There’s no denying that the Burj Khalifa is impressive. Not all that much short of a kilometre high, it’s easily the highest building on Earth.
It loses some of the lustre, though, when you think about what it actually is. This building makes no economic sense, it was built on borrowed money by a country that couldn’t afford the debt (the construction company is part owned by the Emirate). Property values have plunged in Dubai and there is a huge amount of unused capacity built during the boom. Dubai’s other mega-projects, like the stupid ‘World’ artificial islands have been abandoned. Burj Khalifa simply had the luck to be far enough along when the bubble burst that it was still worth completing.
It makes no environmental sense, in a country that has no water, that has to extract it from the sea at a cost greater than refining petrol, this building has used obscene amounts of energy and water in its construction and will use evermore in the coming years.
And, perhaps worst, the workers who build Dubai’s ridiculous buildings are effectively slaves. Brought over from India and Bangladesh as indentured labourers (they have to repay their bosses for the cost of getting to Dubai) their passports are taken off them and wages are often far less than promised, when they are paid at all, while work and living conditions are far worse. These workers have no way to leave Dubai and are forced to work for unethical bosses in dangerous conditions while their home countries turn a blind eye. In 2005, 950 Indian nationals died in Dubai – then the consulate stopped counting. When workers try to stnad up against this treatment, the Dubai Police attack them. (read more about it here)
Maybe the likes of Farrar can’t wait to spend an obscene amount to stay in an environmental affront owned by a dictator and built by modern-day slaves, but that’s just not for me. I wouldn’t want to be part of that.