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On that "incurably vulgar" Las Vegas of the Middle East
by Andrew Kiraly | posted June 22, 2011
A Slate writer who visits Dubai finds some thoroughly American -- and Las Vegan -- impressions: A manic zeal for reinvention and a cheerful pastiche of various architectural forms and styles. Vulgar, yes, but oddly compelling:
And just as Europeans found it odd to see their own architecture copied and altered in America, I found it odd to find American architecture copied and altered on the Arabian Peninsula. Sometimes there are local elements—the odd Arabian Nights turret, a fake "souk"—but the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, distinctly resembles Chicago's Willis Tower, which also used to be the tallest building in the world. This is no accident: Both buildings were designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, also from Chicago. If the fountains around the Burj Khalifa (illuminated by 6,600 lights at night) seem like something out of Las Vegas, that's no accident, either: They were designed by the same company that built the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel.
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