What a story! All the time we were counting the days until the opening of the Burj Dubai…only so in the moment of this happening we would be stunned that it ain’t the Burj Dubai no more. This name change is catchy, flashy and a PR masterpiece, but mostly, it is immensely political.
Why Burj Khalifa?
Let me just mention one simple fact: The building is in the Emirate of Dubai, but it is named after the Emir of Abu Dhabi!! Amazing, huh?
Well, yes, but it is still different than the USA renaming the Washington monument “le monument de Sarkozy”… Dubai and Abu Dhabi are both semi-independent countries – while they both enjoy a great amount of autonomy, they are of course member states of the federal United Arab Emirates (UAE).
This renaming signals that the UAE has become a more unified country. That is their response to the financial crisis, and it seems to be working. Now they can say: UNITED WE STAND! Apparently not the worst idea, judging by the reactions of the financial markets.
One other thing is really important: Dubai proves by the renaming of the world’s tallest building (and this is by far its most powerful symbol for the Emirate!!) that it fully accepts the leadership of Abu Dhabi.
So in a way we could say: Now Dubai is a suburb of Abu Dhabi. But hey, it’s still the coolest place on Earth. Maybe even more so.
Well, who is this Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan?
He was born in 1945. We know that he is a devout Muslim – but at the same time he is a stark advocate of international and inter-religious understanding. Here’s just one example: The University of Wales named a building in its theology (and this is Christian theology!) after him, due to his generous donations.