Emaar Properties claims Burj Dubai as world's tallest building

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Burj Dubai under construction in UAE, as of July 15, 2007.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) developer Emaar Properties has claimed that their Burj Dubai commercial and residential tower, currently under construction, has become the world's tallest building, reaching a height of 512.1 metres (or 1,680 feet) and 141 storeys.

The current official record holder, Taipei 101 of Taiwan, has a height of 508 metres and 101 storeys, and will retain the "tallest building" title for some time to come. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat sets the criteria for achieving height records for buildings, and will not evaluate the Burj Dubai until construction is complete in late 2008. Although final height details have been kept secret by the developer, the Burj Dubai is expected to reach nearly 700 metres in height, with approximately 160 storeys.

The current record holder for the world's tallest free-standing structure is the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada. It has a height of 553 metres. The Burj Dubai, therefore, would claim both records when it is completed.

CN Tower in Toronto, Canada
Image: Frank Warmerdam.

Once the Burj Dubai is completed, it will have required 330,000 cubic metres of concrete, 39,000 tonnes of steel and 142,000 square metres of glass, according to Emaar Properties. The building will have 56 lifts (elevators) that can move at a rate of speed of 1.75 to 10 metres per second.

Dubai is undergoing a construction boom currently with the Burj Dubai as the planned centrepiece of a $US20 billion project, which will eventually realize some 30,000 apartments and boast the world's largest shopping mall.

There have been criticisms of the working conditions for construction workers in the UAE. A majority of the estimated 500,000 construction workers in the UAE are foreign workers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

In a 2006 report on the UAE's treatment of migrant workers, entitled Building Towers, Cheating Workers, Human Rights Watch documented abuses in UAE such as, "extremely low wages, several years of indebtedness to recruitment agencies for fees that UAE law says only employers should pay, the withholding of employees’ passports, and hazardous working conditions that result in apparently high rates of death and injury."

In October of last year, Human Rights Watch delivered specific recommendations to the UAE government for improvement of working conditions. The UAE government acted swiftly on the report and put in place several improvements, which were applauded by Human Rights Watch.

However, the salaries of migrant construction workers remain in the range from $106 to $250 per month, while the national average wage is over $2,000 per month. Trade unions remain illegal in the UAE.

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