By Shane McGinley
Ceremony will be attended by Qatari PM and Prince Andrew
A massive laser show will light up the London skyline tonight to mark the formal inauguration of the Shard Tower, with the opening ceremony due to be attended by the prime minister of Qatar and Britain’s Prince Andrew.
The ceremony will mark the physical completion of the exterior of the GBP£500m (US$779m) building, which is 95 percent co-financed by Qatar and is located on the South Bank of the Thames.
The tower will be the centerpiece of the US$3bn London Quarter project, which is being developed by Qatari Diar and the Sellar Property Group.
The inauguration will be marked by a light and laser show, where lasers will reach out from The Shard to other major London landmark buildings across the capital, including the London Eye, the Gherkin and Tower Bridge.
“Standing at almost 310 metres, The Shard will be one of the tallest buildings in Western Europe. For me however, the height of the Shard is only secondary. What is special is the solid and continuing relationship between two nations – Qatar and Britain – which has been an important factor in completing this project,” said HE Sheikh Abdullah Bin Saoud Al Thani, the governor of Qatar Central Bank and chairman of the board of directors of the Shard Funding Limited and London Bridge Quarter.
“The Shard is more than just an amazing feat of engineering, it is a towering illustration of London’s determination to beat the recession and spur economic growth. This iconic, sparkling new addition to the capital's skyline will act as a huge commercial magnet, pulling in scores of new businesses and offering vital employment opportunities for thousands of people,” added Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London.
Last month, officials moved to deny reports the opening would be delayed by up to two months and the inauguration ceremony would go ahead on July 5 as planned, with the rest of the facilities due to open in due course.
“The View from The Shard (the viewing galleries) will open in mid-February 2013, with the Shangri-La Hotel formally opening around the same time. The restaurants will open as they are let and fitting out is completed,” a spokesperson told Arabian Business in a statement.
“The offices will be occupied as they are let and fitted out. The Shard will be open to the public by the end of Q1 2013 with the adjoining The Place headquarters building due to complete in Q2 2013,” she added.
It is estimated that more than 1m visitors a year will visit the tower.
It was a bit underwhelming! It's a shame the Burj Khalifa opening ceremony organisers weren't hired...