Burj Khalifa (Arabic: برج خليفة "Khalifa Tower"), known as Burj Dubai prior to its inauguration, is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and the tallest man-made structure ever built, at 828 m (2,717 ft). Construction began on 21 September 2004, with the exterior of the structure completed on 1 October 2009. The building officially opened on 4 January 2010, and is part of the new 2 km2 (490-acre) flagship development called Downtown Dubai at the 'First Interchange' along Sheikh Zayed Road, near Dubai's main business district.
The tower's architecture and engineering were performed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill of Chicago, with Adrian Smith as chief architect, and Bill Baker as chief structural engineer. The primary contractor was Samsung C&T of South Korea.
The total cost for the project was about US$1.5 billion; and for the entire "Downtown Dubai" development, US$20 billion.
The project's completion coincided with the global financial crisis of 2007--2010, and with vast overbuilding in the country, led to high vacancies and foreclosures. With Dubai mired in debt from its huge ambitions, the government was forced to seek multibillion dollar bailouts from its oil rich neighbor Abu Dhabi. Subsequently, in a surprise move at its opening ceremony, the tower was renamed Burj Khalifa, said to honour the UAE President, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his crucial support
Burj Khalifa has been designed to be the centrepiece of a large-scale, mixed-use development that would include 30,000 homes, nine hotels such as The Address Downtown Dubai, 3 hectares (7.4 acres) of parkland, at least 19 residential towers, the Dubai Mall, and the 12-hectare (30-acre) man-made Burj Khalifa Lake.
The building has returned the location of Earth's tallest freestanding structure to the Middle East where the Great Pyramid of Giza claimed this achievement for almost four millennia before being surpassed in 1311 by Lincoln Cathedral in England.
The decision to build Burj Khalifa is reportedly based on the government's decision to diversify from an oil based economy to one that is service and tourism oriented. According to officials, it is necessary for projects like Burj Khalifa to be built in the city to garner more international recognition, and hence investment. "He (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum) wanted to put Dubai on the map with something really sensational," said Jacqui Josephson, a tourism and VIP delegations executive at Nakheel Properties