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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 28 February 2021

Enter the Titan

Photo caption: Burj Dubai, the world's tallest building, seen Jan 3, 2010. Burj Dubai is over 800 metres (2,625 ft) tall and has more than 160 stores, the most of any building in the world. (AP Photo / Kamran Jebreili) 

Tonight is the official opening of the Burj Dubai, a tower that will easily sweep the title of tallest in the world. I argue that the hype you see in the newspapers and on TV today is perfectly justified. After all, we have hardly heard a word about the building for the last year and a half. Emaar Properties has kept such a tight lid on the project during construction that the building has become one of Dubai's greatest stories never told.

Ask any resident of the UAE and they will tell you that the Burj Dubai is an irresistible sight to behold. There are fair differences of opinion over the actual architecture and aesthetics, with some saying it is an elegant pinnacle and others describing it is a awkward amalgmation of cylinders. But there is no doubt that it is a behemoth - the kind of awe inspiring structure that feels truly of our time. It looks like one of the epic machines of German expressionist film Metropolis.

Here is a smattering of links of the best stories around the world about the Burj Dubai today.

* Most provocative and thoughtful is Christopher Hawthorne's discussion of the tower at the LA Times, where he describes the movement of architectural exuberance to Asia from North America and talks of the strange phenomenon of the tallest tower in the world that is mostly empty and will remain so for the near future (what he calls "architectural vacancy").

* Mohamed Alabbar gives a rare series of interviews to the national newspapers. The most thorough is this one from Wayne Arnold in The National. Also check out this one in Arabian Business.

* The National has a special section devoted to coverage of the Burj Dubai with links to everything from the engineering and design work to the story of one Indian man in Abu Dhabi who bought the whole 100th floor of the tower to use as a weekend get away and apartments for his friends and family to use when they visit.

* The Gulf News has a pretty cool video about preparations for the launch of the tower, showing guys abseiling from the top to install fireworks. Here is their full Burj Dubai coverage.

* MEED's Colin Foreman says in an editorial that the "The official opening is now more about Dubai trying to regain its previous optimism and ambition. Emaar Properties will be hoping the celebrations offer a chance to forget the past 12 months and start afresh."

* On the blogs, you will find a sweeping description of the tower and its importance to Dubai on Anwer Sher's blog (Mr Sher is a long time observer and resident of the UAE who is well worth keeping track of). Comparisons of the Burj Dubai and Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona at 37signals. Breathtaking shots from the top of the tower at Gizmodo. 

Published: January 4, 2010 04:00 AM

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