Only in Dubai: 10 Wild, Dazzling & Absurd Record-Breaking Projects

World’s First Commercial Hyperloop

The world’s first commercial Hyperloop system is set to debut along the border between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 2020, close to the World Expo 2020 site and the Al Maktoum International Airport. The project got its start in 2013 when Elon Musk opened up his research on the technology to any company that could develop it. Sections of the Hyperloop are currently being installed, and if it’s ever fully complete, it will connect passengers and cargo at speeds of up to 760mph, powered by a combination of alternative energy sources.

But this ‘first’ might ultimately have to go to Abu Dhabi. Though it was initially announced as a system to connect Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced in 2018 that “there is no specific route for operating the Hyperloop system in Dubai or between Dubai and other emirates.”

“The system is still under the process of research and development, and RTA is closely following the developments in this technology, and will study several options for determining the route which will be announced in the future.”

Museum of the Future: (Potentially) The World’s Largest 3D-Printed Building

Huge 3D printers capable of building massive object are in various phases of development all over the world, and China has already used the technology to print entire apartment buildings. Dubai itself printed the “World’s First 3D-Printed Office Building,” a curvilinear structure made of a special cement mixture. But Dubai’s Museum of the Future is on a whole other scale. Currently under construction and set to open in 2019, the museum will be one of the world’s most advanced buildings once built, and it’ll be partially 3D-printed. The developers haven’t specified exactly which parts, however, so we’ll have to wait and see on this one.

World’s First Roadside Gallery

The “World’s First Roadside Gallery” debuted in Dubai in February 2018, featuring a series of billboards along 62 miles (100km) of the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway. Sure, you can just check out the collection as you cruise along, taking in works like Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black (1922) and Leonardo da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronniere (1495-1499), or you can tune in to any of three radio stations partnering on the project for a more interactive experience. The radio gives you a short blurb about each artwork as you pass by. The Highway Gallery is a joint project of Louvre Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Media.

World’s First Drive-Through Crocodile Exhibit

Here’s a weird one: the “World’s First Drive-Through Exhibit of Crocodiles.” A bus takes visitors at the new Dubai Safari right inside the crocodile pit, driving alongside a narrow road built across the water. Customized for the purpose, the buses aim to produce the feel of a real safari. The Dubai Safari is home to 2,500 species of animals, and by 2020, it will host up to 5,000. Though it closed for the summer for improvements, it will be reopening in October.

World’s First Operational Police Robot

China might have a leg up on the rest of the world when it comes to creepy technology-aided dystopian policing, but Dubai is already home to the “World’s First Robotic Policeman.” The life-sized patrolman is capable of identifying wanted individuals, collecting evidence and patrolling busy areas of the city. If a citizen wants to report a crime, they can approach the bot and use a touch screen on its chest, and pressing an SOS button summons human authorities.

So far, the humanoid cop isn’t quite as terrifying as it could be, considering that it doesn’t seem to be equipped with weapons, but the Dubai government says it’s working on the “World’s Largest Robot” standing nearly 10 feet tall and capable of running up to 80mph. The Dubai police force reportedly wants to replace up to a quarter of its human police with droids by 2030.