Completion of world’s tallest skyscraper delayed

The world’s tallest skyscraper under construction in the Gulf city-state of Dubai will take longer than planned to finish, its builders said on Wednesday, putting off the opening planned for the end of this year.

The Burj Dubai tower currently stands more than 500m tall. The state-owned developer Emaar Properties said completion will be postponed until sometime in 2009. It did not give specifics, but the newspaper Gulf News and the online news site ArabianBusiness.com said the delay will be four months.

”The company would rather opt for a nominal delay in total quality execution of the Burj Dubai … than compromise on any aspect of quality,” Emaar, one of the main builders in this Gulf boomtown, said in a press release without elaborating.

Emaar did not give the reason for the delay and the company’s representatives refused to answer calls on Wednesday.

The final height of Burj Dubai is a closely guarded secret. Emaar’s representatives previously said the tower would stop somewhere above 693m.

Last summer, the company said the skyscraper had reached 512m, surpassing Taiwan’s Taipei 101, which has dominated the global skyline at 508m since 2004.

When completed, the Burj Dubai will feature more than 160 floors, 56 elevators, luxury apartments, boutiques, swimming pools, spas, exclusive corporate suites, Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani’s first hotel, and a 124th-floor observation platform.

Emaar chairperson Mohammed Ali Alabbar recently said at a conference on tall buildings that ”quality is the first priority in the execution of Burj Dubai”. He also said that several designs for the building’s interior were ”rejected at various stages”, without mentioning the projects’ details and designers’ names.

Thousands of Asian workers are currently working on the skyscraper’s cladding. The €600-million Burj — the Arabic word for ”tower” — is in the heart of downtown Dubai, a 200ha development area worth €13-billion.

The downtown Dubai area will eventually have 19 residential towers, nine hotels, the Dubai Mall and a 12ha artificial lake.

Construction on the skyscraper, determined to break the world record in its climb to the sky, began in 2004. Work has been frenzied, with labourers working 24-hour days in three shifts. At times one storey was raised every three days.

The architects and engineers are American and the main building contractor is South Korean.

Dubai, one of the seven semi-autonomous emirates that make up this oil-rich Gulf nation, has commissioned the world’s top architects to dot this fast-growing city’s skyline with avant-garde structures previously unseen in the Middle East. — Sapa-AP

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