The world’s tallest building is officially set to open today in Dubai. However the final height of the incredible Burj Dubai still remains a closely-guarded secret which won’t be revealed until tonight’s opening ceremony.
A select crowd of 6,000 are expected to attend the ceremony, when Dubai’s ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, is expected to make a triumphal ascent of the 169-floor spire-shaped tower, which stands out as Dubai’s most remarkable architectural achievement yet.
In fact, the Burj, which means Tower, reaches such a lofty height that a new word has been coined to describe its magnitude: “superscraper”, and can be seen over 60 miles away in Iran.
Believed to have a height of 818m, the flagship mega-project of Emaar Properties dwarfs what was previously the world’s tallest building, the 508m Taipei 101 in Taiwan, as well as the world’s tallest manmade structure, the 629m KVLY-TV mast in North Dakota. It is about twice the size of the Empire State Building.
The exterior is covered in about 26,000 glass panels – enough to cover 17 football pitches. It is so high, the temperature is roughly 10C cooler at the zenith than at the base.
Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, said Burj Dubai was “another demonstration of Dubai’s ability to achieve what few people thought possible”.
“The tower is a global icon,” he said. “It represents the determination and optimism of Dubai as a truly world city. It is a powerful symbol for the entire Arab world.”
“We weren’t sure how high we could go,” said Bill Baker, the building’s structural engineer. “It was kind of an exploration ... a learning experience.”
Around 12,000 people are expected to live and work in the tower which is part of a 500-acre development known as “downtown” Burj Dubai.
Whilst the Burj’s precise height won’t be revealed till tonight, it is believed to break at least 15 world records. These include being the tallest structure ever built, the tallest building with residential space, the world’s highest swimming pool (76th floor), highest observation deck (124th) and the most elevated place of worship – a mosque (158th).
The tower features three distinct identities. The lowest floors contain a 160-room Armani hotel. Above that are 900 residential apartments, also designed by Giorgio Armani. Above these are 37 floors of office space, plus a restaurant, a gym on the 123rd floor and a nightclub on the 144th.