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What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

A lot. And experts say that it is going to be a while before people around the world start calling Burj Dubai, “Burj Khalifa.”

January 5, 2010 12:10 by

The world’s tallest building is finally open. In a bright and spectacular ceremony, Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum inaugurated the great tower on January 4. And, in a surprise move, he announced that it was to be renamed “Burj Khalifa.”

Sheikh Mohammed said that the tower, formerly Burj Dubai, was renamed after Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed, president of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi, and that it “reflected greatness.”

And it is a great achievement; the building – now revealed to be 828 meters tall – took five years to build and was worked on by around 12,000 people. According to developer Emaar Properties, it cost a hefty $1.5 billion.

The burj was originally intended to put Dubai on the world map, and more recently (in the aftermath of the city’s debt problems) many people have seen it as a symbol that Dubai can rise again. So it came as a surprise and a shock when it was renamed Burj Khalifa.

Some international media reports are speculating that Abu Dhabi’s financial support (bailing out Dubai after the emirate’s debt crisis) had something to do with the renaming. Officials have chosen to ignore this suggestion, however, saying instead that the new name will help integrate the unity of the UAE as a country.

Abed Bibi managing partner of branding agency Wolff Olins in Dubai, agrees. “I think this was a very good move to show the connection between the cities [in the UAE], which is great. It will only boost the UAE and not any particular city. So I think the strategy worked well,” he says.

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  1. Andrew on January 5, 2010 1:06 pm

    Making sure your kanduras are all freshly dry cleaned; $200
    Going to Dubai with all your mates for a party; $20,000
    Paying off your cousins debts; $10,000,000,000
    Getting your name on the tallest bit of bling in the world; Priceless.

    There are some things money can’t buy, for everything else there’s Wastacard.

  2. Mohamed on January 6, 2010 6:06 am

    Andrew, your comment only shows how tasteless and shallow the concept of “free expersion” has become.

    Please spare us the hidden attacks, bigotry and disgruntal attitude you may have as an expat in the UAE. If you have an agenda or message you’d like to make known, then please do share. And please don’t forget logic and objectivity on your way back.

  3. Andrew on January 6, 2010 7:40 am

    Mohamed, your comment only shows how tasteless and shallow the concept of “free expersion” (sic) has become.

    I’ve lived here for almost 20 years and I love it, simple as. However I still believe I have the right to say what I want. My only agenda is to be myself, it seems *your* agenda is to ensure people only say what you want them to.

    Logic and objectivity? Please son, you’ve clearly never been introduced.

  4. Sue on January 6, 2010 7:59 am

    Andrew, for someone who has lived here for 20 years you must have
    either enjoyed yourself totally or you can’t afford the same standard of
    living in your home country. So why such bitterness?

  5. Dave on January 6, 2010 8:11 am

    My guess is anyone who has been shafted through “wasta” will be a bit bitter. Be it in jobs, or being deceived in business, or a traffic offender who “magically” becomes a victim….

    In my experience, expats generally become cynical (like Andrew), or spineless sycophants, hoping to have some spare change thrown their way.

    There is no reason why the latter is somehow better than the former.

  6. Mohamed on January 6, 2010 8:58 am

    First off, just for the record, I’m up for anyone saying anything about anything. I’m just disappointed at the lack of depth put in the argument / comment. Come on, let’s talk in more objective terms…not subjective.

    20 years in the UAE is a long time, I’ve been here 28 years now. I think I’d know the area by now.

    But I still think that I’m very much entitled to call out people (as Dave had so eloquently mentioned as): “the cynical, or spineless sycophants, hoping to have some spare change thrown their way.”

    Let’s just bring in a more constructive conversation, as opposed to the flaming on alot of the boards, almost all of which not even tackling the points at hand.

    And Andrew…when replying…please don’t generalize. :-)

    No hard feelings, as I don’t mean to target people….some people have the knack of targeting themselves….strange but true.

  7. Dave on January 6, 2010 10:36 am

    When most “constructive conversation” on Burj Khalifa consists of endless platitudes to the tune of “This will be the greatest achievement of this milleniunm” , and “The only 2 words on the whole planet’s mouth is Burj Dubai”, we are bound to get cynical comments in return.

    Have a look at most online websites and their comments, and you will find more people belonging to the “spineless sycophants” category.

  8. Mohamed on January 6, 2010 12:29 pm

    Well said Dave…and quite true. It can work both ways.

    It is my personal belief that Dubai would eventually evolve into a more sustainable and mature development model.

    Burj Khalifa (symbolically) is more of the start of a new Dubai, that would both compete and use the base that was already started. It will be about adding adding more value to what is already there. It will be a long path, and an un-easy one, but growth is not an imposibility considering Dubai’s history which had always pre-dated the real-estate boom of the previous 5 years. That’s something worth thinking about.

  9. Miss Anne Thropic on January 6, 2010 3:54 pm

    No, Mohamed, the Burj Khalifa is a symbol of what Dubai was trying to be once upon a time. Until the emirate over-capitalised, got into reckless debt and built too many flats and didn’t consider that there will never be enough people to live in them all.

  10. Andrew on January 6, 2010 6:41 pm

    Choking with laughter at the accusation of bitterness, but in saying that Dave is right about me being a cynic. However I’ve been that way my entire life and living here hasn’t changed that, if anything the cynic in me delights at all the stuff that goes on here, I get far better laughs from it than anything on tv or in print.

    The renaming of the building is quite obviously a direct consequence of Abu Dhabi’s continued support of Dubai, so I’m afraid I’m going to call it out when it’s denied, and consequently have a little giggle over it.

  11. Mohamed on January 7, 2010 5:37 am

    I understand your statement Anne. That may have been the initial intent for Dubai. Trying to become the new home for many, but that certainly didn’t materialize.

    My impression is on what the current situation is, sure we can say that it “was” trying to epitomize the height of the real estate boom in the form of Burj Khalifa, but that certainly isn’t the case given the current scenario.

    Dubai is now transitioning towards a more viable economic and growth model, and this has started already. My point is that the events leading to the launch of Burj Khalifa were not necessarily the same events back in the good ol’ cityscape days of real estate. It was a message to media outlets and the world alike that Dubai is still alive, and more importantly apart of a federation of the UAE.

    Many people have been aiming at Dubai, and at times generalizing the overall UAE in terms of what had happened in Dubai…but that is certainly not the case in other emirates, and especially Abu Dhabi…where growth is steadily increasing.

    I’m quite sure that many lessons have been learned, and corrective measures taken (and still being taken).

  12. Andrew on January 7, 2010 7:38 am

    And emphasising the message that Dubai is part of the federation of the UAE is at odds with Dubai’s own previous marketing, which has done almost everything it can to brand it separate from the Emirates.

    Abu Dhabi is now bringing its uppity neighbour to heel.

  13. Mohamed on January 7, 2010 8:33 am

    I think that point had been very much acknowledged / established by the Dubai leadership for quite sometime now Andrew. No doubt that the naming of the Burj coincides with the assistance of Abu Dhabi, and is probably the only catalyst that lead to it being named after the ruler of Abu Dhabi…no need for denials there. It’s was big local news here too.

    Which brings me back to the “wasta” comment and it’s irrelevance to the whole topic…since if you look at it, you didn’t really need “wasta” to get a name on the Burj. That’s the funny part. Dubai’s was bailed out from the UAE capital, which has the federal budget of the seven Emirates…so heck…why not a tribute…seems fair to me don’t you think? The two may be different Emirates, but they are part of a federation too. Brand Dubai / Abu Dhabi can continue to do what they like, but fact is that there is the underlying union amongst the alliance of the seven Emirates, which you might not be seeing here. It’s bound by a constitution.

    They are not seperate entities.

    Something to think about there.

  14. Andrew on January 7, 2010 8:59 am

    “Ten billion dollar bailout” can’t by rhymed with “Master”.

    You’re preaching to the converted, good to see Dubai is finally singing from the same page as Abu Dhabi, although for a long time it tried not to.

  15. Mohamed on January 7, 2010 9:44 am

    I don’t think stating fact constitutes as “preaching”, however, I’ll leave it to you to judge. You’re analogy there is indeed funny.

    It’s obvious where you’re trying to lead this discussion Andrew, but you can be rest assured that your view on the matter isn’t as obtuse or silly as you’re implying. Dubai’s independence from Abu Dhabi is something of a model to the other UAE emirates, and something Abu Dhabi’s respects and encourages. There is an inter-dependence of the emirates that people like you don’t see. We watch too many TV-shows with conspiracies… and the like. I do admit people living mundane lives; would like to make it like a great soap opera (media outlets have been jumping that band wagon for sometime now). But sadly, it’s a lot more boring in reality.

    So my advice is to just quit treating the two like mutually exclusive entities (countries). Believe me it makes more sense. LoL.

  16. Andrew on January 7, 2010 10:43 am

    To be fair mate, not even I have an idea where this conversation is being lead. The fact you seem to know is mightily impressive, care to clue me in?


  17. DeniseTheMenace on January 7, 2010 11:13 am

    I am enjoying Kipp for a change…..ANDREW, the forever cynical critic (but who still prefers to reside in UAE, correct me if I’m wrong) & MOHAMED, the stubbornly honest (who also loves his stay here in UAE, not sure if you’re an expat or otherwise…) Well, keep it up guys (in your spare time) I sort of enjoy the two differing views. We had a famous quote from CEO of my ex-employer : In Board Meetings (and Life !) DISSENT IS WELCOME !!!!
    Keep Smiling.

  18. Mohamed on January 7, 2010 12:10 pm

    @ DeniseTheMenace: LOL! I do hope that it’s thought provoking. Dissent should always be welcomed . Otherwise, it’ll be a boring discussion

    @Andrew: Come on Andrew, it was written all over my last reply! Surely, you should’ve been able to pick it up by now. Either that, or your form of sarcasm has indeed reached new hieghts of perfection.

    But can I get a cynic to understand, that really is a challenge.

  19. Andrew on January 7, 2010 1:01 pm

    I just put the cat amongst the opinions, it’s been all you since then. Since then I’ve just been working with whatever you give me.

  20. Mohamed on January 7, 2010 1:25 pm

    Well I could’ve sworn that you were trying to dodge the main points there. I still don’t seem to have straight answers. I do however thank you for the Cat.

    It’s just that I’ve never had a marathon of non-objective responses for a hobby. I do think I’ve got a lot to learn there. But…with the right company…I just think it might be worthwhile.


  21. Andrew on January 7, 2010 3:04 pm

    Less hobby, more profession.

  22. andrwmohameed on January 9, 2010 2:33 pm

    it seems the only persons intrested in this is andrw and mohamed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Mike on January 11, 2010 3:27 am

    Since its inception, Dubai was constantly at odds with Abu Dhabi. In 1947, a border dispute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi on the northern sector of their mutual border, escalated into war. Arbitration by the British and the creation of a buffer frontier running south eastwards from the coast at Ras Hasian resulted in a temporary cessation of hostilities.
    Border disputes between the emirates continued even after the formation of the UAE; it was only in 1979 that a formal compromise was reached that ended hostilities


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