Bourj Dubai stands tall

The ceremonies for the 818-metre-tall tower were led by Dubai’s ruler Shaikh Muhammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the architect of the emirate’s rapid rise from a pearl fishing port to a global player. An extravaganza featuring strobe lights and music combined with a narration of the history of the emirate and fountains shooting water high into the sky drew hundreds of dignitaries and thousands of Emiratis and residents of the United Arab Emirates, the seven-member federation to which Dubai belongs.

Bourj Dubai has 160 floors and boasts of the world’s highest observation platform, which is on the 124th level.  The tower has a hotel, shops, offices and apartments, working and living space for 12,000 people. It looms over a 500-acre development area               which has houses in the modern Emirati style, world’s largest mall, restaurants, and the handsome Souq al-Bahr, a traditional-type shopping centre. Muhammad Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties that built Bourj Dubai, said 90 per cent of the office and residential space had been sold, and that the company had made a profit of 10 per cent although he had expected to “break even”.  At present, only 10 per cent of the building is occupied, and the cost of accommodation has fallen by 50 per cent.
Work on the tower began in March 2005, engaging 12,000 workers from more than 100 countries, majority of whom from India. It took 22 million man hours to complete the construction.  The buttres sed outline of the tower was inspired by the Hymenocallis, a tall slender lily found in the desert.

January 4 was chosen for the ceremonies because it marks the fourth anniversary of the succession of Shaikh Muhammad. Before the 2008 global economic meltdown brought Dubai low, Bourj Dubai was a symbol of his vision for his nation.
Over the past 20 years, he has striven to transform Dubai, a Gulf emirate with no oil, into a financial powerhouse, commercial hub, IT centre and an up-market tourist destination.  He had largely succeeded until Dubai’s property market crashed, thanks to the global financial downturn. Today, Bourj Dubai is a symbol of the Emirate’s resilience and the determination of its rulers to return to solvency and growth.

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