Dubai inaugurated the world’s tallest skyscraper on Monday, hoping to shift international attention away from the Gulf emirate’s deep financial crisis and rekindle the optimism that fuelled its turbocharged growth.
As crews rushed to complete the final preparations for the official opening of the more than 160-story Burj Dubai Monday evening, the developer announced about $1.5-billion to build. That comes out to more than $9-million per floor.
The exact final height of the tower has not been released, with the developer Emaar Properties saying only that the spire stands more than 800 meters tall. Mohammed Alabbar, Emaar’s chairman, said Dubai’s ruler will announce the height at the evening inauguration ceremony.
Mr. Alabbar said the landmark glass-and-metal clad tower is 90 per cent sold in a mix of residential units, offices and other space, offering a counterpoint to Dubai’s financial woes. The Gulf boomtown is now mired in debt and many buildings sit largely empty – the result of overbuilding during a property bubble that has since burst.
Still, the tower’s developer and other officials were in a festive mood, focusing on the city-state’s future potential rather than past missteps.
“Crises come and go. And cities move on,” Mr. Alabbar told reporters before the inauguration. “You have to move on. Because if you stop taking decisions, you stop growing.”
At a reported height of 818 metres, the Burj Dubai long ago vanquished its nearest rival, the Taipei 101 in Taiwan..
The building boasts the most stories and highest occupied floor of any building in the world, and ranks as the world’s tallest structure, beating out a television mast in North Dakota. Its observation deck – on floor 124 – also sets a record.
“We weren’t sure how high we could go,” said Bill Baker, the building’s structural engineer, who is in Dubai for the inauguration. “It was kind of an exploration. … A learning experience”
Mr. Baker, of Chicago-based architecture and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, said early designs for the Burj had it edging out the world’s previous record-holder, the Taipei 101, by about 33 feet (10 meters). The Taiwan tower rises 508 metres.
Dubai’s ruler will open the tapering metal-and-glass spire with a fireworks display Monday evening. Cleaning crews were busy scrubbing windows and sweeping the plaza at the tower’s base just hours before festivities began.
Security is expected to be tight. Local newspapers quoted Maj. Gen. Mohammed Eid al-Mansouri, head of the protective security and emergency unit for Dubai Police, saying more than 1,000 security personnel, including plainclothes police and sharpshooters, will be deployed to secure the site for the opening.