World's tallest building opens and other Dubai ridiculousness

Burj Khalifa, the world's largest building, opened today in Dubai, measuring 2,717 feet tall. The building sports the highest observatory deck, pool, restaurant and fountain in the world and houses a hotel by Giorgio Armani, luxury apartments, private library and another three pools.

The price tag on this bad mamma jamma? About $1.5 billion.  And they wonder why Dubai is undergoing a giant financial meltdown?

Here's a look at the other ridiculousness Dubai has spent their money on:

 1. The Palm Islands -- The Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, drew a sketch of a palm tree, realizing its fronds would provide more beach frontage than a traditional circular island. And since three is always better than one, they decided to create a trilogy of islands: Palm Jumeirah, Palm Deira, and Palm Jebel Ali. Only one island has made it to completion after eight years of construction, Palm Jumeirah, with the price tag of over $12.3 billion to construct and a hefty continuous sum to maintain.

 2. The World Islands -- You thought creating three islands was crazy? Nah! This cooky emirate wants a REAL show of wealth, so they decided to replicate the world with 300 man-made islands off the coast of Dubai. Just like with the Palms, they dredged sand from the sea to build these islands at the tune of about $14 billion (an estimate from 2005). It's so big you can actually see it from space (or so Dubai's tourism Web site claims).

 3.  Dubai Metro -- We all understand the need for a good, or even barely decent, public transportation system. But once again, it seems as though this project went just a smidgeon too far. Of the four lines planned (Red, Green, Purple and Blue) only one has opened -- the Red line. The costs have shot up about 80 percent from $4.2 billion to $7.6 billion, and believe you me, the costs will continue to rise for this project before the full metro is running.

 4. Dubai Marina -- Entirely man-made once again, this marina will cover 25 acres, including six apartment towers (Dubai Marina Towers) and 64 luxury villas connected by a network of rooftop gardens that are divided around each tower. Once it's completed the tourism site claims it will be the largest marina in the world. Cost? Estimates range from $300 million for just phase one to over $4 billion for full completion of the project.

Other insanely large and overly extravagant landmarks in Dubai that are privately-funded:

Mall of Arabia -- a mall set to cover 10 million sq. feet (privately funded)
Dubailand -- An entertainment complex set to be twice the size of Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.
Burj Al Arab -- A suite-only luxury hotel standing 1,050 feet tall.

I'll give you this, it sounds like a wonderland, too bad it's in the middle of a desert with searing heat and now the entire emirate is going into a financial crisis about 1000 times worse than ours! At least it'd still be fun to visit, that is if you get enough sleeping pills to make you forget the 15-hour airplane ride over there.

For more on Dubai tourism and landmarks, visit their tourism site.

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