Cricket Stadium. Clearly, the developers deem us so dim-witted that without using the words ‘Cricket’ and ‘Stadium’, we’d all think it was the world’s largest doughnut (actually, if anywhere…)?

It gets worse. Last year, Dubai opened the doors to its massive tribute to shopping and called it The Dubai Mall. How chin-strokingly vague. And within this mysteriously entitled venue sits Dubai Ice Rink and Dubai Aquarium. Then there’s Ski Dubai, Dubailand, Dubai Autodrome and Dubai Museum, to name a few. Even Burj Dubai, perhaps this town’s proudest monument to the power of imagination, translates as the dreary Dubai Tower.

But the worst offender of all sits just in front of this ozone-layerpiercing creation. Put to a national naming competition, the awe-oohand- aah-inspiring fountain spraying gallons of water 150 metres into the air could have been called something magical. But no. More than 4,000 entries and we end up with The Dubai Fountain.

What are we to do? Firstly, let’s have a year-long moratorium banning use of the word ‘Dubai’. If tourists get confused or taxi drivers get lost we’ll rethink this after 12 months. Then let’s hand over all naming duties to the under fives. And if this leads to things called ‘strange tower that looks rude but mummy says I can’t say why’, then so be it. Finally, we’ll wait. Surely once Dubai has built every single thing possible, the natural course of action would be to build another one. But, knowing this place, we’d probably just get The Dubai Mall Two. Bah. Forget it, I’m going back to my crayons.

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