Business | Construction

Investors rush to save giant tower

224-storey structure to be relocated after objections.

  • By Saifur Rahman, Business Editor
  • Published: 22:45 September 17, 2009
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • Architect Tommy Landau with a portrayal of the Al Imlaq tower, expected to be the world's tallest.

Dubai: Investors behind a planned 224-storey tower to be built on an island in Abu Dhabi are looking at relocating the project, preferably to another plot in Abu Dhabi or Saudi Arabia, Gulf News has learnt.

The fate of the tower hangs in the balance as the authorities appear to have rejected the project due to the impact its present location would have on air navigation.

California-based architect Tommy Landau was hired by a group of investors to build Al Imlaq, or The Giant - a 224-storey skyscraper that would far surpass all others in the world.

Although the height of the project remains a secret, it could cost up to $3.5 billion.

The project proposal was submitted to Dr Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saif Al Nahyan, who had asked his team to investigate its feasibility.

"His engineering staff members have objected to its location as it would affect air navigation. At the moment, it's in limbo," Fayez Barakat, who runs Barakat Gallery of antiquities in Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, Beverly Hills in California and Brook Street, London - representing the investors' group, told Gulf News yesterday.

"We are trying to shift its location. It could either be in another location in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia or even Morocco. We are talking to various people."

The race to build the world's tallest tower intensified in the Gulf in recent years when the real estate sector was booming.

A shocked Landau told Gulf News he wasn't aware of the latest development. "Oh! I did not know that," he said.

Emaar Properties' Burj Dubai was challenged by its domestic rival Nakheel which planned a one-kilometre tall tower - Nakheel Harbour Tower.

This was followed by a 1.4-km tower planned by Kingdom Holding International owned by Saudi billionaire Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal.

However, a steep correction in the property sector due to the global economic slump has forced them to abandon all of them, leaving Burj Dubai to hold the record as the world's tallest tower for a few years longer than expected.

Landau, a former soldier and part-time cartoonist, runs his architectural design firm, Landau Partnership, in Santa Monica, California.

"I have been hired by investors to develop the design for the world's tallest tower and that's what I've done," Landau, 72, said earlier.

"The interest by Abu Dhabi officials and the investors is pretty strong."

He said the project an engineering challenge by any definition - won't be a challenge for him, instead rather 'fun'.

"No, actually. It's fun. I've been in this business for over 40 years& and this is another project for me," he said.

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