Rainforest in the desert
Modern advances in neuroscience have provided new insight into creativity and the creative process. Unlike in the past, researchers are discovering that creativity is not just for a few ‘special’ people, but that the potential for creativity lies in each person. Creativity – they say – can be acquired throughout a lifetime at any age and that being creative is mastered through practicing unfamiliar skills.
I have been fascinated with creativity – unleashing the potential of the mind to conceive new ideas – for years now. As a student of history and political economy, I often wonder why a part of the world will be more developed than others and why some countries remain perpetually underdeveloped even though they have what it takes to be developed.
For instance, why is a country like Nigeria – with all its human and material resources –revolving in a vicious cycle of underdevelopment and retrogression? The answer to this simple question can take volumes of books to explain, yet it is on record that Nigerians are some of the most creative and enterprising people in the world. Countries’ where Nigerians are contributing immensely toward their development often wonder why the motherland is in a perpetual parlous state.
I was intrigued by a story which is going to form our subject matter today. A Dubai, United Arab Emirates based property development company, Damac Properties, put its machinery in motion two years ago to work with Amazon rainforest experts to recreate the jungle within a dome at its Akoya Oxygen development project. Yes you read right, a rainforest in the desert!
This will add to a collection of spectacles that include an indoor ski slope. Visitors will be able to “fly through the treetops on a zip wire,” according to the company which also stated that “The Dubai rainforest will recreate the natural environment experienced in the heart of the deepest rainforests. It will be a tropical wonderland, which tourists, residents and school groups can immerse themselves in.”
The project is expected to be completed ahead of the World Expo 2020 exhibition taking place in the Emirate, and will become a key attraction within Dubai’s integrated tourism plans. It will join attractions such as the varied theme parks in addition to the world’s tallest fountain, the Palm Jumeirah, the Dubai Eye and the Dubai Aquarium as Dubai looks to welcome at least 20 million tourists a year by 2020.
If you read in between the lines you’ll realise that the country has a deliberate plan in place to continuously grow its economy using a tourism master plan. It is an open fact that Dubai is now the playground of some Nigerians who now hold their weddings, birthday and other celebrations in the city. But most fail to realise that twenty years ago, Dubai was a desert wasteland. But due to creativity and ingenuity, their leaders were able to turn thing around after ploughing their oil wealth to develop the city into a world class city with a global aviation hub to match.
As a result of their creativity and foresight, Dubai is known around the world for attracting the biggest and best with the Dubai rainforest joining the list of unique attractions which will support the growth of the city as it provide a new space for education and cultural events which will raise awareness of this exciting ecosystem.
The proposed rainforest will sit adjacent to the Trump World Golf Clubhouse, Dubai – an 18-hole Championship-standard golf course, which is under design by world-famous golfer,Tiger Woods. There will also be an open-air walkway of high-end retail and entertainment offering for residents and visitors.
The question to ask here is this; why would Tiger Woods leave the United States of America or Europe to establish a golf course in the desert? The answer is simple; Dubai provides a conducive and peaceful environment for international investments. While other parts of the Middle East are boiling, Dubai and other emirates within the UAE remain peaceful. Those who have visited the city can attest to this. You hardly come across policemen or security agents on the streets.
The rainforest will recreate the natural environment experienced in the heart of the deepest rainforests and visitors will be taken on a journey through the jungle, starting out on the ground level, before climbing into the canopy, learning about the flora and fauna throughout the habitat. Those with a thrill for heights will be able to fly through the treetops on a “zip wire” offering stunning bird’s eye views of the environment. Those with a more serene temperament will be able to laze back within the peaceful surrounds of the rainforest spa, offering hydrothermal treatments among the rock pools and steam baths.
It will also incorporate all of the latest outdoor and exploration equipment with a natural-looking rock face climbing wall set within the abundant nature. It will also be opened to the true romantics, looking for a very unique wedding environment. Couples will be able to exchange vows in a beautiful rainforest clearing, followed by a sumptuous feast with the wedding party. Did I hear you shout aloud “welcome Nigerians?”
When you read stories of this nature you’re bound to reflect about Nigeria and wonder why we remain static while the world has moved on. If nothing else makes you cry, our current descent into a state of anomie should. Last Sunday’s senseless church killings in Anambra State, for instance, have left many totally perplexed in search of meaning.
Any nation devoid of visionary leadership and integrity can hardly experience stability and peace. This appears to be the story of Nigeria in recent years. Leaders with vision are known to inspire citizens and mobilise them for nation building. Leaders with crystal motives employ wisdom, foresight, sense of purpose and commitment, to galvanise a people towards self-actualisation and propel the nationalist spirit in them.
Our lives have in recent times been dominated by a worsening security situation, manifested in kidnappings, ritual killings,, armed robbery, arson, politically motivated crises, massive youth unemployment and acrimonious poverty. Ours remains a country where millions are under-nourished, where economic, education, health and social infrastructures have practically collapsed or are tottering. In contradistinction to this national scenario is a political leadership class that wallows in financial and economic constipation and social self-adulation.
It is quite painful to note that Dubai is enacting its miracle with the same crude oil we have. They’ve known years back that fossil fuel may become obsolete in the near future hence their diversification toward tourism and the provision of level playing fields for investors.
After years of being an “incurable optimist”, I’ve started wondering if our situation is irredeemable. Are we a different breed of human beings different from citizens elsewhere such as in Singapore or Malaysia, South Africa or Ghana? Why is it so “difficult” to organise and lead Nigeria toward peaceful co-existence, political stability and economic prosperity? How can we achieve a paradigm shift from a reactive to a pro-active leadership with a positive culture of governance?
From my little corner, I believe what we need is a different definition and perception of politics, where the paths to public service are not as smooth and attractive as they are now for rogues, thieves and brigands. We need a place where the gains of office are not as rewarding as they are currently fashioned out to be. We need a shift in leadership with focus sustained by transparency and accountability where civil society will engage the political leadership in balancing policy objectives against concrete acts of governance.
I make bold to say where public figures exemplify the sterling qualities of leadership, they rub off on the society at large and invest citizens with patriotic fervour. But where a country or society is plagued by rogue leadership, treasury looting, election rigging, political brigandage and assassination – in such circumstances creativity takes flight and the citizens cannot envision a project like the Dubai rainforest.