Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Nakheel Tower work halted for year

DUBAI // Construction work on the Nakheel Tower – a building that would soar more than 1km high to be the world’s tallest when completed – has been stopped for a year.

“Further work on the foundations of Nakheel Harbour and Tower will commence in 12 months,” said a Nakheel spokesman. “The foundation works are likely to take approximately three years to complete.”

A senior project manager said several employees working on the Dubai project had been laid off because “work has stopped until further notice”.

The stalling of the tower is the latest in a string of delays on Nakheel’s most prominent projects as a result of the slowdown in the property market.

Other developments that have been affected include the Trump International Hotel and Tower, Frond N villas, and Gateway Towers, as well as parts of the Waterfront and Palm Deira.

In late November, the company laid off 500 employees, about 15 per cent of its labour force, “in light of the current global market conditions”.

Developers across the UAE have said they were reviewing their projects and retrenching staff because of the sharp drop in sales. Residential property prices dipped 8 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Colliers International. Ian Albert, the consultancy’s regional director, said “tighter liquidity, selective lending and growing negative sentiment are all bringing about these changes”.

Dubai was not the only affected emirate. Aldar Laing O’Rourke, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi’s largest developer and a British construction company, announced last week it was cutting between 200 and 250 of its 1,900 professional employees because of the changed economic environment.

Under Nakheel’s plan, which was launched with a flashy ceremony at Cityscape Dubai in October, the multibillion-dirham tower would be the centrepiece of a 270-hectare marina development called Nakheel Harbour and Tower near Ibn Battuta Mall and the Arabian Canal.

The tower would have 200 floors and 150 lifts. It would have been surrounded by as many as 40 other buildings, ranging from 20 to 90 floors. The area would be home to 55,000 people and have enough offices for 45,000 people.

Nakheel officials said at the launching ceremony that the entire Nakheel Harbour and Tower project would take 10 years to complete in phases and require 30,000 labourers.

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