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Ships

100 Years Ago Tonight …

Courtesy: ChristopherJordan

This Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ocean liner Titanic. The following is a brief overview of the famous ship’s brief and tragic life.

The story of RMS Titanic begins at a London dinner party in 1907 attended by White Star Line Chairman, J. Bruce Ismay and Lord Pirrie, a partner at shipbuilder Harland and Wolff. Following a discussion of how they might work together to respond to the increasing competition on the North Atlantic sea route, Ismay and Lord Pirrie agreed that Harland and Wolff would build three super liners, Olympic, Titanic and Gigantic (her name was later changed to Britannic).

These three sisters would provide unmatched luxury and safety for transatlantic passengers. While the ships would be fast, they were never intended to challenge for the record Atlantic crossing. At over 45,000 tons, they would be the largest passenger liners ever built. Titanic would be over 883 feet long and could carry over 2,600 passengers.

Passenger accommodations consisted of the following:
First class – 416 rooms, 928 berths, 106 sofas and 554 seats in the saloon
Second class – 162 rooms, 510 berths and sofas and 402 seats in the saloon
Third class – 982 in rooms, 40 open berths and 473 seats in the saloon

Construction on the first of the three sisters, Olympic, began in late 1908. Work on her sister, Titanic began a year later in March of 1909. Because of the ships size, both the facilities in Belfast, where the ships were built and New York, their North American destination, had to be expanded. Titanic was launched in May of 1911 and spent the next 11 months fitting out at the Harland and Wolf shipyards. A total of three million rivets were used on her hull, and each of her anchors weighed approximately 8 tons.

Titanic’s maiden voyage was originally scheduled for March 20, 1912, but in February of that year, her sister Olympic lost a propeller blade and had to return to the shipyard for emergency repair. As a consequence, resources were temporarily pulled from the Titanic project, and the ship’s maiden voyage was delayed until April 10, 1912. Titanic did not sail at full capacity on her maiden voyage. A total of 337 passengers sailed in first class, 271 in second class and 712 in third class, or steerage. Most third class passengers were emigrants from Ireland, England, France, Poland, Scandinavia, Italy and the Middle and Far East.

While many writers (and web sites) claim that the builders dubbed her “unsinkable”, there is no record that White Star or her captain Edward J. Smith ever using those words to describe Titanic. It is more likely that this unfortunate, and inaccurate, label was applied by the popular press at the time and over the years it became attributed to both the captain and White Star.

The reality was that Titanic offered her passengers the latest in shipbuilding technology with a double hull and a total of 16 water-tight compartments that were designed to keep her afloat even if up to 4 of them became flooded. While she carried more than the required number of lifeboats for the time, the regulations in effect in 1912 had not been updated to deal with ships of Titanic’s size and as a result, her 20 lifeboats only had space for approximately 1,200 of the 2,600 passengers she was expected to carry.

In addition to the latest technology, she also provided her passengers some of most luxurious services and accommodations available. To keep passengers occupied during the crossings she had an indoor swimming pool, a squash court, a gymnasium and even a Turkish Bath. To help passengers stay in contact with business or friends at home, she was equipped with a Marconi radio transmitter and receiver which was staffed 24 hours a day. The facilities in the first class staterooms were unmatched at sea and even rivaled many of the finest shore side accommodations. The quality and variety of food on board was exquisite and the level of service was superb. vIn addition to the formal dining room, Titanic also offered her first class passengers more personal service in the Verandah restaurant where they could order from a special a-la-carte menu. Much like transatlantic crossings today, during days at sea Titanic passengers could enjoy music, stroll along an enclosed promenade, or relax in a deck chair with a book selected from an extensive ship’s library.

Accommodations for second class and steerage passengers, while nowhere near the luxury of first class, were nonetheless superior to many of the top accommodations found on other ships.

This new level of luxury and service attracted the elite of British and American society and as a result, Titanic sailed on her maiden voyage with a passenger list that included an unmatched list of celebrities. She also attracted a large number of steerage passengers who were drawn by her size and reputation as a safe ship. While Titanic sported 4 funnels, only three of them were functional – the fourth funnel was added for cosmetic and marketing purposes.

She left Southampton at noon on Wednesday April 10th and proceeded across the English channel to Cherbourg, France where she stopped briefly to pick up additional passengers. Her departure from Southampton was not without incident as Titanic nearly collided with a steamer after the suction of her four propellers snapped the steamer New York’s lines and drew her toward Titanic. Captain Smith avoided the collision by cutting Titanic’s engines and using the port propeller’s wash to keep the ships apart.

In Cherbourg, events went more smoothly and after picking up passengers from tenders, Titanic proceeded northwest to Queenstown, Ireland to pick up her final group of New York-bound passengers. She also dropped off a few very lucky Queenstown-bound passengers. On the evening of April 11th, she left Queenstown and headed out into the Atlantic.

As she headed east, she took the southern track which followed the arc of a great circle from Fastnet rock to the Nantucket Shoals Lightship. This was considered the safest route to avoid the dangers of thick pack ice and large icebergs typically found in more northerly waters at that time of year.

As Captain Smith gradually increased her speed to 22 knots, the experienced passengers on board began to settle into the normal routines of a crossing – getting to know their fellow passengers, exploring the ship, and dressing for diner. Weather was clear and relatively warm, since the winter of 1912 had been uncharacteristically mild. Unfortunately for Titanic, this mild winter had caused an unusually large amount of ice to break away and drift south into the shipping lanes.

With nice weather and smooth seas, passengers in all classes enjoyed four pleasant days at sea. On Sunday, April 14th, the weather began to change and the temperature began to fall. Titanic received at lest five different warnings of ice ahead, but since they had not spotted any ice yet, Captain Smith saw little reason to reduce Titanic’s speed.

Later that evening, the wireless operator received a sixth ice warning, but since he was an employee of Marconi – not White Star – and his primary job was to send passenger’s messages to shore rather than relay messages to the bridge, this final warning was put aside until thing settled down in the wireless room.

Outside the temperature continued to drop but the moonless, star-filled sky remained clear. At 11:40, lookout Fredrick Fleet spotted an iceberg dead ahead. He rang the bridge and First Officer Murdoch responded by ordering Titanic turned hard to port and the engines full astern. As a result, Titanic began a slow turn away from the iceberg. Unfortunately, she was too close and moving too fast, and her starboard side brushed against the berg.

Surprisingly the impact against the iceberg was barely felt by most passengers with many sleeping through the entire incident. A number of the passengers awake at the time thought Titanic had just barely touched the iceberg or missed it completely. Very few believed the ship had been seriously damaged and some even played football with pieces of ice that had fallen from the berg to the ships foredeck.

Contrary to most reports at the time (and for the next 72 years), Titanic did not suffer a “huge gash” but rather an extended separation of her hull plates. The result was a very small, but very long opening to the sea that doomed the ship.

Soon after the collision, Captain Smith summoned the Titanic’s builder, Thomas Andrews to accompany him on a tour of the damage. After visiting the forward section of the ship, Andrews informed Captain Smith that the damage was fatal and that the ship would probably sink within two hours. Ironically, had the lookouts not seen the iceberg and Titanic rammed the berg head-on, the damage would have been limited to her bow compartments and she likely would have made it safely to land.

Just after midnight the crew was instructed to begin waking passengers and advised them to dress warmly, put on their life jackets and report to their lifeboat stations. Since the lifeboats could only accommodate about 1,100 passengers, it was decided that women and children would be put into the boats first.

Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons including, language, location and social class, passengers in second class and steerage did not arrive at their boat stations until much later, after many of the lifeboats had already left. As a consequence, a greater percentage of these passengers perished.

All of the boats were launched by 2:00 am. and the remaining passengers began moving toward the gradually rising stern. As the bow dropped deeper into the cold water the ship’s band continued to play a variety of popular music – although contrary to popular perception it is unlikely they ever played the hymn “Nearer my God to thee”

By 2:10 am, the angle of the deck was so steep that the band could no longer stand to play and they probably joined the growing crowd struggling to climb up the deck. Finally, at 2:15 the weight of the bow section became so heavy that the hull actually fractured and the stern section of the ship separated.

As the water-filled bow plunged toward the bottom, the mostly empty stern, righted itself temporarily and then quickly filled with water and joined the bow on a two and a half mile plunge to the cold Atlantic floor. Of the 2,400 passengers that left for New York on Titanic, only 705 had made it into lifeboats. The remaining 1,502 passengers perished – with many left struggling in the near freezing water.

According to the formal British inquiry, the breakdown of survivors was as follows: First class: 203 (62%) saved, 122 (38%) lost
Second class 118 (41%) saved, 167 (59%) lost
Steerage class 178 (25%) saved, 528 (75%) lost
Crew 212 (24%) saved, 673 (76%) lost

Just before 4:00 am on the morning of April 15th, the survivors saw a faint light on the horizon. Soon thereafter, they saw rockets in the sky fired by the Cunard liner Carpathia. She was the first of the rescue vessels to reach Titanic’s last reported position and she had raced heroically through the night dodging icebergs and the surrounding ice fields in a desperate attempt to reach the stricken liner.

Carpathia began picking up survivors as dawn broke and by mid morning it was over. By 8:30 am all of the surviving passengers and the Titanic’s lifeboats, all that remained of the largest ship afloat, were aboard and she headed for New York. She arrived there on the evening April 18th and was mobbed by hopeful families and a waiting press.

Today Titanic rests on the bottom of the North Atlantic 2 1/2 miles down at approximately – latitude 41o 46’N, longitude 50o 14’W. The wreck was located 73 years after she went down, by Dr. Robert Ballard of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. It was Dr. Ballard who was able to confirm the previous reports that the ship had broken in two before she sank.


Fred Olsen's – Black Watch…

black-watch-038-copya.jpg

black-watch-041-copy.jpg

Black Watch Album I
Black Watch Album II
Black Watch Album III

Today, after sending my boy home full of turkey, I spent the afternoon on board Fred Olsen Cruise Lines – Black Watch. The Former Royal Viking Star. It was a grand day. Above are the links to my online photo albums of the photos I took of the ship. They are linked up to the review I wrote for the Cruise Talk Forum. You never know who you will meet on any given day, but my host from GLP Worldwide, the company that represents Fred Olsen in Canada was a most delightful man. We had such a good time. Come to find out after our visit that he was “Family, AND in recovery.” So we had a mini-meeting in a Tim Horton’s at Palais de Congres. It was a great day…

The ship is 28,613 tons, carries 807 passengers and offers a wide array of cruises, all over the world. I have missed the feeling one gets when on board a ship.

Black Watch is a beautiful vessel. She is smaller than the Mega-Ships that are floating cities at sea. I liked this little ship. It has good flow and decor all over the ship. There is a lot of art to see on board.

There is a lot of sentimental art, statuary and portraits of the Royal Family on board. Each ship has a history and is part of the on board experience.

Black Watch has a very intimate feeling. Her public rooms are much smaller in scale due to lower passenger numbers. I have uploaded over 40 photos of the ship linked below.

I have to say that the cabins range from regular inside cabins to Master suites. Most cabins have 2 lowers in the (L) formation for most cabins. There are double cabins as you move upwards in category.

I found the cabins to be airy, very clean, well appointed and all the cabins have excellent storage facilities for luggage for each cabin. Some of the cabins have beautiful furniture, and lighted closets.

There are single cabins, double cabins, quads and master suites. All the cabins are comfortable, even the i/s cabins.

The intimate nature of the Black Watch lends to a very “community” type cruise experience, I am told. You won’t be alone very long on a Fred Olsen ship if you are sailing alone. Most passengers are repeat passengers and for the most part are very open to sitting with others in community.

I got the sense that the crew on board cared a great deal for their ship. Our guide was very nice and the comradery he shared with the staff was wonderful.

Some lower grade cabins on the o/s have bathtubs, by request when booking. They are well appointed. The standard o/s and i/s cabins have showers with the small lip to keep water in. The upgraded and refitted cabins on the o/s (some have) new bathrooms and furniture.

There are flat screen tv’s in all cabins which play on board programming, BBC and Ship Cam from the bridge, and telephones. Some cabins have DVD players as well.

The junior suites were absolutely wonderful in size and decor. The amenities include fruit baskets, wine and champagne, and assorted chocolates and bottled water. We did not get to see the Master Suites due to the fact they were all occupied.

The junior suites have balconies (some of which are obstructed) and there are also standard o/s category cabins that have balconies. The upper suites have sitting areas, sofas and a large balcony on the upper decks.

There are several dining rooms to choose from – you can dine in the usual first or second seating dining room, which is well appointed and has beautiful picture windows on both sides of the ship. Tables seat couples to large parties. The seating is very comfortable.

For our lunch there was a set menu and of course a hot and cold buffet (salads) and desserts. The food was well presented, hot and very good. There is also a buffet that serves food outside the normal dining seatings. (informal dining )

The public rooms are well appointed. There is a theatre that seats up to 150 passengers and runs full feature films, and they also host musical concerts in this room, they have even hosted passenger presentations in the theatre. The ship also hosts many theme related cruises, (see brochures)

The ship has a full amenity beauty salon, barber shop, fitness center and sauna and massage. The outer decks are clean and spacious. The ship has a full library open 24/7 and also has CD and DVD availability for passengers – DVD players are located in higher grade cabins as well. The card and games room is in the same space.

My favorite lounge on the ship had to be the Observatory – on the front of the ship, with commanding views of the sea, appointed in rich blues and gold – with maps on the tables a piano and full amenity bar.

There are several small lounges, rooms, which are well appointed. This being a smaller ship and the fact that the median age of most passenger is over 50, night time activities are not like a Mega-Ship with a disco and bright and flashy palaces of decadence.

The main show lounge is not a huge room and hosts all of the main entertainment on board. Customs had taken over the room and they were not so accommodating, with camera in hand I was questioned more than once, because they thought I was with the press… UGH!! I guess Customs in Montreal are a little “tight.”

The ship has a small ship feel. I did not see any worn carpets. The ship is very well maintained. The reception area is quite beautiful and there are a number of shops, duty free, Jewelry and even a Tuxedo shop on board. There is a future booking office on the ship and we were told that it gets a fair amount of traffic.

There are a number of formal nights on a long haul cruise of 10 days or more. I learned that most passengers do dress on formal nights, tuxedos and such. On less formal nights, jacket and shirt are ok.

There are a number of “flow lounges” off the dining rooms that have “coffee stations” where you can get coffee and tea at any time. I did not take photos of some of the lounges because they were occupied by passengers while the ship was in port.

There are table tennis rooms, an outer court and ample pool space up on deck. There are a number of Jacuzzis astern. I gave you a number of deck shots, including the pools and outdoor amenities.

On good days – buffet lunches are served on deck. And there are a number of bars that serve the outer decks. Room service is available 24/7 on the ship.

There are (4) cabins that are handicapped accessible with wider doors and most of the ship – save the upper decks that are not served by elevators. But passengers should be able to transit out of chairs into the cabins. I did see passengers in wheel chairs on the ship today.

The cabins have kettles for coffee and tea (in cabin) and room service is also available.

There is a very small internet cafe on board that take internet cards for purchase of time. The ship runs on a cashless system, based on the British Pound. We are told that on any given voyage there could be over 20 nationalities on board from all over the world.

The Black Watch is very popular in Australia and Europe and the Baltic. The Black Watch brochures should be out the end of this week for the 2008-2009 world cruises.

I am told that each Fred Olsen ship has a specific demographic. The Black Watch had a much older clientèle than a run of the mill Mega-Ship.

Because of her size – the ship is very quaint. We inquired about LGBTQ passengers, and yes they do cruise on board Fred Olsen, in greater numbers on Braemar and Boudicca. The Balmoral is coming on line. LGBT is not such an issue in other countries unlike the U.S. But the issue came up.

There are not all the “meetings” or “gatherings” like on mega ships, but if you want to have a “meeting for some AA or FOD or other type, rooms can be reserved on board, but they don’t have many scheduled “meetings” that you would commonly found on the Mega-ships.

I DO HAVE SOME NEWS FOR YOU TOO….

Black Prince, it is said should run until 2010.

It is not known whether or not she will be retrofitted to the new ship standards. BUT, the ship was a gift from father to son, so there might be some sentimental value to the ship. And she may end up in another market where the regulations are not that strict. But as far as I was told, she won’t be taken out of service, because I inquired about this issue. She might be moved somewhere else than where she is cruising today.

Who Goes:

Depends on the ship and the itinerary. AS I said the age group on the Black Watch is much older than the Boomers! But I would gather that if you didn’t mind a more laid back and quiet cruise experience then by all means, cruise/see the ship.

I would cruise on Black Watch.

There are not all those “WOO HOO Drink special and buy, buy, buy, announcements” made at all on this ship save for port information and the noon brief from the captain.

The ship has a very comfortable feel, they are not trying to sell you a Mega-Ship experience. That so many different nationalities sail on board, you won’t get ma and pa kettle from the farm on a discount cruise to the Bahamas on board.

The Black Watch does long haul cruises so passengers have money to spend on long holidays from point to point.

I hope you enjoy this review and that you will sail aboard Fred Olsen in the future….


Fred Olsen’s – Black Watch…

black-watch-038-copya.jpg

black-watch-041-copy.jpg

Black Watch Album I
Black Watch Album II
Black Watch Album III

Today, after sending my boy home full of turkey, I spent the afternoon on board Fred Olsen Cruise Lines – Black Watch. The Former Royal Viking Star. It was a grand day. Above are the links to my online photo albums of the photos I took of the ship. They are linked up to the review I wrote for the Cruise Talk Forum. You never know who you will meet on any given day, but my host from GLP Worldwide, the company that represents Fred Olsen in Canada was a most delightful man. We had such a good time. Come to find out after our visit that he was “Family, AND in recovery.” So we had a mini-meeting in a Tim Horton’s at Palais de Congres. It was a great day…

The ship is 28,613 tons, carries 807 passengers and offers a wide array of cruises, all over the world. I have missed the feeling one gets when on board a ship.

Black Watch is a beautiful vessel. She is smaller than the Mega-Ships that are floating cities at sea. I liked this little ship. It has good flow and decor all over the ship. There is a lot of art to see on board.

There is a lot of sentimental art, statuary and portraits of the Royal Family on board. Each ship has a history and is part of the on board experience.

Black Watch has a very intimate feeling. Her public rooms are much smaller in scale due to lower passenger numbers. I have uploaded over 40 photos of the ship linked below.

I have to say that the cabins range from regular inside cabins to Master suites. Most cabins have 2 lowers in the (L) formation for most cabins. There are double cabins as you move upwards in category.

I found the cabins to be airy, very clean, well appointed and all the cabins have excellent storage facilities for luggage for each cabin. Some of the cabins have beautiful furniture, and lighted closets.

There are single cabins, double cabins, quads and master suites. All the cabins are comfortable, even the i/s cabins.

The intimate nature of the Black Watch lends to a very “community” type cruise experience, I am told. You won’t be alone very long on a Fred Olsen ship if you are sailing alone. Most passengers are repeat passengers and for the most part are very open to sitting with others in community.

I got the sense that the crew on board cared a great deal for their ship. Our guide was very nice and the comradery he shared with the staff was wonderful.

Some lower grade cabins on the o/s have bathtubs, by request when booking. They are well appointed. The standard o/s and i/s cabins have showers with the small lip to keep water in. The upgraded and refitted cabins on the o/s (some have) new bathrooms and furniture.

There are flat screen tv’s in all cabins which play on board programming, BBC and Ship Cam from the bridge, and telephones. Some cabins have DVD players as well.

The junior suites were absolutely wonderful in size and decor. The amenities include fruit baskets, wine and champagne, and assorted chocolates and bottled water. We did not get to see the Master Suites due to the fact they were all occupied.

The junior suites have balconies (some of which are obstructed) and there are also standard o/s category cabins that have balconies. The upper suites have sitting areas, sofas and a large balcony on the upper decks.

There are several dining rooms to choose from – you can dine in the usual first or second seating dining room, which is well appointed and has beautiful picture windows on both sides of the ship. Tables seat couples to large parties. The seating is very comfortable.

For our lunch there was a set menu and of course a hot and cold buffet (salads) and desserts. The food was well presented, hot and very good. There is also a buffet that serves food outside the normal dining seatings. (informal dining )

The public rooms are well appointed. There is a theatre that seats up to 150 passengers and runs full feature films, and they also host musical concerts in this room, they have even hosted passenger presentations in the theatre. The ship also hosts many theme related cruises, (see brochures)

The ship has a full amenity beauty salon, barber shop, fitness center and sauna and massage. The outer decks are clean and spacious. The ship has a full library open 24/7 and also has CD and DVD availability for passengers – DVD players are located in higher grade cabins as well. The card and games room is in the same space.

My favorite lounge on the ship had to be the Observatory – on the front of the ship, with commanding views of the sea, appointed in rich blues and gold – with maps on the tables a piano and full amenity bar.

There are several small lounges, rooms, which are well appointed. This being a smaller ship and the fact that the median age of most passenger is over 50, night time activities are not like a Mega-Ship with a disco and bright and flashy palaces of decadence.

The main show lounge is not a huge room and hosts all of the main entertainment on board. Customs had taken over the room and they were not so accommodating, with camera in hand I was questioned more than once, because they thought I was with the press… UGH!! I guess Customs in Montreal are a little “tight.”

The ship has a small ship feel. I did not see any worn carpets. The ship is very well maintained. The reception area is quite beautiful and there are a number of shops, duty free, Jewelry and even a Tuxedo shop on board. There is a future booking office on the ship and we were told that it gets a fair amount of traffic.

There are a number of formal nights on a long haul cruise of 10 days or more. I learned that most passengers do dress on formal nights, tuxedos and such. On less formal nights, jacket and shirt are ok.

There are a number of “flow lounges” off the dining rooms that have “coffee stations” where you can get coffee and tea at any time. I did not take photos of some of the lounges because they were occupied by passengers while the ship was in port.

There are table tennis rooms, an outer court and ample pool space up on deck. There are a number of Jacuzzis astern. I gave you a number of deck shots, including the pools and outdoor amenities.

On good days – buffet lunches are served on deck. And there are a number of bars that serve the outer decks. Room service is available 24/7 on the ship.

There are (4) cabins that are handicapped accessible with wider doors and most of the ship – save the upper decks that are not served by elevators. But passengers should be able to transit out of chairs into the cabins. I did see passengers in wheel chairs on the ship today.

The cabins have kettles for coffee and tea (in cabin) and room service is also available.

There is a very small internet cafe on board that take internet cards for purchase of time. The ship runs on a cashless system, based on the British Pound. We are told that on any given voyage there could be over 20 nationalities on board from all over the world.

The Black Watch is very popular in Australia and Europe and the Baltic. The Black Watch brochures should be out the end of this week for the 2008-2009 world cruises.

I am told that each Fred Olsen ship has a specific demographic. The Black Watch had a much older clientèle than a run of the mill Mega-Ship.

Because of her size – the ship is very quaint. We inquired about LGBTQ passengers, and yes they do cruise on board Fred Olsen, in greater numbers on Braemar and Boudicca. The Balmoral is coming on line. LGBT is not such an issue in other countries unlike the U.S. But the issue came up.

There are not all the “meetings” or “gatherings” like on mega ships, but if you want to have a “meeting for some AA or FOD or other type, rooms can be reserved on board, but they don’t have many scheduled “meetings” that you would commonly found on the Mega-ships.

I DO HAVE SOME NEWS FOR YOU TOO….

Black Prince, it is said should run until 2010.

It is not known whether or not she will be retrofitted to the new ship standards. BUT, the ship was a gift from father to son, so there might be some sentimental value to the ship. And she may end up in another market where the regulations are not that strict. But as far as I was told, she won’t be taken out of service, because I inquired about this issue. She might be moved somewhere else than where she is cruising today.

Who Goes:

Depends on the ship and the itinerary. AS I said the age group on the Black Watch is much older than the Boomers! But I would gather that if you didn’t mind a more laid back and quiet cruise experience then by all means, cruise/see the ship.

I would cruise on Black Watch.

There are not all those “WOO HOO Drink special and buy, buy, buy, announcements” made at all on this ship save for port information and the noon brief from the captain.

The ship has a very comfortable feel, they are not trying to sell you a Mega-Ship experience. That so many different nationalities sail on board, you won’t get ma and pa kettle from the farm on a discount cruise to the Bahamas on board.

The Black Watch does long haul cruises so passengers have money to spend on long holidays from point to point.

I hope you enjoy this review and that you will sail aboard Fred Olsen in the future….


Builder: Dubai high-rise world's tallest

070907_burj01.jpg

 Photo courtesy of: The Dubai Chronicles

By BARBARA SURK, Associated Press Writer 

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Developers of a 1,680-foot skyscraper still under construction in oil-rich Dubai claimed Saturday that it has become the world’s tallest building, surpassing Taiwan’s Taipei 101 which has dominated the global skyline at 1,667 feet since 2004.

The Burj Dubai is expected to be finished by the end of 2008 and its planned final height has been kept secret. The state-owned development company Emaar Properties, one of the main builders in rapidly developing Dubai, said only that the tower would stop somewhere above 2,275 feet.

When completed, the skyscraper will feature more than 160 floors, 56 elevators, luxury apartments, boutiques, swimming pools, spas, exclusive corporate suites, Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani‘s first hotel, and a 124th floor observation platform.

After North American and Asian cities marked their 20th century economic booms with skyscrapers, the Gulf grew eager to show off its success with ever taller buildings. In Dubai, long an oil-rich Gulf symbol of rapid economic growth, the building reflects the city’s hunger for global prestige.

“It’s a symbol of Dubai as a city of the world,” said Greg Sang, the project director for Emaar Properties.

Mohammed Ali Alabbar, chairman of Emaar, said it will be an architectural and engineering masterpiece of concrete, steel and glass. Dubai has “resisted the usual and has inspired to build a global icon,” he said.

“It’s a human achievement without equal.”

The $1 billion skyscraper is in the heart of downtown Dubai, a 500-acre development area worth $20 billion. Construction, which began just 1,276 days ago, has been frenzied — at times, one storey rises every three days.

The tip of the Burj’s spire will be seen for 60 miles, developers say. But Sang knows it will not dominate the world’s skyline forever.

“It’s a fact of life that, at some point, someone else will build a taller building,” he said. “There’s a lot of talk of other tall buildings, but five years into Burj Dubai’s construction, no one’s started building them yet,” he said.

Previous skyscraper record-holders include New York’s Empire State Building at 1,250 feet; Shanghai’s Jin Mao Building at 1,381 feet; Chicago’s Sears Tower at 1,451 feet; and Malaysia’s Petronas Towers at 1,483 feet.

The Burj will let the Middle East reclaim the world’s tallest structure. Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza, built around 2500 B.C., held the title with its 481 feet until the Eiffel Tower in Paris was built in 1889 at a height of 985 feet, or 1,023 feet including the flag pole.

The company says the Burj will fulfill the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s four criteria for the tallest building: the height of the structural top, the highest occupied floor, the roof’s top, and the spire’s tip, pinnacle, antenna, mast or flag pole.

For now, the unattractive brownish concrete skeleton jutting into Dubai’s humid skies lacks any aura of a masterpiece. Rising 141 floors with a mass of surrounding cranes and girders, it has no windows, glass or steel yet.

The architects and engineers are American and the main building contractor is South Korean.

Most of the 4,000 laborers are Indian. They toil around the clock in Dubai’s sizzling summer with no set minimum wage. Human rights groups regularly protest against labor abuse in Dubai, but local media rarely report such complaints.


Builder: Dubai high-rise world’s tallest

070907_burj01.jpg

 Photo courtesy of: The Dubai Chronicles

By BARBARA SURK, Associated Press Writer 

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Developers of a 1,680-foot skyscraper still under construction in oil-rich Dubai claimed Saturday that it has become the world’s tallest building, surpassing Taiwan’s Taipei 101 which has dominated the global skyline at 1,667 feet since 2004.

The Burj Dubai is expected to be finished by the end of 2008 and its planned final height has been kept secret. The state-owned development company Emaar Properties, one of the main builders in rapidly developing Dubai, said only that the tower would stop somewhere above 2,275 feet.

When completed, the skyscraper will feature more than 160 floors, 56 elevators, luxury apartments, boutiques, swimming pools, spas, exclusive corporate suites, Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani‘s first hotel, and a 124th floor observation platform.

After North American and Asian cities marked their 20th century economic booms with skyscrapers, the Gulf grew eager to show off its success with ever taller buildings. In Dubai, long an oil-rich Gulf symbol of rapid economic growth, the building reflects the city’s hunger for global prestige.

“It’s a symbol of Dubai as a city of the world,” said Greg Sang, the project director for Emaar Properties.

Mohammed Ali Alabbar, chairman of Emaar, said it will be an architectural and engineering masterpiece of concrete, steel and glass. Dubai has “resisted the usual and has inspired to build a global icon,” he said.

“It’s a human achievement without equal.”

The $1 billion skyscraper is in the heart of downtown Dubai, a 500-acre development area worth $20 billion. Construction, which began just 1,276 days ago, has been frenzied — at times, one storey rises every three days.

The tip of the Burj’s spire will be seen for 60 miles, developers say. But Sang knows it will not dominate the world’s skyline forever.

“It’s a fact of life that, at some point, someone else will build a taller building,” he said. “There’s a lot of talk of other tall buildings, but five years into Burj Dubai’s construction, no one’s started building them yet,” he said.

Previous skyscraper record-holders include New York’s Empire State Building at 1,250 feet; Shanghai’s Jin Mao Building at 1,381 feet; Chicago’s Sears Tower at 1,451 feet; and Malaysia’s Petronas Towers at 1,483 feet.

The Burj will let the Middle East reclaim the world’s tallest structure. Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza, built around 2500 B.C., held the title with its 481 feet until the Eiffel Tower in Paris was built in 1889 at a height of 985 feet, or 1,023 feet including the flag pole.

The company says the Burj will fulfill the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s four criteria for the tallest building: the height of the structural top, the highest occupied floor, the roof’s top, and the spire’s tip, pinnacle, antenna, mast or flag pole.

For now, the unattractive brownish concrete skeleton jutting into Dubai’s humid skies lacks any aura of a masterpiece. Rising 141 floors with a mass of surrounding cranes and girders, it has no windows, glass or steel yet.

The architects and engineers are American and the main building contractor is South Korean.

Most of the 4,000 laborers are Indian. They toil around the clock in Dubai’s sizzling summer with no set minimum wage. Human rights groups regularly protest against labor abuse in Dubai, but local media rarely report such complaints.


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