Few building projects have received as much attention and fanfare as Dubai’s Burj Dubai 800 + meter skyscraper, that including its top tower will be the tallest building in the world.
A few weeks ago, I posted an article about the Burj tower, which when completed will contain residential and business properties selling at $3,500 to $4,000 per square foot.
But despite claims that the project is designed to be environmentally friendly, with specially designed windows and air conditioning to maintain constant temperatures within, many people are wondering if such buildings are really necessary.
Some say that such a project is only a display of opulence and vanity when so many people in the world are living impoverished lives– especially the thousands of foreign workers recruited from countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, and others. Many of these people are being paid as little as US$ 4 a day to perform backbreaking physical labor, often at peril to their lives. One skilled pipe fitter from India commented: “human beings are no more than machines here.”
The tower has been under construction since 2005; and work on the building is now entering its “final phases” which include interior finishing of residential apartments and offices, expected to proceed at a slower pace.
As noted in the previous article (Burj Tower In Dubai A Steep Investment During Tough Economic And Environmental Times), the tower’s design is such as to be able to withstand temperature extremes in the region, including variations between cooler night time temperatures and often extremely hot daytime ones (often surpassing 50 degrees C).
The building is also designed to withstand moderate earthquake tremors of up to level 6 on the Richter scale.
Although a grand opening of some sections of the tower is planned for the fall of 2009, the project is only slated for full completion in 2011.
The sheer height of the Burj tower (818 meters) and its needle-like shape, also brings another colossal tower to mind, the biblical Tower of Babel, said to have been built about the time of the “generations of Noah,” when the people were “all of one language and culture.”
As written in the Book of Genesis: “Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered upon the face of the whole earth.”
Let’s not think that the purpose of this tower is to “reach into heaven,” as was idea of the Tower of Babel.
But vanity does have a role in these kinds of projects, the like of which are now commonplace in the Persian Gulf region; and often said to be at the expense of the local environment, as Dubai’s artificial island projects are reported to be.
Perhaps there are better ways to use the wealth that is still being generated by the production and sale of fossil fuels. One idea is ensuring that all people in the Middle East have access to fresh water.