World's tallest building opens in Dubai
Thousands of people gathered in Dubai on Monday evening to celebrate the opening of the world's tallest building, now called the Burj Khalifa, after UAE President Sheikh Khalifa, dpa reported.
The tower had hitherto been called the Burj Dubai, but after a few brief remarks, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid pulled aside a curtain covering a plaque commemorating the inauguration of the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan Tower.
Sheikh Khalifa, the ruler of the neighbouring city-state of Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, stayed close by the side of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Dubai's ruler throughout the ceremony.
The event began with children singing as Sheikh Mohammed entered. Men performed a traditional sword dance while others glided into the ceremony on parachutes emblazoned with the UAE flag and its rulers' images. A similarly festooned hot-air balloon floated quietly into the night air.
As an orchestra played, a video screen proclaimed the building's height after years of mystery: 828 metres, a full 319 metres taller than the Taipei 101 tower, formerly the world's tallest building.
A spectacular, synchronised, light, fountain and fireworks display greeted the climax, with fireworks shooting off the sides of the building.
Designed by British architect Adrian Smith, the complex includes 1,000 residences, 160 luxury hotel rooms, and 37 office floors with corporate suites.
The long-awaited opening of the tower had dominated television reports across the Arab world on Monday.
The event has provided some welcome publicity for the emirate, a month after the state-owned holding company Dubai World said it would needed a repayment freeze on its debt of 59 billion dollars.