Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New 1km-High Nakheel Tower Beats Burj Dubai's 688m

Source : The Business Times, October 7, 2008

Taking 10 years to complete, building's final height is secret

(DUBAI) With its world's tallest building nearing completion, Dubai said on Sunday that it is embarking on an even more ambitious skyscraper: one that will soar more than a kilometre into the air.

Skyhigh ambitions: Nakheel chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem unveiling plans to build a skyscraper that will soar more than a kilometre into the air and take more than a decade to complete

That's the height of more than 10 American football fields, 13 Airbus A380 'superjumbo' jets or three of New York's Chrysler Buildings stacked end-to-end.

'This is an unbelievably groundbreaking design,' chief executive Chris O'Donnell said during a briefing at the company's sales centre, not far from the proposed site. 'This still takes my breath away.'

The tower, which will take more than a decade to complete, will be the centrepiece of a sprawling development that state-owned builder Nakheel plans to create in the rapidly growing 'New Dubai' section of the city. Foundation work has already begun, Mr O'Donnell said.

The area is located between two of the city's artificial palm-shaped islands, which Nakheel also built. The project will include a man-made inland harbour and 40 additional towers up to 90-floors high.

About 150 elevators will carry employees and workers to the Nakheel tower's more than 200 floors, the company said. The building will be composed of four separate towers joined at various levels and centred on an open atrium.

'It does show a lot of confidence in this environment' of worldwide credit problems and a souring global economy, said Marios Maratheftis, Standard Chartered Bank's Dubai-based regional head of research.

As part of government-run conglomerate Dubai World, Nakheel has played a major role in creating modern-day Dubai, a city that has blossomed from a tiny fishing and pearling village into a major business and tourism hub in a matter of decades.

Besides the growing archipelago of man-made islands for which it is best known, Nakheel is responsible for a number of the city's malls, hotels and hundreds of apartment buildings.

The company said that the new project is inspired by Islamic design and draws inspiration from sites such as the Alhambra in Spain and the harbour of Alexandria in Egypt.

'There is nothing like it in Dubai,' said Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Nakheel's chairman.

Perhaps not quite. But Dubai is already home to the world's tallest building, even if it remains unfinished.

That skyscraper, the Burj Dubai, or Dubai Tower in Arabic, is being built by Nakheel's chief competitor Emaar Properties.

Emaar has kept the final height of the silvery steel-and-glass tower a closely guarded secret, saying only that it stood at a 'new record height' of 2,257 feet (688m) at the start of last month. It's due to be finished next September.

The final height of Nakheel's proposed tower is likewise a secret, as is the price tag. The company would only say it will be more than a kilometre tall.

Mr O'Donnell said that he was confident that Nakheel could pay for the project despite the financial troubles roiling the world's economy.

He also brushed aside concerns by some analysts that Dubai's property market is becoming overheated and due for a potentially sharp correction.

'In Dubai, demand outstrips supply,' he said. 'There might be a slowdown, but there definitely won't be a crash.' - AP

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