Dubai projects, Statue projects, Dubai, UAE

Dubai's moving statue explained

Plans for a moving statue in Dubai was recently explored as part of Arabian Business's new summer series that looks back at some of the most colourful and extraordinary proposals pitched in Dubai and the wider region and investigating what happened to them.

10 years ago, Dubai officials launched a competition for a monument to be built in Zaabeel Park.

One of the popular proposals was Al-Hakawati, meaning storyteller. This was to be a huge statue – around 10 storeys tall – of a man standing upright and the plan was that it would move its limbs and words would come out of its mouth.

The proposal was designed by Stockholm-based architecture firm Visiondivision. According to a report in June 2009 by The National newspaper, the statue would be able to "move its arms and hands, tilt its head slightly, open and shut its eyes and mouth".

Other attractions included in the plans for the statue's structure would be a children's library, various different themed rooms and even a golden nightclub located inside the statue’s head, with views of the Dubai skyline out through the statue's eyes.

According to the architect firm’s plans, the overall aim of the statue was to “add an extra layer to the park environment, making people linger longer in the park, promoting conversations and stimulating the imagination.”

The designers also hoped that “in every part of the Zaabeel park, small speakers are set up so people can gather around them and listen to the statue when he recites stories; perhaps great legends from One thousand and one night, historical anecdotes from the city itself and future speculations, all this performed with an animated body language”.

Attempts to contact the project's designers in Sweden have so far proved unsuccessful, but according a report in The National archives, the plans for the moving storytelling statue were replaced by The Dubai Frame, which opened in January 2018 and attracted over one million visitors in its first year.