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Dubai opens tallest tower in the world

City A.M. Reporter
DUBAI’S Emaar Properties yesterday opened the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, marking the completion of the last of its big local landmark projects and the start of a new strategy which is expected to focus on overseas projects.

“We will be focusing on our subsidiaries -- hospitals and hospitality -- which will create a lot of revenues for Emaar and also work on wherever we have started projects [overseas],” Issam Galadari, chief executive of Emaar Dubai said.

Emaar, 31.2 per cent owned by the Dubai government, is the Arab world’s largest listed developer, but is less indebted than other Dubai property firms, with about 8.1bn dirhams ($1.37bn) of loans and borrowings outstanding as of September 2009, of which about half is due this year.

Last year it posted a 53 per cent rise in third-quarter net operating profit to 655m dirhams, beating most analysts’ forecasts thanks to higher sales of its high-end properties.

The performance contrasted with that of troubled compatriot Nakheel which has seen earnings collapse and its liabilities rise to $20bn (£12.4bn).

Following Monday’s opening the $1.5bn tower’s first residents are due to move in next month and Emaar’s chairman, Mohammed Alabbar, said 90 per cent of the properties in the tower have been sold. The firm is set to get a 10 per cent yield on its investment and the completion will boost earnings in 2010.

The owners of the tower say the building is 828 metres high.

“Emaar’s story has been about Dubai and the high end (of the property market). It has been a survivor compared to the two main developers Nakheel and Dubai Properties,” said Saud Masud of UBS.