Sunday, February 14, 2010

reaching for the sky

Burj Khalifa

My friends, I give you the world's tallest man-made structure: Burj Khalifa.
At 828 metres— that's 2,717 feet— the Burj is so tall that my little camera could not fit the entire thing in it, no matter what angle I shot from. I tried up close, I tried a little farther away, but this is the very best I could do. It was entertaining to watch all the tourists and locals crouching down and bending backward, trying to fit the tower in their own cameras.

The Burj is actually quite stunning. It reminds me of some sort of beautiful mythical tower in a science fiction movie, stabbing the sky and gleaming in the sunlight. It was originally named Burj Dubai, but when Dubai found itself stuck in the middle of an economic crisis, neighbouring Abu Dhabi bailed out the emirate and renamed the tower Burj Khalifa, after Sheikh Khalifa, President of the United Arab Emirates and emir of Abu Dhabi.

Most of the region's workforce is made up of migrant workers from South Asia— this is apparent everywhere you turn your head in Dubai. Your cabdrivers, cashiers, waiters and waitresses, hotel concierges and construction workers are all from somewhere else— people who needed to leave home in order to provide. According to Wiki, there are some labour-related controversies that surround the Burj, namely that labourers and skilled workers were making less than eight dollars a day back in 2006, and working and living in "abysmal" conditions.

Looking at the exquisite, shining structure, I can't help but wonder about all the people who lent their hands, backs and sweat in making this building rise to such a height, and I remember a drive down California's coast a few years ago, where in the blistering sun, under faded straw hats, I saw a small army of Mexicans bent over in the fields, picking tiny red chilies for American mouths.

Burj Khalifa
This world is often an incomprehensible place, and I am thankful for what I have.

No comments: