Towering ambition Dubai reaches for stars
Published 05/01/2010 | 05:00
THE world's tallest skyscraper was opened in Dubai yesterday.
In a surprise to the thousands of people gathered for the ceremony, the 2,717ft Burj Dubai was immediately renamed the Burj Khalifa in honour of the man who bailed the financially troubled city-state out of its debts last month.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan rules the neighbouring emirate of Abu Dhabi. He and his brothers lent €6.7bn to pay off the pressing debts of one of Dubai's biggest state-owned companies, the company behind another high-profile property venture, the Dubai World archipelago of artificial islands built off the emirate's coast.
The tower was opened by Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum with a spectacular fireworks display.
Its exact height had, officially, been a secret, with the Chicago architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill encouraged to keep building as high as they could.
It cost in excess of €1.1bn and is 1,046ft higher than the previous tallest occupied building, the Taipei 101.
It will contain more than 1,000 apartments, a hotel, and offices up to the 160th floor.
Financial analysts are looking forward to discovering how many have been let, and at what cost, given that property prices have halved in the city in the last year.
Concerns about Dubai's $100bn (€69bn) debt pile, which has made Dubai's stock exchange one of the world's worst performing, overshadowed the ceremony and boasts by the builder, Emaar Properties, that the Burj heralds a new dawn.
Even so, the tower is expected to be a big international draw in the years to come. Visitors prepared to pay around €19 will be able to see the whole "World" spread out at their feet. (© Daily Telegraph, London)