The Silk Road 2023

Another brand spanking new 'city' is being designed and built on desert sands of the Persian Gulf and this will be the new location of the world's tallest building. This time, this city will not be located in the United Arab Emirates but in Kuwait. This new city will be built in the northern desert of Kuwait, in Subiya and will be connected to Kuwait city by bridge. It will be called Madinat al-Hareer or the City of Silk. In the center of this new city which will be similar in size to Edinburgh, Scotland, will be the future tallest skyscraper in the world - Burj Mubarak al-Kabir. This building will essentially be 7 neighborhoods stacked on top of each other. At the highest point it will be twice the height of Taipei 101 (1,670 ft). My interest in this project however, is not in this insanely tall building or the new media, finance, health, sport zones, or the new airport or port - but in the new very ambitious railway system that spans the historic Silk Road.
The historic Silk Route/ Silk Road (image from Wikipedia)
The Silk Road was the historic path of traders and merchants that connected China and India to Europe through the Middle East. What the tiny country of Kuwait plans to create is a rail network that will connect Kuwait to Syria, Iraq, Iran, Israel and China. And while this goal may seem rather lofty, the government of Kuwait has apparently been in discussion with these countries since 1998 and the funding for this endeavor is already all in place. The first part of this rail project will be the inner-city metro of Kuwait City that will connect to the larger railway system to the other GCC countries which include Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman.
When I first read about this development, I immediately had images of the luxury and excess of the Orient Express, and the comfort and speed of the Japanese Bullet trains dancing in my head; and I was reminded of the sense of freedom and joy I experienced with my Eurorail pass traveling to country after country in Europe during my college days. For me, trains have always had an aura of romance and mystery that have escaped air travel, especially these days with horrid lines at airports and the dire lack of service from airlines, not to mention rising costs. Of course it will be quite some time before this railway system is operational, the designers anticipate 2023 - and who knows what transportation will look like then. Oh, the possibilities!


The Happiest Place on Earth - and It Ain't Disneyland

But it does start with a "D." It's Denmark.

Two separate studies on both sides of the pond have concluded that the happiest people on earth live in Denmark. The first study which formed the "Happiness Index" was a part of the World Values Survey headed by University of Michigan's political scientist Ronald Inglehart. The second study was done out of the University of Leicester. Adrian White, the lead researcher on the project and his team created the first ever World Map of Happiness. This result may surprise many but over the past thirty years, Denmark has consistently scored higher than any western country on life satisfaction. Trying to make sense of this conclusion, Danish researchers suggested that the Danes were happier because they had low expectations of their own country. While I suppose it is a blessing to be content with what you have, that analysis sounded rather dismal to me. There had to be more. The researchers on the World Map of Happiness did also conclude that a nation's happiness levels had much to do with a country's health levels, prosperity and education.
Image by Bob Krist (www.nationalgeographic.com)

The Danish secret however, may have been uncovered by Monocle Magazine in their survey of the World's Most Livable City. In addition to evaluating a city's airport, transportation links, crime rates and neighborhoods, this year they also investigated cultural venues and ease of opening small businesses amongst other requirements. And what city ranked number one? Copenhagen. In large part because it provided urban dwellers most what they look for - a mix of shops and services, green space, independent businesses, restaurants, cafes, street-life, security and a comfortable dose of grit and surprise.

I visited Copenhagen some years ago and while I do not remember an immediate and overwhelming sense of joy or happiness, (granted I had just left Sweden, the land of extraordinarily beautiful people), I do remember being captivated by good design.... (I wonder how much of a role design plays in the state of wellbeing...). Perhaps, one has to live in Copenhagen to reap the full emotional benefits. The older brother of a dear friend of mine is moving to Copenhagen from New York. I guess, I will check in with him in a few months and see how he is doing....


Why Another Blog?

Welcome to my new blog! Why another - you may ask?

Well this is my new brainchild after ten years of searching. Sounds very profound - but it really isn't. Being an avid reader, researcher, writer, traveler and consumer of the good life, I started to notice many years ago, while working on my graduate research on the effects of globalization on culture, identity and architecture, that there was just a dire lack of material out there that addressed people like me- global inhabitants, travelers, people of mixed heritage, culturally diverse; people who sit comfortably at the intersection of cultures and humanity merging. Instead I found that a lot of printed materials 'targeting' global nomads were often rather superficial and overly commercial.

As a result, I would often have to sift through mounds of literature to find a small singular sporadic item that would be directly relevant to me, my lifestyle. And aside from the occasional article in the Financial Times weekend issue, or the odd book, or an unorganized, haphazard group on a social networking site there really isn't much out there that gives us a voice. I have looked.

It is not that I find myself so interesting or unique. The numbers of people whom make their homes in multiple cities globally, or are of mixed heritage continue to grow, as do the numbers of people who are migrating and traveling worldwide. According to Richard Florida, in his book Who's Your City, he estimates that approximately 200 million people (1 in 35 people worldwide) live outside the country they were born. So my hope and intent for this blog was to take a more varied and deeper look at our global lives, identities, cultures, interests, travels, hobbies, etc.

If you have ideas as to what you would like me to research or focus on or write about in this blog - send me an email or make a comment on this blog. My email address can be found under my profile. (If interested you can also check out my other blog: www.borderlessculture.com ). I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you!
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