For the last years, Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has pursued a simple goal: to become number one in everything. Dubai would get the world's biggest cargo port, the world's tallest skyscraper, the world's largest airport, the world's biggest amusement park, and the world's greatest concentration of five-star hotels. But in May 2007, Head of Dubai's Road and Transport Authority, Matter Al Tayer, asked at the International Design Forum about the emirate's growing traffic problems, found these astonishing words: "I love Düsseldorf. It's my favourite city. With bicycles and pedestrian zones next to the Kö [the Königsallee, a central boulevard and luxury shopping mile]."
Düsseldorf was one of the pillars of the German economic miracle of the fifties; with the Kö, the high-rise building popularly called Dreischeibenhaus ("Three-Slice Building"), and its pedestrian traffic lights featuring a yellow phase, it came to epitomize German modernity. Today, Düsseldorf is wealthier than the average German city, but since the reunification of Germany, it has largely failed to attract attention on the supraregional stage. With the end of the real estate boom and the onset of the global financial crisis, Dubai, for its part, finds itself buried under a gigantic load of debt.
What if, in this era of globalisation, not only corporations from different countries and continents merged but cities as well? Which synergies might such a fusion generate? Which imaginations and energies might the mere announcement unleash? Starting from an idea proposed by architect Markus Miessen and writer Ingo Niermann, a team of artists, film directors, designers, and architects speculates about how Dubai and Düsseldorf unite their strengths to find solutions for the 21st century.