Developer behind world's tallest skyscraper wants to go even higher

The developer behind Dubai's Burj Khalifa is aiming even higher with another tower it hopes to build nearby.

Kamran Jebreili/AP
Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava Valls poses in front of a rendering of his project during a press conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Sunday.

The developer of the world’s tallest building is once again looking to touch the sky, with a structure that would surpass the Burj Khalifa as the highest yet constructed.

The United Arab Emirates-based Emaar Properties announced Sunday a new tower project it says will be slightly taller than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.

"The Tower" is to be built in the planned Dubai Creek Harbour area of the UAE’s most populous city, with a height set to be “a notch” above the Burj Khalifa, Emaar chairman Mohamed Alabbar told The Associated Press.

“We are looking for a tower and for a monument that adds value to the world, a monument and a tower that celebrates the world one more time,” Mr. Alabbar said in a company video on the tower’s development.

The “21st-century Eiffel Tower,” as Alabbar described it, will be a spire influenced by minarets traditionally used for Muslim calls to prayer. The Tower will feature garden decks, moving balconies, a hotel, and restaurants, all supported by lily leaf-inspired cables at the developing Creek Harbour located next to a Dubai wildlife sanctuary.

While Dubai already has the world's tallest building, the new structure may not end up qualifying in the rankings. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, which maintains the list of the world’s tallest buildings, says structures are considered buildings if at least half of their height is “usable floor area,” which would disqualify The Tower and leave Burj Khalifa as the world’s tallest. Still, the $1-billion Tower project is set to add to Dubai’s already lofty skyline ahead of the city’s hosting of the 2020 World Expo.

In Saudi Arabia, work is underway on the Jeddah Tower, which is expected to be finished in 2019 at a height of more than 1 kilometer, and would eclipse Burj Khalifa as the world’s tallest official building.

Emaar hopes that the development of the Dubai Creek Harbour area centered by The Tower will not only enhance the area’s image, but attract tourists and people looking to buy apartments with a view. The Burj Khalifa’s completion was coupled with the additions of apartment buildings and shopping centers near the skyscraper, a model Alabbar hopes The Tower can replicate.

“Many ... of our customers would like to have that view. And if you ask me what is the financial model, that is the financial model,” he told the AP.

“As an artistical achievement it’s inspired by the idea of welcoming people, of sending a signal not only to the neighbors, not only to Dubai and to the Emirates, but to the whole world,” architect Santiago Calatrava Valls, who designed The Tower, said in Emaar’s promotional video.

The official height of The Tower was not released by Emaar, and Alabbar said the figure likely wouldn’t be revealed until it opens.

Safety during The Tower’s development will also be a concern for Emaar, after its Dubai hotel The Address Downtown, was made famous on New Year’s Eve when the building went up in a blaze. Alabbar said that new regulations could be beneficial going forward, but that liabilities in construction projects would persist regardless of lessons learned from previous incidents.

“Risks are there as long as we are progressing,” he told the AP. “These things do happen, and you have to go and fix them and make sure if they happen, they happen to a minimum.”

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