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A mere wobble, or are the cracks showing?

A mere wobble, or are the cracks showing?

Leaking aquariums, faulty elevators, closed observation decks… Are the problems at Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa normal, or a sign of something more serious?


February 27, 2010 11:09 by

A small leak at the Dubai Mall aquarium prompted a tidal-wave of snarky press reports (ominously, a total of 666 articles, according to Google News), in yet another PR disaster for the emirate.

Water from the 2.6m-gallon tank was pictured pouring on to the mall’s polished floors, as sharks in the aquarium continued to circle above – the symbolism of which was not lost on some.

Despite the leak having been fixed, the incident raises some fresh questions about standards of construction and building safety in Dubai. A few weeks ago, Emaar (which is also the developer behind Dubai Mall) closed the observation deck at the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, after visitors got trapped in an elevator. Despite promising to reopen last week, the observation deck remains closed; staff members at the attraction told Kipp it will reopen in “the first week of March”, but could not give an exact date.

Of course, it is not uncommon for new construction projects to experience teething problems. Memorably, the Millennium Bridge in London was forced to close for more than 18 months after it started swaying when pedestrians walked over it. Although the problem was fixed, the crossing is still known as the ‘Wobbly Bridge’ among Londoners.

So the question is, are the construction faults at the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa mere glitches, which will be resolved in time? Or are the cracks just starting to show?


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