Today, Dubai will open the first phase of its Red Line Metro, bringing the first advanced transit system to the United Arab Emirates. The 32-mile long project runs along Sheikh Zayed Road and parallel to the waterfront, connecting downtown with the city’s artificial palm-shaped islands and reaching most of the new skyscraper districts that have come to define Dubai’s look. Yet with the economic crisis, the legendary traffic and population growth that plagued the city until as recently as last year are nowhere to be found and, as a result, the Metro’s effectiveness won’t be clear until the next market upswing. But the design of the transit network and the city as a whole put into question whether anything can be done to tame Dubai’s notoriously unfriendly pedestrian environment.
The Metro project’s price increased rapidly during
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