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World’s tallest tower to open this year

Adam Schreck
AP Business Writer

Dubai, United Arab Emirates — The Middle Eastern developer building the world’s tallest skyscraper vowed Monday to complete the tower by year’s end, though the exact date remains uncertain.

Completing the spindly structure, visible for miles around, would give Emaar Properties and its hometown Dubai a significant public relations boost at a time when both are reeling from a severe property slump exacerbated by the global recession.

In a brief e-mailed statement attributed to Emaar Properties, the company said the shiny metal and glass Burj Dubai “is scheduled to open this year.”

“More details on the official launch will be provided in due course,” a response attributed to the company stated. Emaar did not make officials available for comment.

The company previously said the more than 2,600-foot building, whose name in Arabic means “Dubai Tower,” would open in September. That deadline now appears in doubt, as parts of its facade still appear incomplete.

The developer has kept many details of the project secret, including its final height. Little is known about the amount of work still needed to outfit the building’s approximately 160 floors.

Abu Dhabi’s The National newspaper, citing conversations with two unnamed contractors working on the project, reported Monday that much work remains to be completed and that the skyscraper’s opening would be delayed until December.

Greg Sang, Emaar’s project manager, declined to comment further when contacted by The Associated Press.
Emaar’s profits and share price have taken a beating from falling property prices in Dubai and elsewhere.

The company’s stock price fell nearly 6 percent to finish at 62 cents on the Dubai Financial Market following reports of a possible delay to its signature project Monday.

The developer last week shut an office overseeing $20 billion worth of real estate projects in Algeria, citing “a lack of progress which is beyond the company’s control.”

In February, the company’s John Laing Homes division in the U.S. filed for bankruptcy protection, citing a weakening demand for new homes. A month later, Emaar said it would run its Indonesian operations from its Dubai headquarters rather than the capital Jakarta.

The developer last year pushed back the opening date of a huge shopping center near the Burj Dubai just a day before the widely anticipated mall was due to open.

Emaar is also trying to engineer a merger with three property companies owned by Dubai’s ruler.

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