Burj Dubai may have to top 500 metres

Emaar's mega project will have to outdo Petronas Towers and Shanghai World Financial Centre if it is to be the tallest building in the world.

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By  David Ingham Published  February 26, 2003

Emaar Properties’ ‘Burj Dubai’ will probably have to exceed 500 metres in height if it is to achieve its goal of being the world’s tallest building.

The real estate developer vowed earlier this week to construct the world’s tallest building in Dubai, at a location close to the Sheikh Zayed Road. No firm details are yet forthcoming, however, on exactly how tall the building will be, what the budget is or how the company will finance its construction.

A quick look around reveals that Burj Dubai will have to outdo Petronas Towers in Malaysia (452 metres) and the forthcoming Shanghai World Financial Centre, which should scrape 492 metres when it is completed in 2007.

Clouding the picture is the Taipei 101 Tower in Taiwan, currently under construction and which, its developer claims, will be 508 metres, when it is completed. That 508 metres includes a 60 metre tall antenna, however, which American designers do not consider as part of the height of the building.

There is also speculation that the reconstructed World Trade Centre Towers, whose design is very close to being unveiled, could be well in excess of 500 metres. One of two designs that are now being considered features a high rise that reaches 541 metres.

The cost of construction will also be staggering. Although no official figure has been given, Al Hayat newspaper reported that Burj Dubai has a budget of US $1 billion. In comparison, Petronas Towers is reported to have cost anywhere between US $1.2 billion and US $2.94 billion.

Emaar said in a statement that construction on Burj Dubai will begin this year and that land has already been donated by the Dubai government.

“Combining residential, commercial, hotel, entertainment and leisure outlets with open green spaces, water features, pedestrian boulevards, an old town and one of the world’s largest shopping malls, this project will create a new architectural landmark,” said Mohammed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar.

Observers might be temped to ask how Emaar, even at Dubai’s current rate of growth, is going to fill a building of such a size. Alabbar, however, seems to have no doubts about the viability of the project.

“It is a rational commercial response to the pipeline of large scale infrastructure developments in the country, which will bring a new professional community to the area,” he says. “This community will create a significant new demand in terms of both work, residential and leisure facilities and space. We are pre-empting that demand.”

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