Dubai: Airconning (or Maybe Just Conning) the Environment


The beautiful people – those fabulously wealthy jet-set elite – have often been accused of acting as if they’re on another planet. That’s nothing new. But here’s an example that defies belief.

In Dubai, it can get very hot. At the height of summer the sea itself warms up to around 37°C / 98 F – so you can be sure that the beach becomes screamingly uncomfortable to walk on. This is bad news for beach-front hoteliers…but let’s not forget that this is ultra-wealthy Dubai, a place where a common response to a problem is to throw money at it until it goes away. Instead of issuing beach shoes along with guidelines about how it’s healthy to limit your tan by keeping out of the midday sun, how about changing the beach?

That’s Versace’s solution to the problem. The strip of beach outside their new Palazzo Versace hotel in Dubai will be refrigerated, via a network of coolant-carrying pipes under the sand and chilled air wafted over it by huge blowers. As Jonathan Leake notes in the Sunday Times, this is the place you’d expect such things to happen: around 60% of Dubai’s enormous power expenditure is on air conditioning.

Further details are emerging of an accompanying 820 square meter refrigerated swimming pool – and plans for another 15 similarly luxurious hotels dotted around the world. Meanwhile, new construction projects shamelessly boast in their brochures of following “environmental best practice” standards. Dubai seems to be setting itself up as the ultimate fantasy destination where normal rules don’t apply – and the rest of the world pays.

Image: novocortex

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.