Jeff Jarvis has been doing his thing in Dubai, about 160km up the road from my former home in Abu Dhabi. He has a nice spread of pics (I don’t seem to ever have posted mine) and talks a little about his attempts to find the “real Dubai”.
I proposed a problem to solve: What if a city, say Philadelphia, loses its paper tomorrow. What would you build in its place to serve the community? The [working] group went to town. Rather than trying to hack at the old, they build something new.
They calculated the likely revenue Philadelphia could support online and then figured out what they could afford in staffing. Instead of the 200-300-person newsroom that has existed in print, they decided they could afford 35 and they broke that down to include a new job description: “community managers who do outreach, mediation, social media evangelism.” They settled on three of those plus 20 content creators, two programmers, three designers, five producers (I think they were a bit heavy on those two), and — get this — only three editors.
The Moroccan cities of Rabat and Salé are inching ever close to becoming one, a project 800 years in the making if you’re feeling poetic, two years if you’re feeling realistic.
Either way, it’s a fairly huge undertaking and an indication of how urban sprawl and economic necessity can bring about major changes in the demographic and political spheres. It isn’t one absorbing the other through growth and authority — I’m sure we all know at least suburb that has become part of a city proper in our lifetimes — but an indication of how highly the government considers having a capital that’s big enough to compete on both economic and prestige fronts.
And what interests me as well is that Morocco either had an inkling of a global recession, or were simply prudent enough to cover the possibility: it has a $3.25bn emergency fund in case investors pull out of the project.
Morocco broke ground on the US$4 billion Bouregreg project in 2006 and plans to complete major work in 2010. New breakwaters have appeared, the estuary sports a new marina and corniche, and the grinding of heavy machinery echoes through Rabat as workers lay rails for a tram system spanning the river.
The river flats will be covered in swish new houses and business parks, and resort hotels will stud the coastline. UAE firms Sama Dubai and Sorouh Real Estate are supplying investment and building expertise, but the government promises Moroccans that their capital will not become a Gulf-style megalopolis.
I’m not sure if it will be called Rabat or Bouregreg, after the river that flows between the two cities. I’m just fascinated by urban transformation.
It’s not the first example of cities merging — there’s Budapest — but it’s one of the bigger ones in recent history, perhaps even the biggest if my memory is accurate. I also like motivation behind it; whereas Budapest was formed from three cities to be the capital of Hungary, in Morocco it is a natural progression, as the two cities are quite intertwined as it is.
Zabeel Investments has seen sense and is no longer pursuiing Charlton Athletic. It had made an indicative cash offer for the Championship club but it has all come to nought. Zabeel has been linked with Liverpool, Newcastle and Everton but
today went as far as saying it has “no current intention” to acquire “any English club for the foreseeable future” therefore killing off any future rumours it could purchase a financially distressed English club.
Zabeel could probably have picked the club up for peanuts but, as Charlton are hardly setting the league alight this season and are far from marketable on a global scale, I’m not at all surprised that the deal is dead. It blamed the financial crisis and the debate over foreign ownership of English teams for the buy’s demise, and I am sure this played a factor, but at the end of the day, and with all due respect, it’s Charlton Athletic. Even if it had the money to compete at the highest level, there’s no guarantee it would attract players of the right calibre.