For much of the 20th century, the rest of the world found America's obsession with faux-reality amusement parks - Disneyland, Busch Gardens, etc. - deeply weird.
But the rest of the world is catching up fast. No place is moving more quickly than Dubai, home of the World Islands offshore tourist archipelago, where replicas of various global locales are being built on artificial islands.
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One of those island clusters, The Heart of Europe, aims to recreate European locales including Vienna, Rome, Andalusia, Cote d'Azur, Monaco, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and St. Petersburg. To add to the ambiance, developers are even planning to provide snow - real snow, outdoors, in the hot desert sun.
Well, real snow in this instance means snow generated from machines - ski-resort style. But the plan is to create an outdoor climate-controlled environment where snow will fall on the faux-European streets and stick around on the ground, at least for a while.
The German-designed climate control system will use a network of underground cooling pipes so that the falling snow doesn't immediately melt as soon as it lands. The same system will also recycle the melt water to create new snow.
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Alert readers will note that Dubai might be a difficult place to sustain snowfall. Average temperature in the summer is 96 degrees Fahrenheit. In January, it's 66 degrees.
Still, the real estate developers of the Kleindienst Group insist it can be done. In a promotional video with the website 7 Days in Dubai – featuring the Dubai snowman pictured above – CEO Josef Kleindienst says the technology has been in use for several years, but never implemented in a fully outdoor setting.
The groups also claims the system uses no more energy than a typical shopping mall climate control system. "We are aiming for a green building certificate, for the highest rating possible in Dubai," says Kleindienst in the video. Skepticism seems warranted, but then again, German engineering is notoriously formidable.