Wow! This year I have experienced the most amazing things and I think it be a great disservice to any one who has taken out even a few minutes to read any of my blogs not to share them with you, so here goes:I am in Dubai at the moment and yesterday, I visited the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the entire world! For now! Until Dubai out does itself again! Everything about the Burj Khalifa was amazing to me! From the elevator that took us from the 1st floor to the 124th floor in one minute flat! You actually felt like you were in a time capsule as you saw the numbers move from 1 to 5 to 15 to 66 and up and up before you can even start holding your breath!
I don’t want to bore you with the statistics but let me just share a few; first, it’s the tallest building in the entire world- 200 levels! It has the furtherest and fastest single flight elevator (140 floors in 1 and half minutes), the concrete used to build the Burj Khalifa weighs the equivalent of 100,000 elephants, the glass sheets around the building when spread out, make the equivalent of 17 foot ball fields. The condensate from the cooling system at the Burj is collected and every year, it comes to about 15 million litres of water which is used to irrigate the landscape around the building; the steel used to build the Burj Khalifa if laid out from end to end, will go 1/4 way around the world, from New York to Melbourne! It took 6 years to build and at the peak of construction, it had 12,000 workers and craftsmen daily. If all of these make you think, WOW! You are definitely not alone!
All of this sounds great, but as I stepped out of the elevator on the 124th floor and looked out of the windows and saw all of Arabia laid before me (lol, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but it sounded nice to write), my one thought was about the audacity to dream! I mean, 35 years ago, there was no Dubai- at least not in the sense that we know it. There was desert and there was the pearl trade and that was it. So, as I looked out and took in the breath taking beauty that is around the Burj Khalifa; as I saw the dancing fountain of the Dubai Mall, the beds of water interlocking various buildings, in this place that is originally dessert, I was filled awe! Awe, of who man is! Awe of what we can do, once we set our minds to it! Awe, that a dream, which we pay no price for and which no limits can be placed on; is all the seed it takes to bring something great out of massive nothingness!
Being Nigerian, visiting Dubai always brings me immense pain! I tell you- it must be the masochist in me that keeps me coming back. I mean, everything Dubai has, Nigeria has! Everything Dubai has, Nigeria has, has more and has had it for longer! Oil, tick. Gas, tick, more! Water, tick, much much more. People, much, much, much, much more. And land mass? Phenomenally more. I am not naive enough to think that having more makes it easier, in fact, having practiced law specifically focused on the Nigerian oil & gas sector, I see how unwieldy administering “more” can be. However, it’s the mindset that I see here, which I don’t see in Nigeria that breaks my heart.
We were told (on the bus tour around Dubai), that the United Arab Emirates found out that they had oil. We were told, that their leaders sat down together and said, ‘yes, we have oil, but what do we do after the oil runs out?’ (After all, it has been said, that the stone age did not end for lack of stone, the oil age will not end for lack of oil. Very soon, the world will just move on). So they- the leaders- decided to use the proceeds of their oil to create another industry so that it grows and can fund itself, can attract investors but more importantly, so that when they run out of oil or if the world moves onto alternative fuels, there’ll be something else to fall back on! And so, they moved on to tourism, but what is beautiful about tourism in Dubai, is that it is a show of man’s mastery of his universe (this reinforces the lesson for me,that what happens to you or the circumstances you find yourself in is one thing, what you decide to do what it is another!). They took a dessert and made it the highest daily consumer of water, they have lush green grass,trees, they even managed to change their weather (somewhat). They took brown sand and dunes and created mega sites, sites for shopping and even skiing! I visited the ski Dubai and that is a whole story for another day, but suffice it to say that snow, bob sledding, skiing and snow sculptures in the desert, blew my mind away, again!
I have journeyed, with you, taken you from the Burj Khalifa, to mainstream Dubai, to the dancing fountains and from there to Nigeria and then the recesses of my mind, because the message I want to pass on is from mind to mind! I am saying, there is absolutely more to life! Much more that can be done, more boundaries to push, more change that you can make. You don’t pay to dream: dream as big as you wish, and when you’ve gotten to what you think is your biggest dream, push the envelope some more and super size it, and again and again!
I end this with 2 quotes on the Walls of Burj Khalifa, one was by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Makthoum, he said “the word impossible is not in the leaders dictionaries. No matter how big the challenges, strong faith, determination and resolve will overcome them”! And the piece d’resistance is a testimonial by the Burj Khalifa itself, it reads “I am the power that lifts the world’s head proudly skywards, surpassing limits and expectations. Rising gracefully from the desert and honouring the city with a new glow. I am an extraordinary union of engineering and art, with every detail considered and beautifully crafted. I AM THE LIFE FORCE OF COLLECTIVE ASPIRATIONS and the aesthetic union of many cultures. I stimulate dreams, stir emotions and awaken creativity. I am the magnet that attracts the wide-eyed tourist, eagerly catching their post card moment… I am the heart of the city and it’s people; the marker that defines Emaar‘s ambition and Dubai’s shining dream. More than just a moment in time, I DEFINE MOMENTS FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. I am Burj Khalifa”.
Wow! How high can you go, I ask! How high can you dream? This is the Burj Khalifa’s testimonial. What will yours be? I repeat, how high can you go?.