It is no easy task to urbanize the desert, but globalization has shown that nothing is impossible. The question is at what cost, although the various regimes of the Gulf do not seem to worry about it. For them, ‘development’ is simply ‘managed’, hidden behind a technocratic and politically correct screen.
This screen rarely has cracks, but when it does, they are revealing, as we can now see in Qatar, the oil emirate whose development was entrusted to National Vision 2030, a large-scale program for the construction of a wide range of buildings that can be attributed to the push of local petrodollars, but is executed with imported labor and ‘administered’ in near-Pharaonic ways. The result can be expressed with a simple figure, 426, the total number of construction pawns, mostly on contract from India and Nepal, who died in Qatar in 2013.
Shocking as it is, Zaha Hadid seems completely unmoved. Commissioned to design the grand Al Wakrah Stadium for the FIFA World Cup of 2022, she claims to have “nothing to do with the workers” and that it is “not my duty as an architect” to address the problem because “I have no power to do anything about it.” This is without a doubt an irreproachably realistic attitude, but nothing more. Meanwhile, the National Vision 2030 program continues to aim to “transform Qatar into an advanced country, sustaining its own development and providing a high standard of living for its people.” Well expressed: its people.