Dubai, January 4: The world’s tallest building has officially opened in Dubai in a spectacular display of fireworks, light, and water.
The tower has been named the Burj Khalifa after the ruler of the neighbouring emirate of Abu Dhabi, whose multi-billion-dollar bailout helped Dubai’s biggest developer avoid a potentially disastrous debt default in November.
The naming of the tower was a surprise for many, as it had always been referred to as the Burj Dubai.
The opening was a public relations blitz designed to show that Dubai still is still an international hub of finance despite its problems.
The building’s owners say more than 90 per cent of space has been sold, but there is no indication of how many apartments or offices will be inhabited once its doors open in February.
The tower and surrounding development has cost about $22 billion to build.
The building has been dubbed a vertical city. It stands at more than twice the height of New York’s Empire State building, which itself was the world’s tallest structure for nearly 40 years.
The lavish opening celebrations may also have set a new record, with the world’s highest fireworks display and light show, as thousands of people nearly a kilometre below turned out to watch.
Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar properties which developed the Burj, says the building gives "hope and optimism".
"Crises come and go and the world has gone through two years of difficult times," he said.
"I hope that this is the beginning of a gradual move forward."
Architectural journalist Ruth Slavid says the Burj Khalifa will undoubtedly be the world’s tallest building for a long time to come.
"I think it gets to a stage when it does become self defeating, because even if technically you can build higher, why would you?" she said.
"You have such issues with transporting people up and down.
"You become so expensive that in the end, except as a sort of wonderful show off in an age of confidence which has now gone, why would you do it?"