Tall, Taller and MONUMENTAL!

Babylon inspired tower

Architectural rendering of the yet to-be-named Babylon-inspired tower in Dubai

August 2016  ~  In 2008, the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, was asked why he insisted that his emirate’s construction projects be the world’s biggest, tallest, most extravagant, and off-the-chart architectural and engineering marvels on the planet. His answer: “Why settle for less when you can be #1?” Astute point. Dubai’s unique projects are an economic engine and a proud symbol of the emirate’s economic and cultural stature in the world community. His philosophy works.

However, prior to the 2009 completion date of Dubai’s Burj Al Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world, plans for taller buildings were underway. If and when one of these plans is realized, the Burj Al  Khalifa will be demoted to almost-as-tall.

One of the proposed projects is another monolith in Dubai. Emaar, coincidentally Dubai’s developer of the Burj Al Khalifa, announced in April that it will soon break ground on a Babylon-inspired skyscraper that is engineered to be a “notch” taller than the current record holder. Its design is an architectural wonder as unique as Dubai’s 7-star Burj hotel with its immense sail. Completion of the skyscraper is planned to coincide with Dubai Expo 2020.

Jiddah Tower - Saudi Arabia

Jiddah Tower – Saudi Arabia

But get this! Jiddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, is already up to the 42nd floor as of June 2016 and scheduled for completion in 2020. Formerly named Kingdom Tower and Mile-High Tower, Jiddah Tower is located at the Red Sea port of Jeddah, gateway to the holy city of Mecca. The MONUMENTAL skyscraper will soon shred the record book by adding another 21% to the height of Dubai’s current record holder!  1,000 m/3,280 ft. compared to 828 m/2,717 ft.

Designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Hill Architects, the $2 bil project’s main contractor is Saudi’s Binladen Group. Adrian Smith has designed 4 of the world’s 11 tallest buildings, including the Burj Al Khalifa.

Conversation points:
There will be 252 floors.
One floor is completed every 6-8 days, and currently being ramped up to one every 5 days.
The quantity of concrete to be incorporated in the tower could build 6 Hoover dams.
The amount of steel could build 8 Eiffel Towers.

But wait! It gets crazier. Sky Mile Tower in Tokyo is possibly next in line for tallest building in the world. It has been designed to reach 1,600 m/1 mile – twice (!!!) the height of the Burj Al Khalifa, and be completed in 2045. Granted, that is 29 years from today; new engineering and construction technology will have evolved; economic and political hiccups will more than likely muddy the waters; and plans can be modified or shelved. With the world’s population living in cities forecast to double by 2050, Sky Mile Tower is designed with foresight to house 55,000 people.

Imagine standing on one of the top floors during an earthquake. Whooooa …..


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The absence of dignity and integrity …….. by a few of the leading candidates …….

The absence of dignity and integrity as displayed in dialogue by a few of the leading candidates running for the U.S. presidency is overwhelmingly alarming to the lions’ share of our international colleagues who are savvy in world affairs. I share this first-hand insight not to be judgmental or personally degrade a presidential candidate, but to present a viewpoint to those who might otherwise not be aware of the strong feelings that persist among many educated foreigners.

I have been asked by friends, colleagues and dignitaries during my recent visit to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and while in attendance at a conference in S. California last week, which included 200 predominantly international individuals spanning six continents, how such a great country as ours has allowed its reputation to be compromised by candidates’ petty and vicious political rhetoric and does not sensibly focus on major issues facing our country and others.

Regardless of political affiliation, Mr. Trump has been the media-fed target of greatest concern in unsolicited feedback from a cross-section of well-informed individuals because of his hot-headed, unapologetic, egocentric personality and perceived lack of knowledge in both domestic and U.S. foreign policy, and because of the anxiety of possibly having a reactionary Commander-in-Chief. Of no surprise, concern was expressed concerning his ethnic profiling and vacillating stances on issues that run counter to the principles and free society upon which our country operates, and principles which are admired internationally. Comments have included Mr. Trump’s seeming inability to complete a sentence without an explosive inclusion and without continuity of subject matter – perceived to be unsuitable characteristics for the leader of the U.S.

When Mr. Trump called for banning Muslims from entering the U.S. last December, ripple effects were felt within Islamic countries which, incidentally, happen to include approximately 1.5 billion Muslims, or 21% of the global population. As an example, and as reported in Dubai’s Gulf News, Damac Properties, one of the largest developers in Dubai with 2015 revenues of US$2.3 billion, is currently developing an upscale residential community in Dubai that was named Trump International Golf Club until three days after his comments. The Trump name was removed from a stone wall at the entrance to the project and images of Mr. Trump were removed from a nearby billboard.

Yes, it is frustrating, even embarrassing, to listen to remarks from citizens from other countries that question, both subtly and vehemently, the integrity of a future leader of the free world.

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Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team won the 2014-15 Volvo Around-the-World Ocean Race

SDC11703Considered the world’s toughest sailing race, Azzam (Arabic for ‘determination’) crossed the finish line in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 11 June after covering approximately 39,000 miles that required nearly 9 exhausting months to complete. The race began in Alicante, Spain, on 4 October and included stops in 11 ports. The 7 international teams, each carrying a standard crew of 9, competed on 65 foot, ultra-fast, one-design, state-of-the-art sailboats.

Congratulations to the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team! The next race is in 3 years — 2017-18.

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July 29, 2015 · 5:27 pm

Dubai is the most expensive city in the world to buy dinner, according to TripAdvisor.com and Ipsos, and the 9th most expensive holiday destination in the world. [Business Travel Newsletter, 20 June 2015]

A two-course dinner with a bottle of wine averages $167 in Dubai. A three-day stay averages $1,524, far shy of the most expensive, Cancun in Mexico at $2,000, but higher than Paris, Toyko, Toronto or Singapore.

How did a small emirate in the middle of a troubled region manage to become a global tourist hub that commands such high prices? A great airline? Fantastic hotels? Over-the-top shopping? Skiing? A business-friendly government? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. However, robust marketing may top the list. The Dubai government has invested heavily in pizazz and publicity consisting of superlatives. The “world’s best, biggest, highest, most iconic, most breath-taking” and a long list of other mind-blowing accolades have placed Dubai on the “gotta go there” global map.

Just pace yourself at the dinner table.

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Kensington Palace gate

Fond memories of Lady Diana returned while standing at the magnificent gate that was adorned with flowers in front of London’s Kensington Palace in September 1997. In Elton John’s words, “The legend never ends.”

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Next stop – Tunisia

pamelaSteve-7781Enjoying our visit to the Mediterranean marina in Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia.

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A $20 billion refi at 1%? You’re kidding, right?

No photo to share. No need to. Read on.

International Monetary Fund estimated that the emirate of Dubai faced $30 billion in maturities this year. That is reportedly equal to a third of its annual economy. But — an agreement was reached last March allowing the sheikdom to refinance $20 billion at 1% fixed interest, a quarter of the original cost, for five more years. And, the term is renewable. Wow!

A $10 billion bond extended by the UAE central bank plus a $10 billion loan from the oil-rich neighboring emirate of  Abu Dhabi helped Dubai state-controlled companies to weather the global financial crisis in 2008.

The rationale to refinance? Dubai’s domestic economy expanded 4.9% in 2013 and witnessed a double-digit upturn in apartment and villa sales. Improved credit worthiness theoretically boosts the entire country’s competitiveness both regionally and internationally.

Pick up the book STAYING AFLOAT – Three Years in Abu Dhabi and enjoy a colorful tale of my experience as an American expat while working and living in wealthy Abu Dhabi. Available via Amazon.

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Big? Uh uh. Momentous! It’s Dubai. Now what?

dubai-creek-extensions_clip_image028Purportedly the largest infrastructure project in the world is in the oven.

The monstrous Dubai Water Canal project was launched last October by the Ruler of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. What is it? It’s a 3 kilometer (1.8 mile) canal that stretches from the Arabian Gulf inland into the heart of the Business Bay district where the tallest building in the world is located. The canal will add 6 kilometers (3.6 miles) of waterfront real estate and is master planned to encompass in excess of 450 new restaurants, luxurious marinas, four world-class hotels, deluxe residences, an iconic Trade Center, the list goes on and on and on and ….

Cost of the canal alone? About $2 billion. The completed project is forecast to attract 20 to 22 million visitors per year so the trickle-down (trickle?) effect should cover the investment. Right?

What particularly fascinates me is that the Dubai Water Canal will be wide and deep enough to accommodate luxury yachts up to 200 feet! Captain, drop me off downtown. I have a business meeting to attend, and my wife wants to shop for a new wardrobe.

When might this whole shibang be completed? 2017 – three years prior to the World Expo which will be hosted by Dubai in 2020. But within those six years, a more momentous project than this momentous Water Canal project is very well apt to pop up. Hey, it’s Dubai.

Pick up the book STAYING AFLOAT – Three Years in Abu Dhabi and enjoy a colorful tale of my experience as an American expat while working and living in wealthy Abu Dhabi. Available via Amazon.

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Dubai is world’s 7th most expensive city in which to live and work

2 March 2014

Following last year’s 41% increase in Dubai’s rental cost index, it now costs an average of just under $72,000/year per employee to rent a residential and office space in Dubai according to Savills World Cities Live-Work Index, as reported in Arabian Money. Savills’ rankings have as much to do with global profile and prominence as with economics and size.

Hong Kong continues its reign as the #1 most expensive city in which to live-work, followed by London, New York, Paris, Singapore, and #6 Tokyo.


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Dubai’s rising house prices are the world’s fastest. Dẻja vu again?

22 December 2013

Through the end of this year’s 3rd Quarter, the emirate of Dubai’s residential property prices are the world’s fastest rising, surpassing the extraordinary price rises in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, according to renowned property broker Knight Frank.

Get this ~ Through the first nine months in 2013, residential prices in Dubai increased 28.5%, compared to a global average of 4.6%. For reference, the global index now stands at 4% above its previous peak in the 2nd Quarter of 2008.

Digging further, the data shows Dubai’s growth actually slowed in the 3rd Quarter, partially allaying fears of another real estate bubble in the emirate — emphasis on partially.

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