Building castles on sand

Reach for the sky

WERE it built to its original design, the Burj Khalifa would have just 90 floors, says Muhammad Alabbar, the chairman of Emaar Properties, which developed the skyscraper. But when Mr Alabbar presented his plans to Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, he was told to do better. So, 73 floors were added, making the Burj Khalifa far taller than any other building when it opened in 2010.

The rise of Emaar has been just as vertiginous—and similarly influenced by Dubai’s ruler. Since it was founded by Mr Alabbar in 1997, the firm has grown to become the emirate’s biggest property developer by market value. Its profits rose by 30% in 2014, to $912m, and its spectacular buildings and planned communities have helped put Dubai on the map. The question now facing Emaar is whether it can sustain this momentum as it seeks to become a global business.

Emaar has undoubtedly benefited from the right connections. About 30% of it is owned by a sovereign-wealth fund; and Mr Alabbar says he doesn’t do anything without talking to Sheikh Muhammad. In many ways the firm is a reflection...

via Business Feeds

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