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It isn’t lonely at the top
China, Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan are all vying to out-build each other in the race to erect the tallest building in the world. What’s pushing these countries to the brink of the stratosphere?
June 13, 2012 5:46 by Priyanka Pradhan
China has just announced that it will furbish the tallest building in the world, just a few months after Saudi Arabia stated that its upcoming ‘Kingdom Tower’ will rise one kilometer into the sky. Soon after, Azerbaijan declared it wants to eclipse Dubai’s 828m-tall Burj Khalifa by a full 27 percent, presumably to enjoy the best birds’ eye view, ever. From Kipp’s point of view, it looks like these countries are gearing up just to see who’s head is farther up in the clouds.
It will be interesting to watch the drama unfold. Will China beat its competitors in erecting the tallest building in the world in just seven months? Will it come with a ‘no guarantee’ disclaimer too, considering The Burj Khalifa took six years to build the same? Will the UAE sit back and sulk or will it come up with something else to amaze (and amuse) the world?
However, the more important question to be asked is “What’s the point?” Is it the prospect of having the perfect vantage point to spot the aliens first, if and when they attack our planet? Or do these countries actually believe this brick-and- tar building is going to help them scale new heights?
Saudi Arabia, for instance, is confident that the Kingdom Tower will catapult the country into a different league. “We intend Kingdom Tower to become both an economic engine and a proud symbol of the Kingdom’s economic and cultural stature in the world community,” said Al-Maiman, Member of the Jeddah Economic Company (JEC). Sure, the country’s somewhat questionable reputation due to its forms of punishment including public flogging and restrictions on women will be compensated for, by the vertigo-inducing height of the building, it seems.
China’s ‘Sky City’ in Changsa, the ambitious project, slated to be completed within a ridiculously short period of time has raised more eyebrows than expectations. The country has made the tall claim of doing in six months, what Dubai took six years to do. Do we sense a hint of arrogance? Even the seemingly reticent Azerbaijan is hoping to attract the world’s attention with a large shiny object- even if it takes a mammoth 1050-meter structure and two billion dollars to do it.
Needless to say, such excesses put a considerable amount of pressure on a country’s coffers. The Burj Khalifa, for instance, came with a price tag of $1.5 billion, the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah will cost $1.2 billion and the Chinese ‘fast track’ Sky Tower will cost $628 million to complete.
Here’s another question for these countries, “Is it worth it?” China and Saudi Arabia could invest the same money in core socio economic reforms such as education, poverty alleviation and creation of employment opportunities, just to name a few. Azerbaijan could use the money for political reforms and crucial humanitarian issues. Brandishing this big, shiny, super expensive object for the world will not compensate for the real issues in these countries, begging to be addressed and invested in.
It is also important to realize that five years down the line, someone else will declare that theirs is the biggest or tallest or brightest, but a strong and stable economy with a stellar socio economic policy and execution is a tough act to follow. Now isn’t that worth being vertically challenged for?