Wednesday, 29 August 2007

A Sign of Contradiction?

As I sit in my London presbytery, it's hard to believe that this time last week I was in Dubai, the 'Hong Kong of the Middle East'. I spent a pleasant day shopping, visiting the surprisingly interesting Dubai Museum and lunching at the Dubai Creek Golf Club.

Dubai is a town of construction sites, including what will become the world's tallest building, the Burj Dubai, which has currently reached its 146th floor at some 1,759ft:

The final height is being kept a closely guarded secret because of competition from other ambitious projects, including those in nearby Kuwait, Bahrain and (it is widely rumoured) Abu Dhabi. The tower could reach as high as 2,684ft. Wikipedia rather amusingly says:

The silvery glass-sheathed concrete building will restore the title of Earth's tallest structure to the Middle East — a title not held by the region since Lincoln Cathedral upset the four millennial reign of Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza in 1311 AD.

The most famous building in Dubai is the impressive Burj Al-Arab (above), which stands at 1,053ft and houses a super-luxurious 7-star hotel. Such is its iconic status that the tower appeared on Dubai number-plates, until being removed recently. Why? The building is meant to resemble a sail, billowing in the wind. Towards the top, a long horizontal structure (containing a restaurant) intersects the building's 'mast' or 'spine', giving the appearance of a Christian cross. In fact, some call it the largest cross in the Muslim world! You can make it out in the picture heading the post, or in this rather exaggerated one I found on the internet:

Of course, crosses can be found in almost every building if you look hard enough, but the (British) architects were accused by some of placing the symbol there on purpose. As a result, official photos never show the Dubai cross (which can only be seen from the sea) and the offending image was taken off Dubai number-plates. As one friend said to me, half in jest: such a strong reaction to the cross makes you think that there must be something in Christianity!



Blogger A Simple Sinner said...

See similar in East Berlin.

Why DOES that cross sneak up on us everywhere?

9:25 am  

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