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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Tuesday's Connector of the Day – Ben Southall

January 4th, 2010
02:59 PM ET

Last year, Ben Southall became one of the most envied men on the planet.

In May 2009 he won the Queensland Tourism Board’s “Best job in the world” competition to become caretaker of Hamilton Island in the Great Australian Barrier Reef.

Ben Southall: life's a beach

Ben Southall: life's a beach

The 34-year-old staved off competition from 36,000 rival applicants to land what was billed as a dream job which included $120,000 salary for six months, use of a $4.5 million luxury beachside villa and the chance to work, live and explore the islands that surround one of the world’s most beautiful coastal locations.

It has since emerged that Southall found the job exhausting and far from a relaxing lucky break – he has confessed to working 19-hour days, seven days a week.

A grueling grind of promotional events involved visiting 90 "exotic locations," making 47 video diaries and giving more than 250 media interviews, including a chat with Oprah Winfrey.

During his last week in the job, after a post-Christmas jet-ski session, he was stung by a potentially deadly irukandji jellyfish. Luckily he was treated before symptoms developed into a life threatening condition.

True, he also learnt to sail, play golf and kayak, while he and his girlfriend were living in paradise, but in return he has posted more than 75,000 words in 60 separate blogs, uploaded more than 2000 photos and tweeted more than 730 times. So perhaps his position was well earned?

His employers were certainly happy: Tourism Queensland has offered him a new 18-month, six-figure contract to promote their state worldwide.

Would you swap your life for his?

Ben Southall is our connector of the day on Tuesday. Post your questions for him here and we’ll put a selection to him on the show

Dubai's towering achievement

January 4th, 2010
12:24 PM ET

The Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building, officially opens for business today.

 The Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building, is opening for business this week.

The Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building, is opening for business this week.

Stretching over half a mile high, the skyscraper literally towers above the previous record holder, Taiwan’s 508 meter tall Taipei 101.

The 818 meter tall spike of steel and glass now piercing the skyline is the centerpiece of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s plans to transform Dubai into the Middle East’s premier business hub.

Dubai’s extraordinary building boom has rarely been out of the headlines in recent years as man-made islands, indoor ski slopes and shopping malls have all been created on an epic scale.

But despite criticisms over migrant worker conditions and environmental issues which have dogged construction the Burj Dubai is undoubtedly an extraordinary feat of engineering.

The building’s architects, Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, describe the Burj as "a bold global icon that will serve as a model for future urban centers."

Its 160-plus storeys experience different climatic conditions – the top of the building is ten degrees Celsius cooler than the bottom.

But the chilly economic conditions sweeping through Dubai – last month the emirate had to accept a $10 billion bail out from its neighbor Abu Dhabi – have put a sizable dent in Dubai's ambitions.

Far from serving as a model for future urban development – as its architects claim – will the Burj Dubai instead be remembered as a towering monument to the excess of the decade just passed?

Whatever it’s cultural  significance, its place in construction history seems assured as engineers look to apply the lessons learnt in building the Burj Dubai to build even higher.

So how high can buildings get? And how high do we really want or need to go? Is it an icon or an eyesore? We would like to hear your views on Dubai’s new skyscraper. Post your comments below.


Filed under:  General