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Dubai's towering achievement

January 4th, 2010
12:24 PM ET

The Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building, officially opens for business today. [cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/04/burj.art.jpg caption =" 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
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Dickman

    Arabs and their UNCREDITED WEALTH!!

    This "building" was designed by Europeans and built by Europeans.

    I don't any more explaining is necessary.

    January 4, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  2. Jesse James

    Being an American who has been to Dubai and has seen this monument up close, I first want to express how amazing it is to see in person and i want to congratulate the builders on their success.

    Having said that...

    dubai is an expensive city to say the least... AND it uses foreign laborers brought in to be paid next to nothing for back-breaking work. human traffic (sex slaves) is abundant but the country tends to look the other way.

    it's a shame that such a beautiful piece of architecture ended up being built by such a backwards country.

    January 4, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  3. nirain lobo

    Icon, without a doubt!!

    January 4, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Reply
  4. Miguel SUREDA

    If you look for beauty , this presosterous attention seeker is not the answer.

    Try something completely different.
    Antwerp in Flanders, Belgium for instance. Style ,charm, subtility and diamonds of course.

    I bet your wife would prefer that than one of the boring shopping centers of Dubai

    January 4, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Reply
  5. the greatest

    This proves that Allah is real. Dubai is the greatest country in the world. America has been defeated! Allahu Akbar!

    January 4, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  6. Ray

    It amazes me how some people in the West are consumed with so much jealousy and hate towards wealthy Arab countries. They fail to understand that these countries are major players in world economy.

    January 4, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  7. Manz

    Stop hating on the Arabs – and by the way, most Arabs don't have wealth. Dubai is an example of its leaders realizing that the natural resources that the UAE has is not infinite – therefore positioning the city as a financial hub/tourist destination is ideal for future purposes.

    Regarding the "backwards country" comment, it's true that there are certain areas that need to be addressed such as human rights, etc.. But we all need to realize that all of today's western powers experienced backward tendencies... not too long ago..

    January 4, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  8. Frank

    Dick'man – I didn't realize that the thousands of "Europeans" that you refer to as having built the Burg Dubai hail from countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and China and live mostly in the Al Quoz 12-per-room construction camps! Should they (or will they) all be returning to your home neighborhoods soon in Europe and show Europeans what courage and work toughness can produce ? Maybe these valuable workers can stay and the Europeans can leave ... :))

    January 4, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Reply
  9. Hoshi Siganporia

    I have read Dickman and Jesse James comments and can only say that these poor souls are still living in the good old times when Europe and America wielded global power and above all... respect!

    Things have changed today. It is countries like India, China, UAE, etc that are the new power blocs. These are beautiful countries and their people give respect and get respect in return.

    As for Dickman and Jesse James, one can only feel sorry for them as the only things they possess today are jealousy, hatred and contempt for those who are moving ahead of them.

    January 4, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  10. Das Goravani

    I sell software specifically to East Indians for it is a part of their religion, my software. So anyway, many of them live in Dubai, that have contacted me. They speak of passports being confiscated, prison like conditions, having to separate from families for 10 years to get the job, etc etc., all very miserable. I have heard the misery stories from Indians who work construction in Dubai for years and my heart has gone out to them. Where there is disrespect for others, you will certainly find it's by products on the human level.

    January 4, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  11. felix sabiniano

    for its magestic look its functionality remains to be satisfied. what have we achieved and proved after the completing the gigantic project? its a project that cater the rich thru the toiling of the poor labour. do they get credit for their back breaking contribution? will they ever be remembered? in this time of global financial crisis, its such a waste to occupy such a space. for sure it will be for a price to recover the debt of the emirate.

    January 4, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Reply
  12. Shaan Sachdev

    It is interesting to note the resentment that Westerners seem to reflecting towards Dubai and this incredible achievement.

    Cities around the world have been hit by the crisis, one triggered by a flawed mortgage system in the United States. Dubai was just one of them, and is working hard to keep out of it.

    While the country undoubtedly has opaque policies that render its judicial systems and humanitarian legitimacy questionable, calling it "backwards" is absurd and prejudiced. Indeed, their exploitation of workers is barely significant in comparison with the gross atrocities committed by the United States and its allies in the last decade.

    January 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  13. Andrew H

    Aspiring and actually building something that required dreams to even concieve of is a truthfully positive endeavor. Resenting another country's wealth that was arrived at by global market forces seems a bit petty.

    To cheer the construction of this magnitude can be done without all the angst, I think we can all agree that constructive forces are a far better result of funds than destructive ones.

    My conclusion: to see something 'new' in this architectural day in age is a feat in and of itself. While I wouldn't build my house in this shape, I think as a step towards progress in all it's forms (painful and pleasing) this building is iconic.

    January 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  14. MS

    My family lives in Dubai and I visited recently to see this fascinating monument up close. It is absolutely gorgeous, and takes your breath away from close quarters. I am Asian, and while I do believe that so-called developing countries like China and India will be the super-powers of tomorrow, I have to agree with Jesse James about human rights abuses that occur towards Asian migrant labor in the UAE. The laborers are housed in appalling circumstances and work in impossible circumstances (sandstorms, 50 degrees Celsius temperatures) and are paid a pittance. As I look at the Burj, I can't but imagine how many have suffered during its construction.

    January 4, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Reply
  15. Hmm I Wonder

    It will be interesting to see if Dubai and the UAE (in general) continue to prosper after all of is oil reserves are depleted. The UAE reles on imports from other coutries to survive. It must be noted, that there is a false sense of security within the UAE. There is much conflict in areas only 40 miles from its borders. Yeman,Iran,Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Beruit, etc...

    January 4, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Reply
  16. Larchitect

    The building is a design Masterpiece defying all current architectural trends.

    Along with the Emirates Towers, Dubai should be proud of its new spectacular addition to its skyline.

    January 4, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Reply
  17. Jamz

    Dubai forever!

    No time for haters. Eat your heart out!

    January 4, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  18. moe

    Today Dubai gives the world media and racists , the world's tallest middle finger.

    January 4, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  19. Steven R

    This endless race to build the tallest building seems pointless. Aside from bragging rights (temporarily) these structures are not very energy efficient. All that energy going to move water and people up 800+ meter.....for what? To show off how much money you can waste? Given that so many countries that were once well-off are now hurting, it's not wise for Dubai to squander it's limited oil wealth when the future may not necessarily be so rosy. And as the World Trade Center disaster showed,
    these buildings are big terrorist targets.

    As for those who say westerners are jealous- nope! We are watching
    the up and coming nations make the same mistakes we made at
    the same point, and though we try to warn them, they stubbornly
    insist on following the same road. They say we are trying to "keep them down". OK- do what you will- but don't say you weren't warned
    about the pitfalls.

    January 4, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  20. Dr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino

    CNN not too long ago informed the world that Dubai was virtually bankrupt. What are you crowing about in praising the inauguration of this monstrous structure? It might be the tallest building on the planet's surface. So what, if it rises on a pile of debt? I dislike the hubris that persists in such megalithic constructions amid worldwide poverty and privation. It is sheer indifference. And I dislike CNN immensely for giving it the glowing coverage that you chose to gave it. Please be more discriminating in the future

    January 4, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  21. Jeremiah Rosado

    You people are just jealous!
    Burj Dubai has beaten everything else on earth you know that and it scares you...

    Is the same story that ocured in New York during the depresion they built the chrysler building and shortly after they built the Empire State.
    You think that the worker from these two build's had a good pay? come on it was during the great depresion...

    So If you start thinking, you will instantly know that this is what it going with Dubai, Palm's, World Isalands, Burj al Arab & Burj Dubai and not least the Nakheel Harbour & Tower enevn taller than Burj Dubai...

    Greeting from Puerto Rico and congrats to the Sheik!!!!

    January 4, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Reply
  22. EJ

    If you got the money, you can flaunt it for everybody to see. If others get jealous, "eat your heart out" guys. I bet this building will take at least a decade before any country will attempt to build something taller. Though China can afford it, it would be pointless unless they want to sniff air pollution at a higher level.

    January 4, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Reply
  23. Mudiwa Marange

    The Tower of Babel...My people, get out of Babylon ....

    January 4, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Reply
  24. Narisha

    Give Czar what z his, concratz dubai. On anotha point of view, i thnk tha buildin aint green concious @ all n with tym, ts carbon foot-print will b a budden 2 tha city....

    January 4, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  25. KM

    I agree with Dr. Aquino that giving this the glory that it has been given under such debt and even though yes it is a beautiful structure, imagine what this money would've done for the poverty in Africa, or for the Palestinian refugees or all the other poverty striken countries who have children dying daily from hunger, poor health.Good for you Dubai but why can't we give all these billions where it really is needed.

    January 4, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Reply
  26. angie786

    FOR Mr. Dickman. FYI. Did you know that Two of the skyscrapers of Chicago, the John Hancock Center and the Sears Tower, were designed by a Muslim architect, Dr. Fazlur Rahman (from Bengladesh). This does not mean that you one should discredit Chicago skyscrapers saying that they were deisgned by a muslim Bengladeshi. I am sure tthose Europeans were paid an arm and a leg fo their services and had kept them busy in the global deep recession.

    January 4, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  27. Ibrahim Zubairu

    this building is a master piece, my hope is the it helps Dubai reverse it's debts in the opposite direction.
    the next one is coming up in my hometown, IYAMOYE(NIGERIA)
    JOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 4, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  28. Oluwashola Israel Adekunle

    I hope Dubai or other Nation who are interesting on this king of build are not trying to build another Towel of Babel ? Will all no what happen form the Bible story when the people of the past try that.

    January 4, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Reply
  29. Makizee

    Have they considered a perfect target of terrorism this building would be,The Planes don't have to decend too low..

    January 4, 2010 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  30. jeaninne

    this tower made by slaves of modern times.

    some paid properly, but most, especially workmen and women paid such meager salary and living in such terrible conditions with not enough food to keep them strong and health that illness has hit many.

    i know.
    i am an humanitarian who has spent considerable time in Dubai.working in health care. I have seen the real results of this achievement.....

    January 4, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Reply
  31. ogbuefi uchenna

    what a sight.i just hope the bad guys dont have other ideas.

    January 4, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Reply
  32. Nadir Muthu

    Having lived in Dubai all my life, I have seen sand turned into communities, office buildings, resorts et all.

    Property development was madness, it created artificial growth and increased inflation to levels that it was getting impossible to live there.

    Burj Dubai is by no means an ordinary feat. Few years ago, no one imagined that Dubai would have such a thing.

    It is unfortunate that the debt crisis has hit the world and Dubai is just one of the many countries that has been affected.

    No surprise in renaming it Burj Khalifa, everyone knows why that is!

    January 4, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  33. mohamed

    haters you can drink sea water

    it's you country ? it's your money ? so maybe you could find other things to comment

    dubai still after all a a good place to live , you talk about labour , no one force them to come to dubai

    January 4, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Reply
  34. Another Human

    Does anyone else think of the tower of Babel or is it just me?

    Interesting feat of engineering nonetheless.

    Congratulations.

    January 5, 2010 at 3:54 am | Reply
  35. Peter ekwu

    The purpose for the building is good and not evil.My Rev pastor Innocent use to say that whatever u criticise u cannot have or become.I like their guts,it's a good one.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:14 am | Reply
  36. Dr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino

    Right, Palm, the World - and now Burj. Are they occupied? Last time I checked, hardly anyone was, and Dubai was borrowing money to pay for these pointless ostentation. That is what is atrocious about this monstrous (not majestic) structure!

    January 5, 2010 at 5:31 am | Reply
  37. TCK

    Dickman: Firstly, teh Architects are NOT European. they are American. Get your geography right.

    Jesse James: Agree with your comment on HR, etc but UAE backwards is not really true. They have a long way to go. But donot forget, so did US, and EU. You cant really compare an established country that is 40 years onld with on that is 200 years or more old.

    Architecture: This is not really an innovative work of architecture. It is an innovative piece of engineering. The building lacks character and mass to have a significant urban presence. Plus, I do not agree with the architect's idea of urban placemaking. Massive expanses of mechanically ventilated chrystal palaces are a thing of the last millennium. (for example Patronas towers or Taipei 101 has more local character while being an international project)

    Economics: If this large structure is actually sustainable is a big question. It should not endup like the South China Mall (world's largest shopping mall but has 99% of the rentable area vacant)

    South Asia: Except for the US/EU firms like the architects providing the 'badge value' for the project, it is actually Sounth Asians that make these things a reality in the Middle East. Although, a lot of people would like to ignore this, it is a fact.

    CNN: your move to add reader comments at teh end of the news stories is very comendable. While I am not really a fan of CNN, I beleive you ready to hear what we have to say is an extremely good move towards democratisation of the news industry.

    January 5, 2010 at 6:58 am | Reply
  38. Hammad Al-Hammadi

    Burj Khalifa is the tallest man-made structure ever built. You guys should applaud us for this great achievement, and leave aside the hate and jealousy.

    January 5, 2010 at 8:30 am | Reply
  39. arvind pathak

    burz dubai or as named burz khalifa has served it's purpose to bring attention of the world for tourism &propagating dubai as a business center as hongkong is.with 10billion dollars influx there is a chance for the rest of the manmade islands bought by hollywood and other gliterrati,it may serve the ourpose and the farsight shown by rulers to plan for economy after the oilwells dryup in30plus years.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:00 am | Reply
  40. Abubakar Umar

    The Burj is a colossal waste of resources and arrogant display of wealth. It is a stark display of stupidity.

    January 5, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  41. Dickman

    FOR angie786: Sure, the Bangladeshi guy designed those, BUT, he would be in utter squalor living in some remote corner of the world, had not the British colonized and civilized that region.

    He is what he is today ALL due to Whites and colonialism. If you want to find out what Bangladeshis are LEFT ON THERE OWN, just take a flight and go to that 3rd world country called Bangladesh. Then you will know the difference between the presence of the White man with the absence of the White man.

    Please don't give nonsensical arguments about glorious Muslim civilizations in the middle ages. The only reason the Muslims were able create a civilization and conquer Spain was due to them getting hand on the GREEK scientific texts. They had to first translate them and OBTAIN THEIR (i.e. GREEK'S) KNOWLEDGE. Otherwise they would be nowhere.

    January 5, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Reply
  42. Kelly

    Man made buildings are achievements we can be proud of, but with all this monstrosity, destroys the balance between man and earth.

    We are all consumed by material things and by what society dictates.

    January 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  43. Amelia

    I dont like tall buildings or all this ego, but the fact is Dubai was built like a business. More annoying than the Euro trash that comes to live in the GCC because they have no talent and no real oppertunity in their own countries (Dickman?), is the American media that seems to ignore the big contributions that GCC money has made towards the US financial system. How quick we forget Citigroup groveling at Kuwaiti and Saudi Money, Morgan Stanley... Oh and dare we ask who's buying US T-bills these days?
    Better yet, take a picture of the waiting areas in front of the Soverign Welath Funds in Saudi or Kuwait or UAE or Qatar...

    January 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  44. Bravo!

    Bravo! for Arab Riche people ,it's nice for you guys to spend your money in building such big status ,and forget about many pour people in the word that need your money to help !!just see around your cities!!!

    January 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  45. Marky61

    I view the Burj as a human achievement, rather than a nationalistic one. Congratulations to all the engineers, architects and construction workers – from all over the world – who toiled in the relentless sun and heat to build it. The Burj helps our understanding of super-tall structures, and if it means we can go even taller, then let's do it. Mankind didn't get where it is today by thinking small.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Reply
  46. Adil Nasir

    With all this fan-fare, there is no mention of the toiling India, Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers who have worked 24/7 in most gruelling hot conditions in UAE for meager pay. The difference in the labor laws between the West and countries like UAE is that in UAE you can make labor work long and hard under very inhumane conditions. If you look at what this Emirate was in 1994 and what it is now, it is by a single accomplishment of the labor from third world countries. Buildings, freeways, entire cities have sprung up in a short span due to their hard work. If you see them during a normal work day you can see them toiling like ants at odd hours at night under bright lights, performing welding and other operations while the world rests and sleeps. However, there is very little recognition for these people. The entire MEast has a very important factor which has made it successful this far and it is labor from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Phillippines and many other countries. Let us not forget them on this day.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Reply
  47. steve parks

    wow!A lot of positive's and negative's flowing around.Even remarks of religion.It is a very fine building that was built.No question.And that an arab country built it is even more impressive.
    No,all of us in the USA are not jealous.We in the USA (atleast most of us)tend to keep to ourselves.We usually would not even think twice about what is happening in a small country like Dubai.But,good for them.And do not forget what the bible says.Europe will be the anti-christs superpower.So,will the USA fall.Yes,it will.But not completely.The military will back him when he comes.Watch out for our leaders who are intent on bringing world war 3.........the radical islamists are simply being used by them.Nothing more.Nothing less.Who do you think helped the 9-11 terrorists,hmmmm?

    January 5, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Reply
  48. crystal

    thats amazing all the hard work paid off. maye people around the word might want to come see the building.........i would go travel all the way there to go see it and explore it. : )

    January 8, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Reply
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    January 30, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Reply

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