The tallest building in teh world is set to be opened in the Arab emirate of Dubai amidst a continuing economic crisis that is making real estate hard to sell even in the oil rich, Arabic Gulf region. Nevertheless the Burj Dubai opens 90 percent occupied.
The huge tower consisting of offices, apartments, and other space has a reported height of 2684 feet, taking the pride of place as the world’s tallest building from the Taipei 101 building in Taiwan, which is 1667 feet high. The Burj Dubai started construction in 2004 and rose rapidly, with occasionally new floors being added every three days.
The inauguration of the new tallest building in the world in the Arab emirate of Dubai suggests a number of things.
First, even though real estate prices have collapsed in Dubai, the opening of the Burj Dubai represents a faith in the future that is breath taking to watch as the world remains in the grips of an economic downturn. Many buildings in Dubai remain empty, the victims of overbuilding during the last oil fueled real estate boom. The Burj Dubai suggests that while the present is difficult, the future remains bright.
The fact that the world’s tallest building is about to be opened in a desert emirate suggests something else, not so flattering to the West. Times past, the honor of having the tallest building in the world lay with the United States. The Empire State Building, built rapidly during the grip of the Great Depression, held that pride of place for decades. The World Trade Center, in bitter irony, was also once the world’s tallest building, as was also Willis Tower, the building formerly known as the Sears Tower in Chicago.
Contrasting with the relatively quick construction of the Burj Dubai is the slow process of replacing the World Trade Center with a 1776 foot tall building formerly (and still popularly) known as the Freedom Tower, but now officially One World Trade Center. The design of One World Trade Center was mired with political controversy and other delays. Construction did not even start until 2006, five years after 9/11, and completion is not expected until 2018 by some estimates, though that is disputed by the New York Transit Authority. One World Trade Center was once going to be the world’s tallest building, but has since been displaced by the Burj Dubai.
What does it say about the West, especially the United States, when countries like Malaysia, China, Taiwan, and now Dubai can build dizzying tall buildings in relatively short order, about five to seven years on average, while One World Trade Center may take a dozen years to build? What does that say about how politics affects commerce in the United States?
The answers to these questions may not be very comforting.
Source: Dubai opening world’s tallest building amid crisis, Adam Schreck, AP, January 4th, 2009