Never mind the toasty desert climate, there’s a rainforest growing in Dubai. This rainforest isn’t so much sprouting up from sun-baked sand by the Persian Gulf as it is under construction. It’s one of the main attractions of the city’s Rosemont Hotel and Residences, a 2 million-square-foot development that will open in 2018.
Yes, all the flora will be real, the architects behind the hotel project told Co.Exist. And indigenous plants like the date palm will be used as much as possible.
The 75,000-square-foot outdoor rainforest will be located on the hotel’s third-level podium and rooftop and offer hotels guests plenty to explore, including “adventure trails,” streams, waterfalls, and a “prehistoric Jurassic-inspired marsh.” Those in pursuit of less exotic delights can kick around in a splash pool, catch some sun on a sand-less beach, or down refreshments at the rainforest cafe. Free fun for the whole family (and accessible to the general public for a still-to-be-determined fee).
“The site wasn’t a beachfront location, so we looked at how we could create a new type of outdoor leisure space in the city, while fully integrating nature into the guest experience,” says DJ Armin, the managing partner at ZAS International, the design firm behind the hotel. “The rainforest’s vegetation will provide natural shade and cooler outdoors areas during summer months.”
Cool counts, as Dubai summers can be sticky, hot, and uncomfortable, with temperatures routinely rising above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now, if you’re wondering how it’s possible to justify a rainforest given the deep water stresses of the locale, the architects say they are powering up a “technologically advanced, sensory rain system.” Think one of those mist tents, except at massive scale–with water conservation in mind. The water itself will be from the condensation formed in the hotel’s air conditioners and treated wastewater.
While the Rosemont rainforest is designed as a novelty attraction, Armin says the intent is for the jungle to double as an educational tool, not unlike, say, the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.
This sky-high desert oasis (like the rest of the hotel) certainly looks cool–and should get plenty of hype in the world’s fastest growing city. And if turns out to be as environmentally friendly as advertised, it’d be great to see more like it. But since deforestation is still rampant globally, perhaps we should be worried about a Mad Max-style dystopian future in which the only rainforests left on planet Earth are housed inside climate-controlled luxury hotels owned and inhabited by the ultra rich.