Dubai’s illusions of grandeur
At 828 meters, the Burj Khalifa stands tall and proud as Dubai’s prized landmark and the world’s tallest, possibly glitziest building; but behind the glittering façade is the sordid story of struggle and disappointment. And Dubai’s extravagant, ostentatious outlook might have something to do with it.
July 22, 2012 2:19 by Priyanka Pradhan
Seven months ago on new year’s eve, Dubai spent millions of dollars to stage a spectacular display of fireworks at the Burj Khalifa, presumably to position it as one of the world’s most dazzling (and dizzying) places to be at. The histrionics, which were broadcasted LIVE for the world to see, were replete with cinematography slick enough to put any major Hollywood production to shame. There was also this other achievement of having a renowned movie star scale the building in an action scene, a feat that put Dubai’s landmark in the spotlight yet again.
But apart from celebrities perched precariously atop the roof, enormous quantity of gunpowder and the ‘wow’ effect that lasted for all of ten minutes when the clock struck 12, there was little else the Burj khalifa could be ecstatic about. 2011, the year gone by, was marred with enough losses, empty spaces and dwindling interest from investors, to take the sheen out of Dubai’s most glamorous address.
Even now, halfway into 2012, about two thirds of the commercial units at the Burj Khalifa, more than 20 floors are still looking for takers. Real estate prices at the Burj Khalifa have plummeted from highs of $2,450 per-square-foot to around $721 per-square foot, offering a gloomy forecast for sellers and cautioning potential investors.
Apart from fact that the purse strings of multinational companies are tightly drawn, given the economic climate in Europe, companies are now apprehensive about investing in office space here in order not to appear too flamboyant, over the top and glamorous in these unstable times. Moreover, real estate prices have picked up by 10%, making real estate at the Burj Khalifa double the price of properties in the vicinity.
It’s high time the Dubai Government, which owns 31% of the building, does some damage control and by that, we mean, wake up from those illusions of grandeur and land on planet Earth with a hard thump. Yes, it is an 800 meter slide down to reality, but investors will come back once the Burj Khalifa wipes off that pretentious gloss, takes off those rose tinted glasses and gets down to business.