DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Dubai opened the world's tallest skyscraper Monday in a blaze of fireworks, then added a final flourish: It renamed the half-mile-high tower for the head of neighboring Abu Dhabi, whose billions bailed out Dubai amid last year's financial crisis.
Long known as Burj Dubai — Arabic for "vertical city" of luxury apartments and offices and a hotel designed by Giorgio Armani also plans to have the world's highest mosque (158th floor) and swimming pool (76th floor)." — the building rises 2,717 feet (828 meters) from the desert. The $1.5 billion "
Its backers wanted the skyscraper to be a monument to the boundless, can-do spirit of Dubai — one of a federation of seven small sheikdoms that make up the Dubai collapsed by nearly half in the past year, the result of easy credit and overbuilding during a real estate bubble that has since burst.— but the timing could not be worse. Property prices in parts of
Riding to the rescue was Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the ruler of oil-rich neighbor Abu Dhabi, which pumped tens of billions of dollars into Dubai last year as it struggled to pay enormous debts.
As officials opened the tapering metal-and-glass spire with fireworks and multicolored lights, they unexpectedly announced it would be renamed
to honor the Abu Dhabi leader who is also president of the UAE.
The exact number of floors for the Burj Khalifa is not known, and could reflect how the developer chose to calculate the total.
Mohammed Alabbar, chairman of the tower's developer, initially said Monday it had "more than 200" stories, but he later backtracked to more than 165 inhabitable floors, given its tapered top. Promotional materials sent before the tower's opening said it contained 160 stories.
Dubai has not been a target of terrorist attacks or threats that have been made public.
The tower was designed by Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which has a long track record in engineering some of the world's tallest buildings, including the Willis Tower.
Ahmed Elghazouli, a professor of structural engineering at Imperial College London who was not involved with the Burj's construction, said such groundbreaking buildings typically employ some of the world's best engineers, and go through more rigorous testing and require more studies during design than standard towers.
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