Burj Dubai now world's tallest building, says developers

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The Independent Online

A year and a half ahead of completion and already 1,680ft tall, the skyscraper know as Burj Dubai in the Gulf state has become the world's tallest building, its developers claimed yesterday.

With it, the Middle East is also set to reclaim the honour of having the tallest man-made structure - centuries after the construction of Egypt's ancient Great Pyramid of Giza held the title with its 481ft.

Paris's Eiffel Tower took over from the Pyramid, at a height of 1,023ft, including the flag pole.

If independently confirmed, the Burj Dubai will take over as No 1 from the Taipei 101 in Taiwan, which has dominated the world's skyline at 1,667ft since 2004.

The Burj's final height is a closely guarded secret. It is expected to be finished by the end of 2008.

Development company Emaar will only say that the tower's relentless climb to the sky will stop some time after it reaches 2,275ft.

The state-owned company is confident that the Burj will fulfil all four criteria for the tallest building, listed by the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

The criteria include: the height of the structural top, the highest occupied floor, the top of the roof, and the tip of the spire, pinnacle, antenna, mast or flag pole.

"It's a human achievement without equal," said Mohammed Ali Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, one of the main development firms in Dubai's construction frenzy.

Announcing the record-breaking structure in a press release today, Alabbar said the skyscraper would be an architectural and engineering masterpiece of concrete, steel and glass.

For now, the unattractive brownish concrete skeleton jutting into Dubai's humid skies lacks any masterpiece aura.

Rising 141 floors above ground from the centre of a dusty construction site, with a mass of surrounding cranes and girders, it has no windows, glass or steel, which have yet to be built in.

When completed, the Burj Dubai will have more than 160 stories and 56 lifts. It will house luxury apartments, boutique shops, swimming pools and spas, exclusive corporate suites, the first hotel owned by the Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani, as well as an observation platform on the 124th floor.

Since excavation for Burj Dubai's foundations started in 2004, the tower has slowly overtaken previous skyscraper record holders one after another: New York's Empire State Building at 1,250ft, Shanghai's Jin Mao Building at 1,381ft, Sears Tower in Chicago at 1,451ft, Malaysia's Petronas Towers at 1,483ft and finally the vaunting Taipei 101.