It looks like yet another world record may be broken soon with the world’s longest billboard along the side of the Sheikh Zayed Road, just after Jebel Ali Port in Dubai. My car’s odometer tells me it’s about 3 km long.
As well as providing even more advertising revenue opportunities, this hoarding is partitioning off yet another huge tract of Virgin desert that will shortly be falling victim to the relentless development around which Dubai’s business plan revolves.
While taking this shot I noticed an extraordinary level of biodiversity in the roadside flora, helped by the wet winter and the extra water received from road run-off, and made possible by years of fenced off protection from camel and livestock grazing. A short survey revealed at least 30 different plant species along the billboard.
Every time I see another area of desert swallowed up I find myself reminded of the millions of years of biotic and abiotic evolution and the physical, chemical and geological factors that have brought that environment and ecosystem to it’s current unique point. And then I think of how remarkably quickly we can wipe it all away.
As Joni Mitchell sang in 1970, ‘We paved paradise and put up a parking lot’.
Although not yet showing on Google Earth (their image is not recent enough) The billboard is here: 24°55’26.00″N 55° 0’7.79″E
Note from the editor: this photograph is part of a series called “Consumption” that seeks to document consumerism’s impact on the environment. From resource extraction and commodity production all the way down the supply chain to retail stores and waste processing facilities, Richard artfully examines what nature has come to mean in a world that depends on buying stuff.