Sunday, October 5, 2008

Nakheel announces kilometre high skyscraper

The structure will be the centre-piece of an inner-city harbour set to become the emirate's new, unofficial capital

After more than three years on the drawing board, Nakheel has announced that it is to build a skyscraper that will be more than one kilometre high, the tallest in the world — but only minutes down the road from the current tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai.

The tower will be the centrepiece of the Nakheel Harbour and Tower development, which is planned close to Ibn Battuta shopping mall on the Sheikh Zayed Road.

Industry insiders have said that the tower could reach as high as 1.4 kilometres when finished, making it almost double the height of Emaar Properties’ Burj Dubai, which is expected to reach over 800 metres when completed towards the end of next year.

Nakheel declined to disclose the cost of the tower, which has been designed by Australian architects Woods Bagot, or the overall value of the development, which will include 40 other towers of between 20 and 90 floors, along with a canal system and harbour.

“It will truly be a magnificent engineering feat,” said Chris O’Donnell, the chief executive of Nakheel.

Foundation work on the tower is already under way and is expected to take three years to complete.

Nakheel will finance the development through a combination of pre-sales of apartments, the sale of 270 hectares of land surrounding the project and bank loans.

Despite the global credit crunch and a slowdown in financing for construction projects, Mr O’Donnell said he was confident that the project would be built successfully, owing to the fact it would be developed over 10 years. “What’s happening globally is just a normal economic cycle,” he said.

“There might be a slowdown but there definitely won’t be a crash as the fundamentals of the Middle East market are just too strong. A building project of this type was always going to take 10 years, and we will monitor the economic climate over that period when determining funding for the project.”

Mr O’Donnell added that the current global economic slowdown would result in a more discerning investor.

“Dubai has matured rapidly and property buyers are becoming increasingly discerning. They will choose to buy property that is by the water, close to transport hubs or within an iconic project,” he said

“In these times there will also be a flight to quality.”

But Nakheel could be outshone in the next few days at this week’s Cityscape if Meraas, the private equity firm of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announces its tall tower. An advertisement on the Cityscape website yesterday showed a teaser image of the Atrium City Tower, a design by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill that would rise higher than any tower ever built.

Other tall towers planned for the Middle East include a kilometre-high tower in Saudi Arabia, along with another kilometre-high tower in Kuwait’s City of Silk development.

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