Desert or island


Jullie Y. Daza

Dubai, in the middle of the desert, swimming and sinking in floods wrought by rain. Manila, in the middle of an archipelago of 7,600 islands floating on blue-green water, crying and praying for rain.

What if we could switch places on the map? Could we use science, satellite technology, AI to help us trade places for one day, one week? Global warming, extreme climate, etc., whatever it is, Mother Nature is telling us we are helpless as kids, unable to do anything about our situation, their situation. What we are seeing is that even a rich country like the United Arab Emirates, as wealthy as they are with their oil, is just like us in some ways, we and our floods, they and their flood, the first in 75 years. We’re rich in coconut oil, palm trees, beautiful beaches the whole year round, so once in a while Nature throws us a jolt and a bolt to remind us to be grateful for what we have.

Dubai airport, the busiest in the world, closed for business temporarily as mighty jet planes were forced to land on what looked like a lake. The tenants of Dubai’s gorgeous, incredible buildings – 90 percent of them foreigners -- found entry and egress difficult even as they tried to move their cars and possessions out of harm’s way.

According to Jun Palafox, architect and urban planner who was a senior planner for the then desert town of Dubai, the floods could be blamed on clogged drains. The amount of rain that fell in one day last week, equivalent to one year’s rainfall, was simply too much for the brick, concrete, and glass that built the city.

On invitation of Emirati friends, Jun will join flood-barrier experts from Europe in a post-calamity meeting “soonest” to assess what went wrong. It will be good to “visit places after disasters to learn lessons, put forward recommendations and proposals to address flooding in the UAE and the rest of the Arab Gulf countries.” How different can their floods be from ours?

Go, go, Jun! After the dry spell and scorching heat of April, we should expect “our” season of typhoons  -- when they’ll be breathing down our necks before Juan can recite the complete alphabet. ###