The Rak Jebel Al Jais Mountain Resort is a new master planned tourist village in the Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates. Designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, this future resort will be built on the top and the sides of a mountain range, defying nature and the mountains with its extravagant design, improbable building site and disregard for the native landscape. In a country focused so completely on luxurious resorts, new developments and ostentatious displays, this resort is no surprise.
A new road will be built along the mountain tops connecting dramatic points of interest along the way. Buildings cling to the mountain along the path, at times actually bridging the road across gaps. The resort will include hotels, residences, shopping, restaurants, offices, a convention center and exhibition halls. Cable cars, funiculars and elevators will allow guests and residents to travel to the various areas within the resort.
The resort, located in the mountains East of Dubai, consists of many buildings including an inhabited damn and bridge, all of which seem to precariously grasp to the sides of cliffs. Villas and pixelated housing units cut into the mountain with flat roofs used for lush gardens and pools. The Wedge is a prominent feature that juts out from the top of the mountain, extending out over the cliffs and providing a flat public plaza for events, and concerts. The Dam is a curving arc that cuts across a valley and contains a hotel and apartments. On top of the Dam, a road connects the two ridge lines. The Bridge is another noticeable structure spanning from two high points over a gully. Inside, an open air outdoor park cuts through the length of the building.
Rak Jebel Al Jais Mountain Resort is yet another example of the monstrous projects that are expected to be built in the desert region of the Persian Gulf. With pools, luscious gardens, roads and cliff-side dwellings, this resort stands out starkly against the surrounding barren landscape. Architecturally, some may find it appealing and certainly interesting, but in terms of sustainability, this resort will reek havoc on the local environment. Located in a region with limited water, is it responsible to develop such a massive resort? And what will power the many restaurants, hotels, cable cars and the funicular? We prefer some of the more recent designs for eco-resorts that celebrate the natural landscape and do their best to minimize their environmental impact.