If you need another reason to support the Barcelona soccer team, this might help: in order to expand their fan base in the Middle East and Asia, Real Madrid is joining forces with the United Arab Emirates to build a giant soccer resort complete with a stadium, fancy villas, two high rise hotels, and a hi-tech museum. But here’s the most egregious part of the plan: even though a report was released by scientists last year that puts responsibility of coral and biodiversity loss squarely in the lap of unfettered development, Real Madrid intends to build their 430,000 square foot soccer resort on an artificial archipelago in the Arabian/Persian Gulf.
It’s hard to decide what is more disappointing? That Real Madrid has conceived this absurd scheme to build a series of manmade islands that will have a deleterious impact on their sensitive Gulf ecosystem, or that it has government support. Just when we thought that the governments of Abu Dhabi and Dubai were leaving the rest of the region in their green dust, Ras al-Khaimah’s government sanctions a project that sets the entire region behind environmentally (but not financially.)
According to The Guardian, Real’s stadium includes an amusement park and a 10,000 seaside football stadium. The project, which is slated for completion in 2015, will cost $1 billion to build and is expected to draw one million visitors in the first year.
With nearly half of Real’s 300 million fans based in Asia, according to the club’s president Florentino Pérez,”It is a decisive and strategic step that will strengthen our institution in the Middle East and Asia.”
If soccer fans haven’t had enough fun in Qatar after the 2022 World Cup, perhaps they can head over to Real Madrid’s resort in the United Arab Emirates. If they can afford it.
Judging by prices charged at other luxury resorts in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, this one won’t be for the fans who keep soccer alive. And it certainly does nothing to improve an ailing Gulf ecosystem.
More on the Gulf and Artificial Islands: