Dubai Skyscraper Closes In On Tallest Building In Mideast

The Burj Dubai skyscraper under construction here reached its 100th story on Tuesday, nearly two-thirds of the way in its relentless climb to become the world's tallest building.

With 3,000 laborers adding a new floor nearly every three days, the $1 billion spire is days away from surpassing a neighboring skyscraper that is currently the tallest in the Middle East, Dubai-based developer Emaar Properties said.

"The tower is a symbol of the city's pride and a statement of our arrival on the global scene as one of the world-class cities," Emaar chairman Mohammed Ali Alabbar said.

When finished in two years, the silvery steel-and-glass building is expected to rise beyond 2,300 feet and more than 160 floors — dozens of stories taller than the world's current tallest building, the Taipei 101 tower in Taiwan, which measures 1,671 feet and 101 floors.

It will also top the world's tallest freestanding structure, Toronto's CN Tower, which stands 1,815 feet.

Emaar isn't releasing its plans for the final height of the Burj Dubai so it can add more stories if a competing developer mounts a challenge. Predictions on skyscraper Web sites say the cylindrical Burj, which was designed by American architect Adrian Smith, will eventually loom over the city from a height of 2,600 feet or more.

Until the 1960s, the United Arab Emirates was an impoverished desert country whose residents survived through subsistence fishing, farming and small-time trade.

After it became rich from oil, Dubai began building skyscrapers to gain international prestige, not, like Hong Kong and New York, because of a shortage of land. But Dubai's skyscraper binge has jacked up land prices so much that tall buildings are now the only feasible use of coveted building lots in the city's central district.

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