Monday, January 4, 2010

A grand opening surprise

Ever wonder what you might do with that spare $10 billion you have lying around? Perhaps you should have loaned it to Dubai; maybe then the world's tallest building would have been renamed in your honor.

The Burj Dubai officially opened today, to much fanfare. If you've been reading, you know what an impressive thing it is; at 828 metres, more than twice as tall as the Empire State Building, a sparkling tower looming into the clouds high above the rest of Dubai's skyscrapers.

Only it's not the Burj Dubai anymore. Tonight it was renamed the Burj Khalifa, out of respect for Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the Ruler of Abu Dhabi and the President of the UAE ... and the man who last month put up $10 billion to help Dubai get through its financial problems.

I'd say he got his money's worth; the Burj is attracting international attention on an unprecedented scale. It is THE place to be in Dubai; even we spent New Year's Eve in the shadow of the Burj, with thousands of others, watching a spectacular water show in the lake fronting the tower and marveling at its overpowering presence.

And by the way, if you had only $10 million or so to spare, you could have at least purchased the entire 100th floor. That's what Indian expatriate businessman Bavaguthu Shetty did; he said he plans to model the 15,000 square feet into guest houses for friends and family.

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