26 May 2013
When the United Arab Emirates was founded in 1971, there were zero tall buildings. In fact, there were very few buildings period. Today, 42 years later, the city of Dubai (in the emirate of Dubai) is a sea of high-rise buildings which include many of the world’s architectural marvels.
Dubai boasts the tallest building (to date) in the world – the Burj Al Khalifa at 930m (2,723 feet) – and the tallest residential tower – Princess Tower at 413m (1,355 feet) – and the tallest hotel in the world – JW Marriott Marquis Dubai at 355m (1,164 feet). It is also home to the world’s tallest cluster of residential skyscrapers – Dubai Marina.
By the numbers, of Dubai’s 909 skyscrapers, 448 have 40 floors or more. In height, 387 of the high-rises are in excess of 99m (330 feet), 84 are in excess of 202m (670 feet), and 26 are in excess of 301m (1,000 feet). The Burj Al Khalifa is 2.2 times the height of the Empire State building in New York City and 3.3 times the height of the Transamerica building in San Francisco.
What drives man to strive to surpass seemingly unachievable construction benchmarks? Is it new technology that creates stronger and lighter construction materials that challenge visionaries, architects and engineers to think further outside the box? Is it the developer’s belief that the world’s tallest buildings function as centerpieces, magnets if you will, that enhance the financial success of the surrounding developments? Is it an owner’s ego? I say D – all of the above. It is undisputedly a tribute to the country in which these projects are built, the end result being a substantial increase in tourism. Case in point, occupancy at Dubai’s 599 hotels, which have 80,500 rooms combined, was a resounding 78% in 2012.
Dubai’s ambitious construction projects continue today, both on the drawing board and under construction, albeit at a significantly less frantic pace than during the 2005-2008 “Gold Rush Years.” D above is hard at work. What do you think?
STAYING AFLOAT – Three Years in Abu Dhabi is a colorful, witty, and insightful memoir of my experiences as an American expat while living and working in the UAE.