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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Report: GCC countries building world’s ‘vainest’ skyscrapers



The UAE and other Gulf countries are responsible for producing some of the “vainest” buildings on Earth, the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has said.

In a new report, the council ranked skyscrapers from around the world on the basis of unused space, by measuring the distance between a skyscraper’s highest occupiable floor and its architectural top.

The UAE, US and China came in as the worst offenders, according to the index. Half of the top 10 most “vain” buildings currently in existence hail from the Emirates, including the 828-meter Burj Khalifa, of which 29 percent is unusable as office space.

The worst offender is Dubai’s Burj Arab, which has 39 percent of unusable space. But Saudi Arabia’s upcoming mile-high Kingdom Tower, which is set to be the world’s tallest tower when it is completed in 2017, could beat that.


Meanwhile, though Qatar wasn’t named and shamed for any buildings within its borders, Reuters points out that that the London-based Shard, which the GCC nation funded, has a vanity measure of 20 percent. 

The newswire cites Steve Watts, a tall buildings expert at construction consultancy Alinea, as saying:

Developers typically get higher rents on upper floors, but in developing economies where land and labor is cheaper they can more readily use tall buildings to spark nearby development and make wider schemes viable.

Less practical reasons can also play a role, he added:

“There can also be an ego element with these things with developers wanting to go higher than each other.”

Not all buildings in the Gulf draw the CTBUH’s ire.

Last year, the council awarded Qatar the “Best Tall Building in the Middle East” award for its iconic Burj Qatar for combining “ancient Islamic patterns” with modernity.


Credit: Top photo of Burj Arab by Walid Mahfoudh; graphic by CTBUH

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