Jun 09 2009

Lusailin’ …it takes me away to where I’m going

by at 1:31 pm under Uncategorized

Christopher Cross believed in the organic creation of smooth music when he wrote the 1980 hit, “Sailing.” He knew that his music was a product of where he had been and everything he was. It wasn’t just the mass exporting of his killer good looks or really smooth guitar riffs. He took the fruitful region that was his life, found his chief product of music, and exported it to the world. This is probably was inspired Jane Jacobs to reflect on cities and publish her book in 1984.  She knew that cities were full of complication and needed a natural flow and order to their growth and sustainability.

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Jane probably cringed at the synthesized and raucous sounds of most of the music in those years. It was interesting, but unnatural and didn’t flow from the heart. Not like Christopher Cross.  She would probably cringe at a lot of the music out there today. And she would definitely cringe at the idea’s of Qatar’s cities.  Take the developing city of Lusail for example.

“The city of Lusail is a meticulously planned urban development, unlike anything witnessed before. Within just a few short years, a dramatic new vision of the future will rise up from the desert sands. Lusail will be the ultimate in living experience for around 200,000 people.” lusail.com

Being as smooth and laid back as he is, especially after sailing the whole way Qatar, Christopher Cross might say, “Wait a minute, this Lusail place might work out okay. They’ve got about a million sailboats here after all.” Jane would have to explain it to the old skipper. Sure, the city was necessary to meet the huge demands for workers in the booming oil business. In fact, the city might thrive and diversify at some level if the oil business carried on for decades to come. But the world is unpredictable, and Lusail would not be prepared if the oil market shrank significantly.

For most cities in Qatar, there is no real economic diversity — oil is across-the-board dominant.  If oil revenue would get cut back, the whole system could grind to a halt. The cities could never have existed in a desert without the huge cash influx of oil revenue.  In fact, the situation is so hyperbolized that Jacobs’ framework hardly even applies here. Every city in Qatar would have to start from scratch if they wanted to be safe from failing at the most intense level.

But what about a level down from there – sustainability of the city while oil was still in demand? This concept might intrigue Jacobs. How could a city that imports EVERYTHING be such a nice place to live? For that, she’d have to hop on a schooner with Christopher and take a cruise around the harbor and adjacent fishing villages. What better way to get to know the people and the complexity of their city?

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