Dubai’s Tower of Babel

Dubai is home to the future World’s Tallest Building. It sure is a race to the top, and when Dubai gets there, its gonna be ahead by miles (well, not literally).

Dubai reaches for the sky is an interesting article about the process.

The Palm Islands is another project thats making waves (no pun intended) in Dubai

The MoMA recently had an exhibition “TALL BUILDINGS” which can also be seen online

The Skyscraper Museum has all you need to know about….ummm, skyscrapers!!

Here are some recent “first person” impressions by Rhyncus as pointed out by DesiPundit.

Dubai reaches for the sky
By Irene Hell,BBC correspondent in Dubai

“History Rising” is the slogan of the gigantic construction project set in motion by Dubai ruler Sheikh Muhammad al-Maktoum last year.

It has now reached the stage of a 50-metre-deep (165ft) foundation being laid for what is planned as the world’s tallest building Dubai Tower.

The silver and steel tower, whose height is a secret, is a shining symbol of the new self-confidence of booming Dubai.

Chicago-based architect Adrian Smith, who designed the building, says he has tried to bridge the gap between Islamic tradition and ultra-modern Western architecture.

“Spirals come up in many forms in Islamic architecture,” he says.

“The tower goes up in steps in a spiralling way. In Islamic architecture, this symbolises ascending towards the heavens.”

A showroom model in the middle of the dusty 120-hectare (300-acre) desert site shows what the metropolis, complete with artificial lake, will look like.

In the middle, the silver tower looks like a gigantic arrow reaching halfway to the heavens.

“You know that the exact height is a secret,” says Mr Smith. “But it is going to be substantially taller than the highest building, taller than 600 metres.”

Lasting record

Nations have long competed to have the tallest edifice.

“I like a challenge. If I see something impossible, I want to make it possible”…Sheikh Muhammad al-Maktoum

The world’s tallest building is currently Taiwan’s Taipei 101 at 509 metres, but its glory is about to be eclipsed by mainland China.

Sheikh Muhammad, who owns some of the world’s fastest horses and biggest private jets, does not want to be beaten that easily and Adrian Smith is determined to set a record that really lasts.

“Our observation deck will be the highest in the world. It has a non-stop elevator from the ground to the 124th floor. The whole building has about 154 floors.”

Future residents are promised a state-of-the-art luxury “sky living” with fresh mangos every morning.

International hub

The ground pattern of the Dubai Tower, known by its Arabic name as Burj Dubai, is shaped like the flower of the hymenocallis, a white lily native to the deserts of the Arabia.

The only other reminder that Dubai is an Islamic emirate is the separate pool hours planned for women residents.

Thousands of workers, mainly from Asia, work relentlessly day and night to fulfil Sheikh Muhammad’s ambitious vision of his city as world capital by 2010.

The cybersheikh, as he is known, is well aware that his oil resources are limited.

Tourism and a finance, media and information hub are intended as the new sources of Dubai’s wealth.

Tower of Babel?

Some critics have been saying that Dubai – just two generations ago a primitive desert outpost – is moving too fast. Will the Dubai Tower be a new Tower of Babel, they ask?

But with more than 80% of the emirate’s population now coming from abroad, Dubai is already a kind of Babel. And once it is ready, the $900m skyscraper with its 3,000 inhabitants is going to be a major landmark.

Does that mean it could be a target of terrorism? Mr Smith prefers to think not.

“The message of the Burj Dubai is one of hope and optimism. I think we should not be afraid of life. Otherwise what good is it?”

It is a vision shared by Sheikh Muhammad himself, as he drives to the construction site down Sheikh Zayed Road.

“I like challenge,” he tells the BBC. “If I see something impossible, I want to make it possible.

“We have to approach the future, not wait for the future to come to us.”

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/08/10 14:10:33 GMT © BBC MMV



  1. Arzan……

    I’ve often wondered……why do people constantly refer to only Saudi Arabia or Kuwait as examples of the middle east, and not Dubai or Bahrain? The two groups, though in the same region, are worlds apart in many ways…

    Nice bit of friday trivia 🙂

  2. Thanks Arzan for the link.
    And though I’m not very familiar with the region, to address Sunil’s point, I think one mistake a lot of people make is to think of the GCC region as one homogenous area, which is thoroughly incorrect. Even among the emirates there are wide disparities of incomes and opportunities.
    Also, isn’t it funny how not only do the tallest buildings keep coming up with amazing regularity every few years, but that all the action is happening in Asia?

  3. Dubai is an amazing city. Was there last year for 10 days holiday…and found it to be simply beautiful.
    There so many shopping malls for a small city…and the best part is that they all very different from one another.

    All in all a good..clean…city.

  4. Sunil…I think the big difference between UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Muscat, as compared to Saudi Arabia, is the extremism with which Islam is followed. I have never been to Dubai, but from what i have heard, its a relatively open society, the operating key word being relative. Saudi on the other hand, is oppresive. Of course it did not do their popularity any good that the worlds most wanted terrorist is their citizen !!

    Rhyncus…U r welcome. I agree with your comments about the GCC. As regards to the tall buildings, I think that tall buildings are to nations today, what monuments were centuries ago to kings and rulers. Being the tallest gives bragging rights and a lot of publicity. Thus the small island of Taipei, now holds the record for the tallest building in the world, and Mainland China is already planning to show their “superiority” by going higher.

    Sakshi…as an architect and urban designer, i totally abhor malls. They are the bane of urban civilization. They propogate the suburban sprawl, and I see it everyday in play here in the US. One reason why NYC is one of the greatest cities in the world is because it is such a people friendly city, where shopping coexists with the remaining city fabric and does not stand out as an island within itself. The whole idea of malls has reached its peak and is on its way down, at least in urban areas. Dubai and for that matter most Indian cities, are late to catch on to the fad, and as American cities try to grapple with the issue, Asian cities go on unabated, embracing one more bad American idea.

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