Worlds Tallest Building Closed
Last Saturday, visitors on the observation deck of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building heard a loud boom, and then watched smoke bellowing out from the shaft of an elevator 124 floors above the ground. There were 15 people trapped inside the elevator for 45 harrowing minutes until rescuers managed to open the elevator door.
The tower, Dubai’s proudest achievement, was shut down to the public just a month after it was open with great fanfare. This was one more incident to taint the image of the once glittering city-state that is deeply wedged in a financial predicament.
The building was previously known as Al Burj and Burj Dubai, but the name was changed to honor the emir of Abu Dhabi Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, when he came up with $20 billion to rescue Dubai from a financial crisis.
In the last few years, Dubai has been spending borrowed money on construction projects like there were no tomorrows. They were spending on ambitious real estate projects such as palm tree-shaped artificial islands and other skyscrapers. Then the world financial catastrophe hit them hard, shutting down easy credit lines and plunging the state into serious cash flow problems.
Dubai could have spent the money instead on educating their people and creating infrastructure for long-term commerce such as another city-state, Singapore, did many years ago. Today, Singapore is a world-class business center of the Far East, while Dubai is struggling hard to keep its financial freedom.