Dubai Mega Tower Last Hurrah to Age of Excess
By BRIAN MURPHY, Associated Press Writer Brian Murphy, Associated Press Writer – Wed Dec 2, 6:10 pm ET
That swagger seems positively old school these days. It's
been tripped up by a debt crunch that has humbled
It will be both a debutante bash for a new architectural
landmark and a farewell toast to
The Burj Dubai — a steel-and-glass needle rising more than a
half-mile (800 meters) — may be the last completed work from
If they are still considered at all.
World markets had known a day of fiscal reckoning was
creeping up on what was once the world's fastest-growing city, swelling from
about 700,000 in 1995 to more than 1.3 million today. But the depths of
The Burj Dubai gala is now a welcome diversion. And one without a direct political sting: the building was developed by Emaar Properties, a state-backed firm not linked to the current debt meltdown.
"This tower was conceived as a monument to
It's not the first time a skyscraper has gone up as the economy swooned.
But the Burj Dubai, or
The recession barged in last year and quickly dried up the cash flow.
The brakes also were slammed on hundreds of
Sheik Mohammed even has grown a bit testy over
Dubai's boosters hope the opening of the Burj Dubai — which include offices, residences and a hotel _will give them at least some respite from the bad news. The Dubai PR machine is working overtime.
A barrage of statistics — vital and trivial — are pouring
out as the $4.1 billion building gets its finishing touches: more than 160
stories topped by a spire that reaches a reported 2,684 feet (818 meters), well
above the runner-up skyscraper, Taipei 101 in Taiwan, at 1,671 feet (508
meters). The Burj has even pushed past other giant structures taller than
The Burj — designed by the Chicago-based architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill — is billed to have the world's fastest elevator at up to 40 mph (64 kph) and can be seen as far as 57 miles (95 kilometers) away. It takes three months just to clean all the windows.
But there's some facts that are still closely guarded, including how much of the office and residential space is leased and whether the financial meltdown will make the Burj another tower of debt.
The current price for purchase or rent, too, is also
unclear. It's certain, though, that it's gone down along with property prices
"Buildings like the Burj Dubai are born from the
optimism of the moment," said Carol Willis, director of The Skyscraper Museum in
The Burj Dubai also faces some location drawbacks that didn't burden Dubai's other signature structures, such as the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel and the Palm Jumeirah island that fans out into the Gulf. The Burj Dubai rises above a new annex of the city that was originally designed as a cluster of towers — which is now put on hold because of the economic crunch.
That leaves the Burj soaring above what amounts to high-priced empty lots.
But — for a moment at least — it will shift the spotlight
The rulers in more conservative
In the past few months, Abu Dhabi hosted its inaugural
Formula One race, won a global competition to host the headquarters of the new
International Renewal Energy Agency and announced a $1 trillion plan to upgrade
the city's roads, transportation and public venues. Also in the works are plans
for branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums and a
A fireworks show on Wednesday for the UAE's national day was
billed as the world's largest display, with 100,000 devices exploding over