A businessman in the desert Arab emirate of Dubai has launched plans to faithfully reconstruct the French city of Lyon, right down to its cafes, cinemas and schools, officials from the southwestern city have announced.
The project, due to be completed in 2012, is being driven by businessman Saeed Al Gandhi who fell in love with France’s third biggest city after a visit to draw up plans for a French-language university in Dubai in partnership with the Lyon-2 campus.
He is due to sign a draft deal for the 500 million euro project next week with the city of Lyon.
Lyon-Dubai City, as the new area will be known, will contain public squares, restaurants, outdoor cafes and museums.
All the original Lyon’s gastronomic, cultural, sporting and economic institutions will be painstakingly replicated.
"The city will be organized on European lines so that in a bistrot there you will find the same atmosphere as in a bistrot in Lyon,” said urban specialist Jean-Paul Lebas, who is working on the project.
It is not clear whether the French smoking ban, in force since Jan 2, will be extended to the Dubai bistrots.