The biggest surprise at the Burj’s spectacular opening party in January 2010 was the announcement that the tower, previously known as the Burj Dubai, was to be renamed the Burj Khalifa, in honour of Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the UAE. Announcing the name change, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed stated: “This great project deserves to carry the name of a great man” – although the naming rights to the world’s tallest building may owe less to Sheikh Khalifa’s personal qualities and more to the US$15-billion-plus bailout that Abu Dhabi provided to cash-strapped Dubai following recent financial difficulties. Oddly enough, Sheikh Khalifa himself didn’t bother showing up to the unveiling of the building that will now make his name familiar to millions.

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