Kansas Farm Bureau Insight: The City of Dreams

Jackie Mundt

Pratt County Farmer and Rancher

I recently traveled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with the Kansas Ag and Rural Leaders (KARL) program. Our trip included visits to unique farms like a camel dairy, a falcon hospital, and the oldest irrigation district in the world. We learned about local traditions and culture by visiting museums, a desert oasis, a camel racing training center, a cattle market, a palace and the grand mosque. However, the real reason people visit the UAE is to see Dubai.

Dubai’s rulers seem to have adhered to the “if you build it, they will come” ideal popularized in “Field of Dreams”. Their vision for Dubai has been to replace oil revenues that will eventually dwindle with money from the tourism, business and financial sectors. They are creating a business center for the Middle East and the world; a “city of dreams”.

Dubai had been described by many past travelers as the Las Vegas of the Middle East. I expected the Burj Khalifa (currently the tallest building in the world) and the Palm (a man-made island resort) to have a row of skyscrapers connecting the two areas and the city to look like Chicago or Los Angeles .

My mind was unprepared for what the city actually looks like. Everything is new and really big; high-rise buildings as far as the eye can see. When you come out of a group of them, you can see another group of 10-20 a few miles away in any direction except downtown, which is more like 100-200 high-rise buildings . The city is full of new metro lines, shopping malls, tourist attractions and residential communities. Dubai is a modern city with stunning architecture and the latest technology.

Our guide joked that the favorite word of the Emiratis is “is”. They have the tallest building, the tallest mall, the deepest swimming pool, the tallest dancing fountain, the tallest Ferris wheel. The list goes on and makes me think that the Guinness Book of World Records probably has an office there just for convenience.

The most impressive part is that almost nothing existed 20 years ago. Many attractions did not exist 10 years ago as many projects were accelerated to prepare for the World Expo, which was originally scheduled for 2020 and delayed by a year due to COVID.

The six-month Expo ended on March 31 and was expected to bring 25 million visitors to see the 192 national pavilions focusing on the themes of sustainability, mobility and opportunity. If you imagine the State Fair, this exhibit was about 20 times larger without the animals, and even though we visited it at the end of the sixth month, the place was cool; bathrooms were clean, lodges and fixtures were in good working order, and there was no visible sign of staff storage. The same sense of quality and pride could be felt in all the attractions we saw.

Dubai is a dream city. It is the manifestation of the leader’s vision and ability to motivate others to join in creating something great, something that people around the world will talk about and want to see for themselves.

People ignore their field of dreams because it seems too big. Dreams don’t happen overnight. Small steps, like having a clear vision or creating things to be proud of, are what build the momentum needed to drive big dreams forward.

The tallest building in the most extravagant city in the world was what a man saw when he looked across the barren desert. Imagine what you can do with the world around you.

“Insight” is a weekly column published by the Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest agricultural organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.

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