Friday, December 12, 2008

Super Tall Burj Dubai Is Nor Shaharom's Pride


By Muin Abdul Majid

DUBAI, Dec 12 (Bernama) -- He has been involved in Emaar Properties' Burj Dubai project since Day 1 but Malaysian Nor Shaharom Mansor never fails to be awestruck by the sight of the architectural marvel making its way upward towards the heavens.

But Nor Shaharom, assistant director at Emaar for the Burj Dubai tower project, is not about to let the cat out of the bag when it comes to the best-kept secret in town -- the final height of the iconic building that can be seen from kilometres away.

And he will tell you that any attempt to glean that precious bit of information from other parties involved with the project may also prove futile.

"Every consultant and contractor working on this project has been asked to sign a secrecy-undertaking to make sure the dissemination of information is controlled," Melaka-born Nor Shaharom told Bernama at his temporary office nestled at the foot of the under-construction skyscraper.

"The actual height is still a secret. It'll be made public maybe a day before the opening," he laughed, venturing an answer after constant prodding about how tall the building would be.

WORLD'S TALLEST STRUCTURE

Already billed as the world's tallest man-made structure, Dubai-based developer Emaar has said that Burj Dubai will be completed in September 2009.

It was originally scheduled for completion by the end of this year but the target date has been shifted due to revisions in the tower's height and design enhancements.

For the architecture graduate from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in the United States, being involved in an endeavour of such magnitude represents both a great challenge and privilege.

"The way I see it, this is probably the peak of my career. The tower is the tallest structure ever built by mankind; no one has ever done this before. It's the pinnacle of human achievement one may say," Nor Shaharom said.

"You're basically involved from the conception of the project right up to its completion," was how Nor Shaharom, who was originally seconded to Emaar from a Kuala Lumpur-based project management company, summed up his job.

CITY-WITHIN-A-CITY

The Burj Dubai is to be the centrepiece of a 200ha city-within-a-city development called Downtown Burj Dubai.

The US$20 billion project as a whole includes 30,000 homes, hotels including the world's first Armani Hotel being developed in association with haute couture major Giorgio Armani S.p.A., residential towers, luxury office suites, parkland, a man-made lake and what Emaar promises to be a spectacular water feature called the "Dubai Fountain".

The Burj Dubai will also have an observation deck on level 124 that will be open to the public, a two-level parking and a five-storey podium.

Also in the vicinity is the recently-opened The Dubai Mall, billed as one of the world's largest shopping and entertainment destinations.

Emaar is partnering with South Korean construction major Samsung Corporation and New York-based project manager Turner Construction in constructing Burj Dubai.

THE FINAL HEIGHT

It was reported in April this year that Burj Dubai had actually surpassed the height of the KVLY-TV mast in North Dakota, US, to become the world's tallest man-made structure.

Burj Dubai's height was then 629m while the KVLY-TV mast, which held the record for the world's tallest supported structure since 1963, has a height of 628.8m.

Rumour has it that the final height of Burj Dubai will be between 700m and 1,000m. It has been reported that another Dubai-based developer, Nakheel, is planning to build a one-kilometre-high tower to trump Emaar's Burj Dubai.

So, how is the view from up there.

"It's magnificent," gushed Nor Shaharom. And it can be cold when you are up in the clouds.

"For every 100m you go up, the temperature drops 0.7 degrees Celsius. It's pretty cold especially during the winter months. So each time I go up there I've to wear thick clothing ," he said.

MALAYSIA CAN DO IT

For Nor Shaharom, the challenge is more down to earth.

"When I took up the challenge to come here, I felt this responsibility as a Malaysian to show that you can go to the international level and compete with people from other places," he said.

Reflecting on this chapter of his career, he admitted that it had not been easy.

"It took a bit of time to get into the flow of things and also I had to go the extra mile to earn respect from colleagues who are all from overseas," he said.

And having a big dose of discipline and dedication will not hurt either, said Nor Shaharom.

With some 45 consultants and 8,000 skilled workers toiling round-the-clock to complete the super tall building which is rising at the rate of one floor every three days, Nor Shaharom has to be on his toes all the time.

Queried how he would feel once Burj Dubai is completed, he smiled and declared: "I would say `Malaysia Boleh'" (Malaysia Can Do It).

-- BERNAMA

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