By Sarah Gordon www.dailymail.co.uk
As the tallest building in the world opened to great fanfair in Dubai yesterday, the struggling emirate was well aware that it owed a big thank you to its oil rich neighbour.
The thanks came in the form of a naming ceremony, Dubai’s ruler renamed the previously-known Burj Dubai the Burj Khalifa.
Just last month the tower’s namesake and leader of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan, bailed out indebted Dubai to the tune of $10bn – £6.13bn.
Now the needle-shaped skyscraper which stands more than 800 metres tall and can be seen from 95 kilometres away and was to be the jewel in Dubai’s crown, is a stark reminder of the debt the emirate owes its neighbour.
Construction of the tower began in 2004 at the height of Dubai’s boom, but in the last month building has ground to halt across the emirate as funds dry up.
But, although much of the office space in the tower remains empty and many parts of the building are not yet finished, owners of the Burj Khalifa are determined it will stand for the luxury and excess Dubai has become known for.
The building boasts the world’s first Armani hotel on the bottom floors, it also houses 900 Dubai residences, 37 floors of office space, a fine dining restaurant and an observation deck.
The structure, whose final height was revealed yesterday to be 828m, is far taller than the previous record holder, Taipei 101 and brings records galore to the UAE.
As well as being the tallest building in the world, it also has the most stories and highest occupied floor of any building in the world, and ranks as the world’s tallest structure. Visitors can look out from the highest observation deck in the world on the 124th floor.
‘We weren’t sure how high we could go,’ said Bill Baker, the building’s structural engineer. ‘It was kind of an exploration…a learning experience.’
The tower itself is reported to have cost $1.5 billion – £925 million – and the celebration of a laser show and fireworks seemingly shooting out of the building itself, was a suitable grand way to welcome its opening.
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum led the official opening which saw VIPs able to access the observation deck on the 124th floor.
Members of the public can experience a taste of the high life from today, ascending to the deck in the longest lifts in the world which will take two minutes to travel 504 metres.
For those with deep pockets, the Armani Hotel designed by Giorgio himself, will have eight restaurants, a spa, a luxury chocolate shop and florists as well as an Armani galleria when it finally opens.
To ignite oublic interest in the tower, its owner have released some facts and figures about the amount of work and materials that went into its construction.
The tower’s glass and steel exterior would apparently cover 17 football fields if laid out flat and will take some poor workers between six and eight weeks to clean.
The concrete used in the core of the building could build a pavement 1,283 miles long and the cooling system produces enough condensation to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools a year. It’s a good thing those eco-conscious developers will be using the waste to water the grounds.
Work on the Burj Dubai began in 2004 and continued rapidly. At times, new floors were being added almost every three days, reflecting Dubai’s raging push to reshape itself over a few years from a small-time desert outpost into a cosmopolitan urban giant packed with skyscrapers.
By January 2007, thousands of laborers, many of them brought in on temporary contracts from India, had completed 100 stories.
To ensure the tower doesn’t twist or break during bad weather, it is built in a Y-shape, with three ‘wings’ evenly distributing the building’s weight.