Middle East’s first rainforest coming to Dubai

dubai rainforestDubai developers reach a new zenith in outrageous investment with just-announced plans to build a tropical rainforest on the desert outskirts of the city.  The forest will exist within a climate-controlled dome as a key feature of a new luxury housing development. But the real news within this news is that local environmentalists are complaining, finally.

­The Dubai Rainforest will sit within Damac Properties’ Akoya Oxygen master community. It aspires to replicate a natural rainforest environment fully enclosed inside a massive dome to withstand the surrounding desert climate.

“Dubai is known around the world for attracting the biggest and best and the Dubai Rainforest joins that list of unique attractions which will support the growth of the city,” said Ziad El Chaar, managing director of Damac Properties.

Visitors to the site will begin their tour by exploring ground level gardens, then climb progressively higher into the treetop canopy, all the while learning about the habitat’s flora and fauna. Billed as an educational and cultural experience, the forest will feature zip lines and walkways through the canopy, a climbing wall and a spa which will offer hydro-thermal treatments among rock pools and steam baths. The facility will be near to Donald Trump’s golf course, rounding out the ridiculousness of the eco-scheme.

“To create an artificial forest in such harsh conditions, they are challenging nature,” Dr. Ali El-Keblawy, associate professor at the University of Sharjah and director of the Sharjah Seed Bank and Herbarium, told the National. He added that the project’s expected high water footprint is unsustainable in a desert climate.

Unlike desert shrubs and trees, which use various strategies to survive on small amounts of water, plants that thrive in rainforests need high amounts of moisture. El-Kablawy pointed out that containing the artificial rainforest within a sealed dome and creating a closed system will help reduce water loss through evaporation.

The rainforest will open ahead of World Expo, which Dubai will host in 2020 and has pledged will be a “monument to the green economy”. Meanwhile, Dubai developers have ­announced plans to build the world’s tallest twin towers and the largest shopping mall (besting a title The Dubai Mall ­already holds). Exact replicas of the Eiffel Tower and Taj Mahal are in planning, and the world’s biggest Ferris wheel is already under ­construction.

Local environmentalists are finally speaking out, saying that projects like the rainforest will hinder government efforts to control the city-state’s rapidly increasing water and energy ­consumption. The United Arab Emirates has the highest level of water consumption per capita on earth.

“There should be a critical study before they start,” said Dr El-Keblawy. “They should assess the impact of this on the environment.”  Does this mean they haven’t?




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