An owner is eager to claim 'top of the world' apartment

Businessman Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty bought all of the 100th floor of the Burj Dubai for Dh45m.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - December 31, 2009: Dr B. R. Shetty, Managing Director and CEO of NMC Group (NMC Specialty Hospital, UAE Exchange, Neopharma) sits for a portrait in his office. 
( Ryan Carter / The National ) *** Local Caption ***  RC004-DrShetty20091231.jpg
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DUBAI // Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty's voice swells with pride as he enunciates his new address: "100th floor, Burj Dubai." It is, he notes, "a unique address that the world will recognise. That would be my address and it is a great one". Mr Shetty, the founder and managing director of the New Medical Centre (NMC) group of hospitals, bought the entire 100th floor of the world's tallest tower. He intends to turn the property into guest houses for friends and family.

Mr Shetty said that once the concrete of his new property had been laid, he became one of the first people to enter the building and get a sneak preview of its vast interior and panoramic views. "It was fantastic, that is all I can say," he said. "It was a lot of money for me to invest at that point. However, I can say now that the project is excellent and I am proud of it." Not many people have a view from 100 storeys up. His apartments are more than halfway up the tower.

"We can see everything as if you are on the top of the world," he said. "I had no fear when I was up there. Even reaching my apartment takes less than a minute in the elevator." Mr Shetty, whose NMC group has diversified into sectors such as financial services, restaurants, hospitality and engineering projects, said he was anxious to get the keys to his new apartments. "I hope to get possession at the earliest after the launch," he said, adding that he had not yet heard from the management about a handover.

The Indian expatriate said he purchased the 100th floor for Dh3,000 (US$860) per square foot a few years ago. At more than 15,000 square feet, the sale price for the 100th floor would have been in the neighbourhood of Dh45m. "I was invited to see the property and extended the offer, which I accepted," he said. He said that 90 per cent of the payment had been completed and he would pay the remainder after receiving the keys.

Mr Shetty also owns apartments on the 141st floor which he plans to convert into business offices. "I have been getting a lot of offers from buyers who are willing to buy this property for a lot more money," he said. "However, I will never sell this property. It is the tallest tower in the world now and I would like to be associated with it." The mixed-use Burj Dubai tower, scheduled to open today, is expected to house more than 12,000 people when fully occupied.

Emaar, the developer, said the handover of properties to residents would begin in February. The swanky Armani Residences on levels nine to 16 will open their doors first, to be followed by the Armani Hotel Dubai, which occupies the concourse to level eight, and levels 38 and 39. The hotel would be unveiled to guests in March, according to Emaar. Mr Shetty's property on the 100th floor is part of The Residences 900 flats ranging from studios to four-bedroom apartments spread over levels 19 to 108.

Deisgner Nada Andric of the Chicago-based architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was behind the look of the tower's interiors. Ms Andric said the design is "mindful of the building's prominent international address and its true purpose as home to a number of people", adding that she was "inspired by the fascinating local culture and the challenge of enhancing the value of a global landmark".

Residents of these apartments can reach exclusive sky lobbies on levels 43, 76 and 123 that include fitness facilities, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, jacuzzis and a recreation room for gatherings and events. Other facilities include a residents' library, a cigar club, and Burj Dubai Gourmet Market, a high-end convenience store, and a meeting room. Valet parking will be provided for guests and visitors.

The Corporate Suites, a collection of high-end offices, will occupy 37 floors. The entrance is from the tower concourse. Express lifts take visitors directly to the lounge lobby at level 123. The developers said the handover of these properties would begin in March and would take from two to six months. When asked if he would move from his present home in Abu Dhabi to his 15,000 square feet on the 100th floor of the Burj Dubai, Mr Shetty said: "When I came from India I landed in Abu Dhabi. I have not moved from there and do not intend to do so.

"However, it is a privilege to have a home in Burj Dubai and I will keep visiting it."