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Mon 4 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Dubai's new street icon

In its bid to be a world-class city, it was only a matter of time before Dubai acquired its own street icon. COD finds out more about the city's latest arrival.

In its bid to be a world-class city, it was only a matter of time before Dubai acquired its own street icon. COD finds out more about the city's latest arrival.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of months, you can hardly fail to have noticed the profusion of futuristic shelters that have appeared in Dubai all of a sudden.

From Sheikh Zayed Road to the streets of Bur Dubai, the ultra modern steel and glass structures seem to be everywhere, making them a strong candidate to become the city's very first street icon.

The air-conditioned shelters, the brainchild of outdoors advertising company Right Angle Media, currently number more than 200, but with additional shelters being put up at a rate of four per day, are expected to reach at least 1,000 by the summer, according to the company.

They are the first air-conditioned bus shelters in the world to have been installed on a city wide basis, Raman Multani, CEO of Right Angle Media, claims.

"We studied the market, realised the need for a concept like this and presented it to the government," he says.

The shelters were designed, installed and operated by Right Angle Media through a public-private partnership with Dubai's Road and Transport Authority (RTA).

Right Angle Media will pay US$4.7 million to the RTA, according to terms of the contract.

he advertising firm said it expects to recoup the investment through advertising revenue. It has exclusive advertising rights to the shelters for the first 10 years, after which time the RTA will acquire ownership of the shelters.
The model works through the use of especially designed air conditioning units in the shelters, which keep the internal temperature at 22°C. Electricity for the units is provided by DEWA, while drainage pipes are installed to channel condensation.

The pipe leads deep into the ground and is released into the sand at the foundation level.

At present, the shelters exist only in Dubai, but plans are afoot to introduce them also in Abu Dhabi and Jordan, Multani reveals, with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Turkey also being investigated as potential markets.

The shelters were installed to serve a basic purpose - promoting more use of buses - but qualify as a street icon for another reason - their strong design.

Glass and stainless steel were used to give a futuristic feel to the shelters to match Dubai's identity as a modern city, but the crescent design allowed them to at the same time have a strong Arabic flavour, Multani explains.

"Our intention is to create an infrastructure driven asset which is providing a convenience, which is very utilitarian as far as the local population is concerned and yet the designing is in such a way that it complements the aesthetics of the city.

Its plan seems to have worked.

Whatever you may think of the shelters, their design is so strong that they have already become part of the visual fabric of Dubai, and could one day even enjoy the status of more celebrated street icons such as the red telephone boxes of Britain or the metro entrances in Paris.

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