Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Burj Dubai Khalifa official opening

After the big firework/light display for the official opening we at last know the height of the world's tallest structure.

Photo: The National

It's 828 metres, a dramatic increase on the previous tallest building Taipei 101 which is 509.2 metres.

You get some idea of the size of the thing when you see it against other 'normal' skyscrapers...

Photo: Bloomberg. Sydney Morning Herald

It isn't just the height that strikes me but also the mass. Each of those sections at the bottom are the size of a 'normal' tower. It's an absolutely huge building.

Brand Dubai's suffered a loss though because the word Dubai has disappeared from the name. It's officially Burj Khalifa, named after the President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Burj, by the way, is the Arabic word for tower.

The opening has been covered all over the world, naturally, and I've been glancing at comments left on blogs and forums.

Two particular areas, the renaming and the finance, are attracting the usual crowd of the uninformed.

On the renaming there are plenty of comments that it's payback for the Abu Dhabi loans to some Dubai World companies and that Abu Dhabi will now own the building.

The other area is that 'Dubai's bust' and can't afford the building.

There are several things these people don't understand. First, they don't understand that 'Dubai' doesn't own the building, and nor can 'Abu Dhabi'. They don't understand that the developer is Emaar, which is a very profitable company and nothing to do with Dubai World. They don't understand that the building was over 90% sold off-plan, that the individual investors own the building and that their money was used to fund the construction.

It's a fact of life that a complete lack of knowledge doesn't deter people from stridently stating an opinion, confidently expressed as fact but in reality far from it.

The renaming is actually more far reaching, especially for Brand Dubai, than just changing the nameplate on one building.

The city being built around the tower is Downtown Burj Dubai. Presumably that will now be Downtown Burj Khalifa. The Metro station is Burj Dubai Station, which presumably now has to be Burj Khalifa Station. The brand name Dubai has lost a lot of future publicity.

There are other areas which are affected too, such as contracts held by the thousand or so owners, which must say they own part of Burj Dubai and will therefore need to be changed to say Burj Khalifa.

Interesting times.

Reuters have a clip of the fireworks on YouTube, here.


masood said...

Dropped onto your blog from a google search. Good to see a blog on Dubai by a fellow resident.

Loved your clarifications on Dubai. I've dealt with similar questions and queries about Dubai over the last few months.

Right said - Interesting times :)

Ian said...

I read somewhere a while back that Abu Dhabi bought a pile of Emaar shares so that might explain the name change.

What's really funny, though is that burjkhalifa.com was registered late last night by an un-named person in the US and is not related to Emaar or the Dubai authorities. Looking at the site they've put up, it is pretty rubbish, so I would expect this to be a case of cyber-squatting.

It seems like Emaar forgot to do their homework when changing the name and somebody has jumped in before them. Ha Ha. It's a bit embarrassing.

masood said...

I read about that story too..domain being registered. But apparently, though the domain was registered in US, it was done by a man in Dubai. It cost him $29.95. They've managed to track down his first name as well. And that he is a Pakistani. And the fact that he lives in Mirdiff.

And the content that they put up is just a copy-paste of the Wiki page for Burj Khalifa.

Seabee said...

Masood that's what I heard too - a Mirdiff man registered the name.

It's just one more example that companies here, claiming to be at the cutting edge, in fact are way behind in understanding modern technology like the internet, e-mail.

Customers having to visit in person, faxes and telephoning are the way companies think they should communicate.

The burjdubai.com website is still in place, the Emaar corporate website is full of Burj Dubai stories...

mboyer said...

The government of Dubai has pretty heavy financial claims on Emaar as well as obviously Dubai World. Abu Dhabi's financial aid obviously caused the name change. As you continuously point out, the Dubai PR people are idiots, but even an idiot would prepare for a name change like this. Everybody knew it as the Burj Dubai, they didn't have a website ready, the development is Downtown Burj Dubai, and who seriously names a world record after somebody else? I'm pretty sure that Mr. Khalifa talked to Mr. Mo about $10 billion dollars for his name on the building.

Keefieboy said...

Crap, I wish I'd thought of registering the domain name!

Jad Aoun said...

With the name change, I feel sorry for the souvenir shops!

Nikhil said...

i am sad the news.hope dubai is back soon. love dubai and feel sad.

Sophia said...

Thanks for a great story!

Anonymous said...

There are several things these people don't understand. First, they don't understand that 'Dubai' doesn't own the building, and nor can 'Abu Dhabi'.

It appears that Burj Khalifa is controlled by the Dubai government or its ruler in his personal capacity. I think that it is clear that he owns the land on which it is built and he, or a legal entity he controls, likely has 'freehold title' to the building. The ownership structure is deliberately opaque but I challenge you to provide evidence that the Ruler of Dubai is not the ultimate owner of the Burj Khalifa. Who, after all, decided to change the name of the building?

They don't understand that the developer is Emaar, which is a very profitable company and nothing to do with Dubai World.

I'm not sure how profitable Emaar is given the dramatic fall over the past few years in its share price, rumours of insider dealing and its less than fully transparent financials. I think it is quite clear, however, that Emaar is closely linked to Dubai World: the person who ultimately controls Emaar also controls Dubai World and is certainly the largest single (ultimate) shareholder in each of them.

They don't understand that the building was over 90% sold off-plan, that the individual investors own the building and that their money was used to fund the construction.

Are you really sure that the 'investors' actually together 'own' the building? I suspect that they merely hold leasehold type interests in it which do not convey ownership in the legal sense of the term. Do you really think that the cost of funding the construction was fully covered by sales to 'investors' (or to use more accurate terminology, prospective tenants) and that the developer or the other companies involved in the building's construction have no liability to any financial lenders in relation to the building's construction which is not backed by the funds received from 'investors'? Too me, all of this is quite unclear.

It's a fact of life that a complete lack of knowledge doesn't deter people from stridently stating an opinion, confidently expressed as fact but in reality far from it.

While with you, it appears to be a fact of life (or at least a fact of your writing on this blog) that only limited knowledge apparently gives you licence to stridently state your own opinion, also confidently expressed as fact, while denigrating others for doing the same thing. Perhaps you should be kinder to the usual crowd of the uninformed since you are clearly a member of such a crowd as, I happily concede for the most part, am I!

Anonymous said...

oh oh....the above comment is going to hurt seabee pretty bad. he specialises in this kind of motherhoods, and when attacked he will now come around and say this is not what i said, " i said xxxxx, hence whatever is said still holds true" . talk about trumpet blowers of dubai who skate on half truths and misinterpretations!!! as if some people unrelated to the royal family owns emaar and burj khalifa. yeah yeah...i know...you didnt say that too.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else a little uncomfortable with the leader's hagiography and the lighting effects at the opening?

I knew they reminded me of something and the penny dropped when the TV presenters said that event management and lighting effects were provided by Albert Speer and Associates, headquartered in Nurnberg.

Seabee said...


You don't believe me so check it for yourself.

"Order No. 3 of 2006 designating areas for expatriates who can enjoy freehold ownership in Dubai, published in the government's official gazette on July 3, 2006.

The new regulations follow the issuance in March of the Property Registration Law (No. 7), legalising freehold ownership of land and property to UAE and GCC nationals as well as non-GCC citizens to own freehold property in designated areas."

Burj Dubai was included in the list of freehold areas and property in the building was advertised as such.
You can read the report and see the map here.

"Dubai Land Department...has viewed the property registration procedures of the Burj Khalifa units.

The department had instructed those responsible for registering the units to enter the remaining data to produce the ownership deeds of the Burj Khalifa."

That's here.

"Emaar Properties the developers of the world's tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, has made a 10 per cent return on investment in the project.

Emaar posted net operating profit of Dhs655 million ($ 178 million) in the third quarter, up 53 per cent on the year-earlier period."

Gulf Today - 05 January, 2010.

You seem to not understand the difference between expressing an opinion and stating an opinion as though it's a fact - without checking whether it is true, which is the complaint I made. So I'll give you an example from your own comment:

You expressed the opinion that: "I'm not sure how profitable Emaar is..." That's clearly an opinion, which you're quite entitled to make.

Had you stated it as a fact: "Emaar is not profitable" I would have taken issue with it.

That's what I was complaining about, with many people on forums and blog comments stating such things as Sheikh Khalifa demanded the renaming in return for the $billions and that Abu Dhabi would be taking over ownership of the tower. Stated as fact, not opinion.

I express my opinions here, which may or may not be right and which others will agree or disagree with. But if I state something as a fact I check it first.

Anonymous said...

you own property in dubai like you own in US and UK? to the best of my knowledge it is a 99 year lease or something of that sort...with the absolute ownership resting with the kingdom longterm, not with your grandchildren however much you pay now.

Doug said...

The name change is unlikely to have been anything to do with Abu Dhabi's involvement (or otherwise) in Emaar and much more likely to do with the way the wind is blowing in the UAE.

It's no secret that Abu Dhabi is going to have a lot more involvement in Dubai's business. It's also not a secret that Sheikh Khalifa is now beginning to firmly put his stamp on AUH projects. I would suggest that the renaming of the tower was a 'recommendation' made when Abu Dhabi supplied the money and is the first tangible sign that things aren't going to be the same again. For the record I think it's unfortunate; if this was a genuine attempt by Dubai or Abu Dhabi to create some UAE-wide ownership of the name of the tower, Burj Zayed would have been more appropriate, what with it being on his road and the obvious point about it reaching higher/further etc.

Instead it looks more like a Sheikh Khalifa vanity project, much like the new Yas Island highway. It's a very old-fashioned way of stamping your ownership on a project. Say what you like about Mo but for all Dubai's glitzy marketing, he does seem to genuinely understand how to have a large presence without naming everything after himself and sticking up his photo everywhere.

Wonder if the Dubai Fountain will also be renamed now?

Seabee said...

Anon@5.54, freehold ownership means exactly that.

Article 4 of the Freehold Law states: Subject to the Ruler's approval and in specific areas in the Emirate as determined by him, non-national persons may be granted the following rights:

a. The right to freehold ownership without time restrictions; or
b. Usufruct right or leasehold right over a Real Property for a period not exceeding 99 years.

If you want to check for yourself the law is online here.

Doug, I agree with you about the way the wind's blowing. (I wondered about the Dubai Fountain name too).