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July 11th, 2011
The Sand Castle

“Exotic and delightful…. Rarely has the philosophical divide between Western minds and Eastern sensibilities been reflected with so much charm and originality as in this wry, eye-opening program.”
–Canwest News

About the Issue

Once an outpost for pirates and the pearl trade, the oil-rich United Arab Emirates is working fervently to reinvent itself on a global scale. Comprised of seven family-run mini-states, and strategically centered between the traditional powers of the West and the rising stars of the East, the Emirates is a fast-growing international trading hub. Drawing more tourists than India or Egypt, investors, and about 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies to its tax-free desert landscape, the Emirates are gaining a reputation as an oasis of economic success amidst a region scathed by conflict and political instability. Though some of the emirates have enough oil to sustain their economies in the near-term, Ras al-Khaimah, the northern-most emirate, is not so blessed. So, inspired by its flourishing sister-state Dubai, Ras-al-Khaimah has come up with a plan to diversify its investments and build itself into global significance by commissioning world-renowned architects to invent a city on the sand dunes.

About the Film

WIDE ANGLE travels to the royal headquarters of the United Arab Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah as HH Sheikh Saud solicits top European architects to carry out his grandiose dream of a new capital city in the middle of his desert kingdom. The documentary follows a Norwegian architectural firm as it makes its bid to design the capital’s master plan, immersing viewers inside an unfolding drama in which agents of East and West struggle to arrive at an architectural vision both worlds can embrace — and one that will ultimately fulfill a Sheikh’s bold dreams.

Full Episode Transcript

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