Dubai’s Construction Projects Reach for the Sky

December 06, 2007 11:55 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
As part of its continuing effort to position itself as a luxury brand, the emirate of Dubai is spending billions of dollars on remarkable construction projects that have divided architectural critics.

30-Second Summary

The Burj Dubai, scheduled for completion next year, has already beat out Toronto’s CN Tower to become the world’s tallest manmade structure, a distinction that the Canadian attraction held for 31 years.

The behemoth that is the Burj Dubai is just one of a bevy of headline-grabbing construction projects backed by partially state-run development firms in the emirate.

Emaar, the firm behind the Burj Dubai, and Nakheel—the builder of the Palm Islands, an artificial archipelago off the Dubai coast—have drawn international attention and garnered alliances with worldwide brands such as Armani and Trump. Armani plans to build its first hotel in the Burj Dubai, and the Palm Trump International Tower and Hotel is to be built at the base of the Palm Jumeirah, one of the Palm Islands.

As Dubai rides a seemingly endless glut of petrodollars, the emirate continues to pour cash into real estate and construction, hoping to retain talented locals and to attract more capital from East Asian and Western markets.

On the down side, the projects have drawn some critical attention with regard to employment practices. The International Herald Tribune recently ran a story about the harsh conditions endured by the day laborers who do most of the construction work in Dubai.

This year, the laborers, most of whom herald from South Asia, went on strike, protesting unpaid wages, filthy accommodation and being forced to work in extreme weather.

Thousands of construction employees refused to work from March through November, putting a dent in the progress of projects.

As 33-year-old Indian pipe fitter Jonson Joy said, “Man is only a machine here.”

Headline Links: Dubai establishes an iconic skyline

Background: Emaar and Nakheel

Historical Context: Buying into the U.S. economy

Opinion & Analysis: Workers go on strike

Reference Material: Dubai mega-projects

Related Topics: The myriad investments of the UAE

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