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Developer: Dubai Tower to open this year

Visitors talk to an exhibitor near a model of world's tallest skyscraper, Burj Dubai, at the Emaar Properties stand at the Cityscape exhibition in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Monday. At least part of the tower will open by year’s end, according to Ahmad al-Matrooshi, managing director of Emaar’s UAE operations. AP Photo by Kamran Jebreili

Visitors talk to an exhibitor near a model of world's tallest skyscraper, Burj Dubai, at the Emaar Properties stand at the Cityscape exhibition in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Monday. At least part of the tower will open by year’s end, according to Ahmad al-Matrooshi, managing director of Emaar’s UAE operations.AP Photo by Kamran Jebreili

Adam Schreck
AP Business Writer

Dubai, United Arab Emirates — The developer building the world’s tallest skyscraper said Monday it is committed to opening the Burj Dubai by year’s end, though a staggered rollout means only part of the silvery tower will be ready at first.

Ahmad al-Matrooshi, managing director of Emaar Properties’ UAE operations, said the opening date is being kept secret to build excitement. But he insisted that major work is nearly complete and that the tower would meet Emaar’s latest deadline to inaugurate the building by the end of December.

“The building is ready. It’s a matter of a few items,” he told The Associated Press in an interview.

Burj Dubai, Arabic for “Dubai Tower,” stands more than 2,600 feet tall. Emaar finished covering the building’s facade last week. It has yet to confirm the tower’s final height.

Al-Matrooshi declined to say how much of the building would be ready to go on opening day. He said the tower would be opened in phases to ensure smooth operation.

“See, you cannot just open a building like this,” he said. “There (are) a lot of operational issues that should be ready. We cannot compromise the quality of the building.”

Meanwhile, work on another highly anticipated skyscraper in the struggling Arab boomtown — a gleaming luxury hotel by Donald Trump meant as a centerpiece for Dubai’s original palm-shaped island — looks likely to remain on hold.

Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said he would like to see work on the Trump International Hotel & Tower get under way in two years, but acknowledged “it’s going to take some time” for the project to be restarted.

“When it makes sense, we want to go forward with it,” Trump said. “I wouldn’t say it’s going to happen any time soon.”

The Trump hotel is being built by Dubai state-owned developer Nakheel. It stopped work on the glass-clad structure and numerous other projects, including some of its man-made islands, over the past year as property prices plummeted and cash dried up.

The executives spoke during the first day of Dubai’s Cityscape property expo, traditionally one of the highlights of the sheikdom’s business calendar.

Thin crowds and toned-down exhibits — at least by Dubai’s over-the-top standards — left the event far quieter than in years past, reflecting a crippling slowdown in Dubai’s once white-hot property market.

Hundreds of multimillion-dollar projects have been put on hold as speculators who made easy cash flipping properties disappeared and builders struggled to secure financing for projects — even those already well under way.

Organizers say exhibitors are taking up nearly a third less space than they did last year, and expect attendance to drop by 20 percent.

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