Saturday, February 2, 2008

Dubai's real estate ambitions soar higher

DUBAI - Even as this west Asian metropolis awaits the completion of the Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building, towards the end of this year, work on its rival, also in Dubai, has started. French firm Solantache Bachy has started work on the building, tentatively named Al Burj or “Tall Tower”, being developed by the Dubai government-owned real estate giant Nakheel, according to local media reports.

When completed, the Al Burj will be over a kilometre tall and will compete with Emaar Properties’ Burj Dubai, which is unofficially the tallest manmade structure in the world as of now. Though Emaar has kept the Burj Dubai’s final height a closely guarded secret, it is expected to be 900 metres tall when completed.

Although the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat officially recognizes the height of a building only when it is completed, the Burj Dubai, being built at a cost of $4.2 billion, surpassed the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, as the world’s largest free-standing structure in September last year. A spokesman for Nakheel told Construction Week magazine that Solantache Bachy has started testing work on the site of the Al Burj.

Previous reports suggested that Nakheel would officially unveil the project by announcing the award of the contract in March, but another Nakheel official told the Arabian Business website that a more realistic date would be towards the end of the first half of this year. Initial designs show the Al Burj as having all of 228 floors with a four-level basement and one service sub-level. According to Construction Week, the total built up area will be 1.49 million square metres, with 492,000 square metres of usable space. The development will house offices, apartments and hotels.

The highest habitable floor will be at 850 metres, which will be topped by a 200-metre central spire with a three-level function area and three service floors.Though the super-tall structure was originally proposed to be built in the Dubai Waterfront area, the location has now been moved to between Jumeirah Lake Towers and Ibn Battuta Mall on Sheikh Zayed Road, an area marked by a large number of skyscrapers.

Meanwhile, head of Nakheel’s building division Robeert Lee told local media in an interview that the Al Burj would be a combination of offices and residential apartments.

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