Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thoughts on Burj Khalifa



Originally titled "Thoughts on Burj Dubai", but hey, things change (some literally overnight).

As expected, there were articles alluding to the "humiliation" of the apparent last-minute rename (and as expected, from the same sources that bring up Ozymandias and Babel anytime they mention the tower). Not surprisingly, there were also articles that attempted to distance Abu Dubai from Dubai by, for example, referring to Sheikh Khalifa as the "Abu Dhabi president" and sneering at how Dubai was "forced" into the name change, while neglecting to mention that the UAE, not Abu Dhabi, has a president (who happens to be the ruler of Abu Dhabi), and that the main thoroughfare into Dubai is already named after a UAE president. Then again, the local counter-propaganda rendered me just as nauseous.

No doubt, this will cause major problems for Emaar, not in the least in terms of branding. On one hand, I am slightly relieved that we have one less landmark named after the city (rather uncreative, in the vein of Dubai Fountain, Dubai Mall, etc). But now there's the question of what to do with not just the name seared into the public consciousness, but embossed onto mugs, printed on signs, given to a metro station and even sewn into janitorial uniforms. Indeed, jaws dropped last night for more than one reason. Emaar must have known for a while, because the stele unveiled by Sheikh Mo had the new name on it. However, secrecy would have been tight, as marketing seems to have sworn to not take any action even in registering a domain name.

Whatever the case, it is a truly majestic edifice - in my opinion, the most beautiful among the stratoscrapers. By day, it is a gleaming spearhead piercing the heavens, and by night, a sparkling beacon of urbania for miles and miles around. At twilight, when seen from a distance on the shadow side, its jagged silhouette cuts a sharp black wedge into the golden-red evening sky, as though Dubai grew so fast that it cracked the celestial dome at its edge. This afternoon, as rays of sunlight illuminated the city through intermittent gaps in thick winter clouds, it appeared otherwordly. Having lived in Chicago, up until recently the home of the tallest building in the world, the psychological elevation such a construction offers is as important as the physical height - especially needed in these times and in this region.


  1. Yes, this is a beautiful and amazing tower. So high and so sharp, just like the end of an arrow that would burst the clouds and provoke an endless torrent on Dubai. :)
    Please take pics for us when you got time. Merci !

  2. I will. I happened to be having my Arabic classes at the time of the inaugration (just as well, as the area was apparently packed to the point of inaccessibility), but I expect to make a trip to the Burj sometime next month.

  3. going to have to come crash your place soon so I can visit this tower.