Futures, fakes and discourses of the gigantic and miniature in ‘The World’ islands, Dubai

Island Studies Journal. 2015;10(2):181-196


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Journal Title: Island Studies Journal

ISSN: 1715-2593 (Print)

Publisher: University of Prince Edward Island

Society/Institution: Institute of Island Studies

LCC Subject Category: Geography. Anthropology. Recreation: Physical geography

Country of publisher: Canada

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF



Pamila Gupta (University of the Witwatersrand)


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Time From Submission to Publication: 6 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

This article takes the “island” as a key trope in tourism studies, exploring how ideas of culture and nature, as well as those of paradise (lost) are central to its interpretation for tourists and tourist industries alike. Increasingly, however, island tourism is blurring the line between geographies of land and water, continent and archipelago, and private and public property. The case of ‘The World’ islands mega project off the coast of Dubai (UAE) is used to chart the changing face and future of island tourism, exploring how spectacle, branding and discourses of the gigantic, miniature, and fake, particularly alongside technological mediations on a large-scale, reflect the postmodern neoliberal world of tourism and the liquid times in which we live. Artificial island complexes such as this one function as cosmopolitan ‘non-places’ at the same time that they reflect a resurgence in (British) nascent nationalism and colonial nostalgia, all the whilst operating in a sea of ‘junkspace’. The shifting cartography of ‘the island’ is thus mapped out to suggest new forms of place-making and tourism’s evolving relationship to these floating islandscapes.