City of Lyon being cloned in Dubai

Dubai is cloning the city of Lyon, France on a 700-acre plot, replicating its cultural institutions in a grand and surreal gesture of I'm-not-sure-what. Alas, the newtown is called "Lyons-Dubai City" and not "Baudrillardville."

Lyons and Dubai had already signed a "pact of cooperation and friendship" but al-Gandhi's idea adds a new twist to twinning: the new Lyons will cover an area of about 700 acres, roughly the size of the Latin Quarter of Paris, and will contain squares, restaurants, cafes and museums.

Al-Gandhi could have picked a worse place. Famed as the home of gastronomy and the birthplace of cinema, Lyons sits between two of France's best-known wine-growing regions. Even so, Dubai is unlikely to want to copy the decrepit tower blocks that ring the real city, symbols of the urban violence that periodically plagues France. Nor is the country's recent smoking ban in public places expected to be exported.

The desert city will include a Paul Bocuse Institute, like the one in Lyons named after the hallowed chef, in which students will study hotel management and gastronomy.

Link (Thanks, Grey!)

(Image: Old Lyon, a Creative Commons Attribution licensed photo from Will Palmer's Flickr stream)


  1. and Ni! to you too.

    I was toying with the idea of working in Dubai, lots of opportunity there- apparently.

  2. Yeah,like indoor ski hills, artificial islands shaped like the world (a la Niven yet)and a entire younger generation grown up on oil money and watching foreigners do all the work.

  3. I think urban space itself just jumped the shark…

    Hopefully they’ll put the H&M, the McDonalds and the Starbucks in exactly the same locations as in real Lyon (or would that be Lyon I?)

  4. I wonder what assurances, if any, the city of Lyon got that no slave labor would be involved before signing their pact.

  5. Last time I was in Lyon, it was quite a bit larger than 700 acres, so this sounds less like “clone” and more like “Las Vegas theme park”.

    What a sad and utterly useless waste of energy and materials.

  6. Compared to spending money on cheap solar powered water purifiers… education (especially for women) in the developing world… malaria vaccination…

    Almost anything, really.

  7. No ‘s’ in Lyon. It’s considered the capital of gastronomy in France, but besides that I’ve never cared much for that place. Oh, and BTW, eating at Bocuse is really a life-changing experience.

  8. I am an American currently living in Lyon. For some reason, “Lyons” is an accepted spelling to the Brits. I don’t get it either.

  9. Dubai is Las Vegas writ large.

    The major industries are: Banking( money-laundering and usury), Blood Oil(ditto) and Whores.

    It’s a nice place to visit if you’re a Rothschild, a Dick Cheney or a pimp.

    There’s also alot of money to be made in construction.
    (But not if you are the poor bloke from say, the Philippines, slaving away under the lash sending a meager remittance to your family back in Mindanao.)

    Las Vegas has a faux Paris, a fake New York, a falso Venezia, and was founded by death-dealing master-criminals.

    But it has no Lyon.

    Vive Lyon!

    Dubai Pthph!!!

  10. “Clone” is probably the wrong word for what this guy is trying to do. It was reported in the local French press that he would be constructing a development that *resembled* Lyon, rather than duplicating specific buildings–probably a good idea since the city’s most distinctive landmark is a Catholic cathedral.

    What makes this project interesting, and what differentiates it from any number of Las Vegas resorts (think New York New York or The Venetian), is the attempt to import cultural institutions. Besides Olympique Lyonnais and a Bocuse restaurant as mentioned in the linked article, these would include the Institut Lumiere (film studies), a satellite campus of the University of Lyon, and a branch of the Musee des Tissus (which is much more interesting than it sounds).

    I believe Paul Bocuse already has a restaurant at one of the Disney parks, so this shouldn’t be too different…though I wonder if pork, an absolute essential in Lyonnaise cuisine, will be on the menu.

    Also, for the true Lyon experience, there should be no place to park, and everything should smell faintly of pee.

  11. >> compared to what?

    Well, I just read in the NY Times that it would cost about 6 million dollars to effectively eradicate rabies from North Africa. This stupid Lyon project will probably spend 6 million on one restaurant kitchen. You can’t be so dense as to fail to glimpse the inequity and misplaced priorities on display.

  12. So as part of their “pact of cooperation” is Lyon going to return the favour and exploit poor immigrant workers to construct a massive, environmentally destructive playground for the rich and breathtakingly selfish?

  13. As a major center for the weaving industry, Lyon was the home of Joseph Marie Jacquard. His punchcard-controlled loom inspired Charles Babbage, after visits to Lyon, to design his Analytical Engine to be programmed by punched cards.

    The 19th-century proto-hackers of Lyon designed card stacks that produced amazing fabric illustrations, some with thousands of threads of resolution.

  14. The “s” at the end of Lyons and Marseilles in English is actually the original spelling.

    The French later dropped it from the spelling, but this didn’t make its way over to Britain.

    You can still find small towns in France containing “Marseilles” in their name (with the “s” intact).

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