Monday, 4 January 2010

Burj Dubai is now Burj Khalifa

Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum opened the world’s tallest tower today and renamed it after the ruler of neighboring Abu Dhabi, which bailed out Dubai during the country’s debt crisis last year.

The 200-story Burj Khalifa cost $1.5 billion to build, said Mohammed Alabbar, chairman of developer Emaar Properties PJSC. The tower takes it name from Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also president of the United Arab Emirates. While mainly residential, the building will have 37 floors of office and retail space.

During the five years of the tower’s construction the sheikhdom’s debt-fueled property market went from the world’s best performing to the worst, forcing officials to renegotiate loans and seek bailouts from Abu Dhabi. The Burj’s occupancy rate may reach 75 percent this year, with office leasing proving the biggest challenge for investors, said Roy Cherry, an analyst at investment bank Shuaa Capital PSC.

“Those who bought with the intention of leasing will face a difficult time because few companies today can justify paying premiums for luxury,” Cherry said.

Burj Khalifa has a height of 828 meters (2,717 feet), Alabbar said in a telephone interview today. Apartment prices in the tower, formerly known as Burj Dubai, have fallen to less than half of the 10,000 dirhams ($2,700) a square foot that they reached at the 2008 peak.