World's tallest building, Burj Dubai Tower, opens as a golden era closes

Dubai Tower opens next month. But will this crowning jewel also be the city's high watermark?

Burj Dubai, the world's tallest tower, is a spire of superlatives.

The 160-story skyscraper will open on January 4, the fourth anniversary of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed al-Maktoum's rule in Dubai.

Under the Sheikh, Dubai has seen a boom in record breakers, impressive firsts, and baffling spectacles. For example, the city is or will be home to the world's first refrigerated beach, a twirling tower, the world's largest arch-supported bridge, and artificial islands in the shape of the world map.

And Burj Dubai boasts more surprising bullet points than simply being the world's tallest tower:

• At 2,700 feet tall, the skyscraper can be seen from 10 miles away.

• The building will sport the fastest elevators in the world, traveling at 10 meters per second (22 miles per hour). They will also be double-decker elevators, with each deck supporting up to 21 people.

• To keep out the desert heat, 10,000 tons of coolant with flow through the tower every hour.

• 230,000 cubic meters of concrete form the building's core, enough to pave 1,180 miles of sidewalk.

• Dubai Tower will be the highlight of the worlds' largest indoor shopping center, with space for 1,200 shops nestled among 30,000 apartments.

But Dubai is a very different place this month than it was in 2004 when construction began on the tower. As AFP reports:

For more on Dubai's shaky financial future, check out the Monitor's report: After Dubai World debt panic, UAE guarantees all bank deposits.

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