Indian officials slammed a proposal by the UAE to build a clone of its iconic Taj Mahal in Dubai.
Taj Arabia, which is planned to be a 300-room hotel and four times bigger in size than the original Taj Mahal in Agra city, about 200 km south of New Delhi, had Indian cultural officials frowning over what they called “duplicating history artificially.”
“It is patently wrong and absurd,” Satish told India’s IANS news agency on Tuesday. “This kind of distortion and in principle duplication of history artificially…You cannot re-create history. Agra must get its share in terms of royalty from anyone using the brand Taj Mahal.”
Another Indian official, Rakesh Sharma, President of the All India Brahmin Mahasabha, dubbed the proposed $36.6 billion Taj Arabia as “a caricature of the original.”
“From where will they bring the romantic tales, the river Yamuna and the ambience of Agra?"
Taj Mahal, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, was built by a Mughal emperor in memory of his third wife.
“At least they should pay a royalty to the Taj city for using its brand name,” tourism industry leader Abhinav Jain told IANS.
Others called on the developer behind Taj Arabia, Global Group, to scrap the project altogether.
“Ideally the Dubai builder should not go ahead with this project as it hurts our sentiments. Taj Mahal is basically a spiritual center, with thousands of people offering prayers and paying obeisance round the year,” said Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.
“The Taj represents or climaxes the 5,000 years of Indian excellence. To belittle the original through a fake model is not a desirable thing,” he added.
Taj Arabia is part of the Falconcity of Wonders development in Dubai which also includes a proposed 11-storey high pyramid to house offices and a museum.