Nakheel pulled off a bloodless Cityscape coup on Sunday night - stealing the show before it had even started with the launch of a kilometre-high tower that is likely to become the world’s tallest building.
In front of an audience of VIPs that included Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, the developer chose the recently completed Atlantis hotel to reveal the giant structure.
The model itself was about three storeys high, and like the Millennium Dome, could easily be put to use for another purpose after the show winds up.
Like a giant Dalek, it inched its way towards the crowd. Through an illuminated blanket of dry ice and accompanied by thundering music which grew to a crescendo, the model slowly moved towards centre stage before coming to a halt with a wobble, that appeared not to have been entirely choreographed.
It was an impressive sight and will be no less an impressive feat of engineering when it comes to be built. In fact the tower is not one building, but four – all independent structures cross-braced by sky bridges along its elevation. It will be the centrepiece of a $38bn project that Nakheel anticipates will become the new centre of Dubai.
But that could be more than a decade away and in the meantime the regional real estate industry will have other issues to contemplate – chief among them a global lending crisis that threatens the viability of many of the projects that will be on display at this year’s event.
The tower was launched at the end of what was a bad day for regional markets in general and a particularly bad one for the real estate sector.
Across the Gulf, the top ten real estate companies lost an average of 4.7 percent from their share prices on Sunday – led by Emaar, which finished 12.3 percent down.
The tower will restore some of the feel good factor missing from the industry in recent weeks. How long that will last is another question that will be debated by many at this year’s show.
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