Burj Dubai, the world's tallest tower that stands at 828 metres high, was inaugurated on Monday by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammad, who sprang a surprise by renaming the skyscraper 'Burj Khalifa', after the United Arab Emirates president Sheikh Khalifa.
Blazing fireworks and dazzling lights marked the opening of the world's tallest tower that pips all its nearest rivals, including the 101-storey high Taipei Tower in Taiwan.
The Gulf Emirates hopes the launch will pep up its global image, shaken by debt woes.
The steel-and-glass tower was opened by Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid al Maktoum, who also lifted the veil on a closely guarded secret of its final height.
"Emirates has made a mark on the world and Dubai has built something for the world that is built by human beings," Sheikh Mohammed said while announcing the tower open.
According to a giant screen at the opening ceremony, the Khalifa measures 828 metres (2,717 feet), overtaking Taipei 101, which is 508 metres (1,676 feet) high.
The $1.5 billion structure, an "unprecedented" engineering marvel that was thrown open to the public on Monday, was built with a major contribution from India -- a vast labour force.
The steel-and-glass tower was opened by Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid al Maktoum, who also lifted the veil on a closely guarded secret of its final height. Declaring that the tower is 818 metres (2,684 feet) high, the new building pips all its nearest rivals, including the 101-storey high Taipei Tower in Taiwan.
Sheikh Mohammad inaugurated the tower in a colourful ceremony featuring dazzling laser lights, fireworks display and a choreographed water display on the Dubai fountains which stretch for 275 metres at the foot of the tower.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a special message of felicitation to Sheikh Mohammed on the occasion.
In her message, Clinton said: "Your efforts to create international cooperation in our global economy are an important endeavour. I applaud your commitment to sustainable development."
The Dubai Burj's record seeking builders are also boasting of the highest occupied floor of any building in the world and today the needle-shaped tower ranks taller than north Dakota's Television mast.
Emaar Properties, the biggest developers in the Gulf said only 160 of the 200 floors of the tower would be occupied with the 40 remaining floors left for services. The tower will have 1,044 apartments and 49 floors of office space serviced by 57 high-speed lifts. Sheikh Mohammad inaugurated the tower in a colourful ceremony featuring dazzling laser lights, fireworks display and a choreographed water display on the Dubai fountains which stretch for 275 metres at the foot of the tower.
Burj Dubai's building cost is estimated $ .5 billion, with 90 percent of the building already sold. That comes out to more than $9 million per floor.
Occupying a pride of place on the Burj will be a leading Indian businessman in the country, B R Shetty, chief of the NMC Group. Shetty will be occupying 100th floor of Burj Dubai.
The spire is billed as a 'vertical city' of luxury apartments and offices. It boasts four swimming pools, a private library and a hotel designed by Giorgio Armani.
Work on the world's new tallest building started in 2004 and at times new floors were being added almost every three days.
Over 14,000 labourers have worked on several floors of the tower giving final touches to the high-rise, with more than half of them coming from India, a construction official had said recently.
The opening of the spectacular tower comes after the ones booming real estate sector in the Emirates has crashed, halving the value of most of Dubai properties in comparison with peak prices, when they were selling for a staggering $1,900 per square foot. The city state has now turned to its oil-rich neighbour Abu Dhabi for a series of bailouts totalling $25 billion to help cover debts amassed by state-linked companies.
Burj developer Emaar is itself partly owned by the government, but has not received any emergency cash. "The Burj Dubai opening would have a positive impact on the first three quarters of 2010," said Chairman Emaar Properties, Mohamed Alabbar, who held a media briefing for the opening of the skyscraper.
Alabbar told media that there were no plans to merge with Nakheel, after the company cancelled a merger with Dubai Holding in December.
Image: The 818-m tall Burj Dubai/ Photograph: Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters