When Munged Dolah opens the curtains of his living room window in the morning, the view is both breathtaking and surreal.
Dolah, 37, lives on the 45th floor of the world's tallest structure, the Burj Khalifa, which towers to a height of 828 meters.
The sun behind the high-rise casts a giant shadow onto the opposite shore several kilometers away.
Dolah, an American of Palestinian heritage raised in New York, previously worked for a management consultancy in Washington.
But 18 months ago, after being headhunted by a mobile phone company he relocated to the United Arab Emirates.
Last December, a vacancy emerged at the Burj Khalifa, which enabled him to realize his dream of living there.
His apartment occupies 109 square meters. Rhythmic music flows from speakers in the living room.
On a recent weekend, he hosted a party at his pad for 25 friends after seeing a French band in concert.
"In life, you need a beat," Dolah said. "Here, I feel that I can work while taking a vacation."
Burj Khalifa has 160 floors. Those above the 124th floor observation deck house luxury offices. The top floor is taken up by the office of the CEO of Emaar Properties, which owns the building. Another tenant is the Armani Hotel Dubai, the first-ever hotel venture by Italian prestige brand Armani.
The 19th to the 108th floors are residential. There is a Residence Lounge on the 123rd floor as well as sky lobbies equipped with gyms and pools on the 43rd and 76th floors. The hotel's restaurants and other facilities can be used by the public at reasonable rates.
Dolah pays around 11,000 dirhams (about 240,000 yen, or $3,000) in rent per month. This seems inexpensive in comparison to metropolitan Tokyo and Manhattan.
The higher the floor, the more expensive rents become, and the rooms also decrease in size.
The Dubai Mall, the largest in the world with around 1,200 stores, is only a few minutes walk away.
"I've gone back to New York about three times, but I feel like I'm home when I return to the Burj Khalifa. It's so comfortable living here."
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Construction of the Burj Khalifa was completed in January 2010 at a total cost of 5.9 billion dirhams.
"Burj" means tower, and its design thrusting into the sky certainly helps it live up to its name.
The original plan for the structure set a target of around 90 floors, but Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is said to have asked, "Why not make it 100 stories?" The tallest building in the world at the time was Taipei 101 in Taiwan, which at 101 stories was 508 meters high.
The overriding imperative for building the Burj Khalifa became giving it a height that was greater than Taipei 101, and would not be superseded in the foreseeable future.
In the year before its completion, companies affiliated with the Dubai government fell into financial difficulties, sparking a debt crisis that was dubbed the "Dubai Shock." As a result, Dubai received a bailout from fellow UAE emirate Abu Dhabi.
The Burj Khalifa had originally been known as the Burj Dubai, but it was renamed as a gesture of gratitude toward Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the emir of Abu Dhabi.
Two years have passed since the Burj Khalifa was finished. The government of Dubai forecasts that the country's economic situation is gradually returning to the prosperity it enjoyed prior to the Dubai Shock. This recovery is being driven by tourism.
Many tourists fly in on Dubai-based airline Emirates to visit the Burj Khalifa.
"The Burj Khalifa has become a brand representing Dubai, on a par with Emirates," says Saifur Rahman, 45, business editor for local English-language newspaper Gulf News.
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In Jeddah, western Saudi Arabia, plans are afoot to construct the Kingdom Tower that will soar more than 1,000 meters.
The project will cost around 4.6 billion Saudi riyals (approximately 100 billion yen) and is scheduled for completion in 2018.
At 156 floors, it will host a hotel, offices and apartments. It is the centerpiece of new urban development, and its design is in the hands of American architect Adrian Smith, the man who created the Burj Khalifa.
Of all the oil-producing nations in the Persian Gulf region, Saudi Arabia is the most influential in both economic and political terms.
As for the decision to construct a building taller than Dubai's Burj Khalifa, Rahman, the Gulf News business editor, says: "Its purpose is to direct attention to the fact that Saudi Arabia is the leading oil-producing country in the gulf region."
Meanwhile in Dubai, five high-rises, each over 300 meters in height, will be completed this year.
Is there a desire to challenge the Kingdom Tower for the title of world's tallest building?
"We don't intend to compete with Saudi Arabia over building height," says Dubai Economic Council Secretary-General Hani Al Hamli. "The Burj Khalifa is only a part of Dubai's success story, and we are leading other oil-producing gulf nations in many other fields."
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The world's tallest buildings
1: Burj Khalifa (UAE) -- 828 m
2: Taipei 101 (Taiwan) -- 508 m
3: Shanghai World Financial Center (China) -- 492 m
4: International Commerce Center (Hong Kong) -- 484 m
5: Petronas Tower 1 (Malaysia) -- 452 m
5: Petronas Tower 2 (Malaysia) -- 452 m
7: Zifeng Tower (China) -- 450 m
8: Willis Tower (United States) -- 442.1 m
9: Kingkey 100 (China) -- 441.8 m
10: Guangzhou International Finance Center (China) -- 439 m
List is based on data from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). Countries where the buildings are located are mentioned in brackets. Spires that do not serve a function are included in a building's height if they are part of a building's design, but antennas, flagpoles, and other spires that serve a function are not counted.
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