Talk about five years in the making, Burj Khalifa (formerly known as Burj Dubai), the tallest tower in the world was officially inaugurated last night. The first time I saw this up and personal was few months ago when we checked the fireworks in the dancing fountain in Dubai Mall. It is really, really gigantic that it felt like looking up to eternity from that point. I did not get to see the launching face to face though. I hoped that they would do it during a weekend that I probably might have considered going there to be one of the many spectators, with eyes bewildered, as you can see in one of the photos. (I photographed these from the pages of one of the leading broadsheets in UAE.)
The fireworks display begun from one level to the other culminating on the over 160th floor/level (just imagine the speed of the elevators). Due to amazing pyrotechnics, the tower looked like it was going to explode. Until the inauguration, its final height (of 828 meters) was not disclosed by the developers.
The fact that this tower in Dubai is now part of the history of tallest towers in the world is no surprise to me. Dubai has been known for making the impossible possible. What shocked me is that after all the promotion and marketing worldwide of its supposedly legal name “Burj Dubai”, on its inauguration it was introduced as “Burj Khalifa”. Burj is an Arabic term for tower or building. But why Khalifa? I was checking the related news on the launch and consistently the reason I got was because Burj Khalifa name was one that reflected greatness. I partly might agree. But we must remember that Dubai is known for branding almost anything with its name in it. There must be a big reason for dropping its name.
It might have been destined, but my couple of years stay in the UAE, brought me to some political orientation and issues even without necessarily seeking it. This is not a political blog, hence, I tried not writing about the rulers’ issues especially during the height of Dubai’s financial crisis. But to make the long story short, the rulers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi used to have (a past tense is safer) a tribal war (this you will not probably find in the worldwideweb). Their management style differs a lot: with Abu Dhabi as being the level headed one as against Dubai’s aggressiveness (hence, termed rebellious brother). Despite this silent competition, Abu Dhabi’s government generously supplied US$ 10 billion to Dubai’s government to meet the debt obligations of Dubai World.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed is one of the rulers of Abu Dhabi (and is the current president of UAE). That explains the change in name. Whether he demanded the tower to be named after him or not is another question. As a resident of Abu Dhabi, I do not think he would do that. He is one of the leaders whom I think is not hungry for recognition. Incidentally, he did not attend the inauguration of Burj Khalifa. Last year, its government rejected a proposal to build a tower taller than the (then) Burj Dubai. Had it pushed through, it will be called “Al Imlaq” or “The Giant”. Although much equipped by resources, they considered more the impact it will have on the air traffic in Abu Dhabi. Talk about social and environmental responsibilities. And guess what? The builders will not stop. They will redirect the proposal to Saudi Arabia. Do not be surprised if a taller tower would be launched in the next five years. And you know where.