African integration, early adapters

…Saintpaulia ionantha…

I wonder how many people during the past century have been inviting these Africans into their homes and caring for them.

African violets: Saintpaulia ionantha. Seem right at home in either the kitchen or the living room. 🙂

Dubai Landscape: the humans

…quarry for Gulf construction…

The Hajar mountains run along the Emirati and Omani border. Directly on the coast of the Gulf of Oman, they actually collect reasonable monsoon rain remnants about 1,000km south at Salalah, just before the Yemeni border. But here in this photo, the rainfall is rare. These mountains are quarry resources for the entire Gulf region.

…having fun yet?…

The Desert Zone bumps against the Mountain Zone. In the Desert Zone, only the presence of water supports humans. Even with water, humans struggle in the Empty Quarter.

…take the airs…

Avicenna marina, al qurm in Arabic. Salt water plants. Mangroves, lots of them in the region; except in Dubai where they are found only in the Ras al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary–in the heart of Dubai Municipality. Mangroves enabled coastal life and architecture (branches for lintels and beams), fodder (leaves), cooking (charcoal). Besides date palms, they had no other woody plants.

…safe at last…or…

Dubai urbanification–this is the Coastal Zone. In fact, it is the heart of a growing 200km long megalopolis connecting Ras al Kaimah in the north to Abu Dhabi in the south. And it was once…Empty Quarter.

Dubai Pent Up Demand

…same for centuries…

Dubai–pent up coast demand. Everybody lives in AC apartments; but humans flood the coast, climate permitting, weather permitting.

…water, shade, green…

Dubai–pent up park demand. Weather permitting, climate permitting–a green park on the coast.

Remember the landscape context–this is the Empty Quarter–coastal edge, coastal zone.

Blue or green is rare and highly sought after, difficult to access. The coast line of the Gulf. City parks. The above two images are what I think the planners call ‘pent up demand’. But you’ve got to drive to get to these nodes. Tell me these green and blue major recreation nodes should not be 10 minutes or less walking from every front door.

…looks nice but something missing…

Where’s the coast? Where’s the park? How do I get there?

Dense apartment life everywhere–that is Dubai.

So I said what might that locally accessible (ten minute walk max) neighbourhood park look like?

…Dubai dream…

Dubai Blue::Dubai Green
Dubai Dream–should be a major node, a landmark–something to organise the neighbourhood around–next to the local mosque.


Need green? It’s the plants! You need the plants.


Dubai Transect Landscape

…empty quarter zones Dubai…

Dubai Municipality sits in the Coastal Zone. Al Ain is an oasis in the Desert Zone. The oasis is supplied by rare monsoon remnants, from the Gulf of Oman, captured by the Hajar Mountains in the Mountain Zone.

I wanted to understand a little more about the larger landscape into which the Dubai Municipality sits. Dubai Municipality is just a narrow, but intensely built, strip along the edge of the Gulf. From the above satellite image–it is hardly visible.

The landscape transect distance from Dubai, at the Gulf coastal edge, above on the left, across to the right to the Gulf of Oman is 100km.

Many times, I drove that transect through the Dubai Emirate on a main road, identifying essentially three distinct landscape eco-zones:

A Dutch doctor, a General Practitioner, Marijcke Jongbloed, lived in the United Arab Emirates for twenty years. She surveyed, 1983-2003, the landscape of the UAE. She compiled her findings in a book entitled, The Comprehensive Guide to the Wild Flowers of the United Arab Emirates. She photographed each plant in its natural habitat, annotated a location map and commented on how the plant was used by humans (ethnobotany). Best reference I found for plants in the UAE.

…sand or sun…but no water…

Aladdin? A lamp? No, it’s the Empty Quarter and it’s full of sand and genies…No!! It’s full of djinnis and gnomes and surfs and a whole lot of people…but the humans only live along the edges, right? No, no, no…it is nothing…nothing but a mirage.


Mirage…dream, dream, dream…when I want you in my arms, when I want you and all your charms…whenever I want you, all I have to do is dream…the Empty Quarter…dream.


(dream, courtesy of The Everly Brothers)

Family Vacations, Dubai Style



In my 2006-2010 search for the Dubai landscape, I found Dubai was two entities. An Emirate, one of the seven that comprise the United Arab Emirates. And a Municipality, in the centre of a burgeoning 230km coastal megalopolis stretching from Ras al Khaymah in the north east all the way south west to Abu Dhabi.

The rulers of Dubai, the Emirate and the Municipality, are the family of Shaik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. Shaikh Mohammed, born in 1949, is the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Emir of Dubai.

He has built Dubai and its hospitality offerings as a place for family vacations.

That’s the official story but even in the ‘winter’, I found the weather too hot to be in the sun very long, before seeking AC. And in the summer, sometimes only after midnight it might be ok for casual walks of more than 15 minutes, before seeking AC.

I was in a conundrum. Maybe it was my cultural upbringing, but I thought that family vacations were outdoor experiences. Yet in the Dubai landscape, I found its climatic extremes always pushed me back indoors. Aha! The aha moment–AC shopping–indoors–spectacular architecture and attractions–yes indoor shopping as a family vacation. Hmm.

Family vacation with outdoor landscape as a condiment. Just use it a little. Hmm…

World Hemisphere

…your world?

Dubai sits in the centre of this world.

I visited Dubai in the early 90s for business. Then in 2006, I moved to Dubai for business–four years living and doing business in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the Liwa Oasis.

My landscape challenge was a simple question: what is the Dubai landscape? Never found the answer. But in 2007 I put together a short series of seven figures that addressed some important landscape issues in the region.

This one addresses the population dynamic of the humans in a hemisphere that is measured by a six hour or less jet flight from Dubai. This is a Dubai-centric world hemisphere.

Prim Roses: the revolution

…see to believe…

Primula urbanica

Fighting to re-occupy what we humans call the city, the 21st century warriors, Primula urbanica, escaped captivity and weaponised to take the battle to the humans.

Don’t we all dream of this day of reckoning?!

…the fight is on…

They’re over the barriers already!!!

Look!!! They’re pouring over the barriers!! Victory is in our grasp!

…rest and relaxation…

Primula vulgaris

The Prim Roses back at camp, some resting from combat, others in training. For decades they suffered indignities. Humans spat foul names at them. Vulgaris they endured.

Until they discovered the portal to the inner secrets of the Berner Oberland. Behind the scenes, evolution became weaponised and the revolution began. In the dark corners of unknown-to-tourists stubbes can be heard the whispered discussions of Prim Roses: Flowers at every doorstep–no more easy access to cars!

…the wilding…

Primula vera

Just past the edge of town, along the creeks, the Wildings keep a cool eye on operations, the battles in town. Sweet revenge. Order returns.