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