Monday, April 5, 2010

Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Tower: Observation Deck Open, Mouths Closed

"World's tallest tower in Dubai reopens"
The Associated Press (April 4, 2010)

"The observation deck of the world's tallest skyscraper reopened Sunday in Dubai, two months after an elevator malfunction left visitors trapped more than 120 stories above the ground and forced it to close.

"Dozens of tourists were lining up Sunday for tickets to take an elevator to the 124th floor of the half-mile-high Burj Khalifa, where the tower's observation deck is located.

"The deck was shut in February after an elevator packed with visitors got stuck between floors for 45 minutes before rescuers dropped a ladder into the shaft so those inside could crawl out. Two months later, it's still unclear what caused the elevator to fail.

"The accident proved a major embarrassment for Dubai, whose rulers hoped the Burj Khalifa, which officially opened in January, would be a major tourist draw and buoy the Gulf city-state as it struggles to revive its image as a cutting-edge Arab metropolis amid nagging questions about its financial health.

"At 2,717 feet (828 meters), the tapering, silvery tower ranks as not only the world's highest skyscraper, but also the tallest freestanding structure in the world.

"Its developer, Emaar Properties has not officially announced the observation deck's reopening...."

Good news for Dubai.

I noticed a recurring situation in the article:

"...The firm handling Emaar's public relations did not immediately respond to calls from The AP...."

"...Otis spokesman Dilip Rangnekar previously told the AP that the installation is ongoing. On Sunday he did not respond to a request for details on the elevators' repairs or their safety...."

"...Emaar, the state-linked company that owns the tower, had little to say about February's accident. The company said nothing about an elevator malfunction at the time of the accident and did not provide details of any repairs or maintenance work on the elevators before the viewing deck reopened Sunday...."

It seemed like quite a lot of 'no comment.' I've mentioned before, that the folks who run the Dubai tower, Burj Khalifa, seemed to be more hesitant to talk about what happened than you'd expect from an American company.

Well, Emaar isn't an American company, and Dubai isn't America. Not everybody works at the somewhat frantic pace we consider 'normal.' Which is fine. The world would be less interesting if we were all alike.

I don't know why Otis and all have been so reticent - maybe it's because they're all following the lead of Dubai's culture. Or maybe they're not sure where on the continuum from 'investigative reporter' to paparazzi the lot that's been calling them fall.

And, remembering the sort of hatchet job that the Western press can do: I can't say that I blame Emaar and all with being a tad cautious.

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