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The Burj Dubai, the world's tallest skyscraper, opened to the public Monday.  (Source: Wall Street Journal)

The opening was capped by an impressive nightime lightshow, complete with 10,000 fireworks.  (Source:
New tallest building easily surpasses the previous giant's 500+ meter mark

The Burj Khalifa ("Khalifa Tower" in Arabic), formerly known as Burj Dubai, is a marvel of modern engineering and architecture.  Under construction since September 2004, the massive tower was finally completed this year and on Monday opened to the public for the first time, allowing it to officially claim the title of the world's largest supertall building.  The world is now free to marvel at the tower which is located in Dubai.

Standing at approximately half a mile high, the tower's 828 meter estimated height easily outdoes the previous record holder -- the 509 meter Taipei 101, located in Taiwan.  The new record holder's principal builder was the South Korean Samsung C&T, who also built the Taipei 101 and the Petronas Twin Towers.

The tower features nearly 3.6 million square feet and cost the Dubai sheikdom an estimated $20B USD.  The building project was masterminded by Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the city-state's 60-year-old hereditary leader.

Saud Masud, head of research at UBS AG in Dubai said the tower was designed to help Dubai "stay in the limelight as home to a global landmark."

Hopes are high amid trouble in the region.  Worldwide, the sheikdom has garnered criticism for its profiteering on high oil prices in the 90s and current decade.  At the same time it suffered substantial loss of wealth during the recent recession with November bringing the announcement that one of nation's largest government-owned conglomerates could not repay its debts, news that sent shockwaves through the global investing economy.

Despite over $80B USD in debt and the expectation that Dubai real estate prices could drop 30 percent in 2010, after falling 50 percent in 2009, the sheikdom is looking to spare no expense at the tightly secured grand opening ceremony today.  The opening ceremony is said to involve 10,000 fireworks.

While Dubai has suffered financially, its southern neighbor Abu Dhabi has thrived, wisely reinvesting oil profits and largely weathering the recession.  Sheik Mohammed turned to Abu Dhabi for financial assistance.  The fellow emirate lent Sheik Mohammed an undisclosed amount, helping to reduce his emirate's debt burden and continue with ambitious construction projects like the Burj Khalifa.

Dubai now turns its attention to the upcoming Nakheel Towers, a new skyscraper, currently under construction, which aims to reach 1 kilometer high.  A similar kilometer-high tower, the Burj Mubarak is being built in Kuwait.

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You won't see such buildings in the US anymore
By corduroygt on 1/5/2010 10:47:37 AM , Rating: 3
1. Because you won't find skilled laborers willing to work for $4/day.
2. Because permits and environmental issues will tie up construction and baloon costs.
3. The US is the kind of country they send 4 men and a digger to dig a hole in the pavement, and while one man uses the digger to dig the hole, the other 3 watch.

By superkdogg on 1/5/2010 11:13:56 AM , Rating: 4
But most importantly because it's not cost effective, they can't fill occupancy, and the US has enough landmarks.

By ExarKun333 on 1/5/2010 11:43:11 AM , Rating: 3
Skyscrapers are costly, unsafe during a disastor, and the US has a lot of space to build more "campus-like" HQs in most areas.

By Omega215D on 1/6/2010 5:08:23 AM , Rating: 2
Well, except in NYC. We are quickly running out of space and are building up even higher and that's outside of Manhattan.

By mindless1 on 1/6/2010 7:15:41 AM , Rating: 2
Nonsense. You won't see building like that because buildings like that are not desirable except as an amusement to draw in foreigners. The US needs no such icon in the desert to do THAT, just dropping the border patrol would be more than enough.

As volatile as the US economy is long-term, watch and see what happens in Dubai. It's non-sustainable and a silly tower in the desert won't be anything but a mark of stupidity when they can't afford water anymore and disease is rampant.

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