DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – With its world's tallest building nearing completion, Dubai said Sunday it is embarking on an even more ambitious skyscraper: one that will soar more than 10 American football fields.
That's about two-thirds of a mile or the height of more than three of New York's Chrysler Buildings stacked end-to-end.
Babel had nothing on this place.
"This is unbelievably groundbreaking design," Chief Executive Chris O'Donnell said during a briefing at the company's sales center, not far from the proposed site. "This still takes my breath away."
The tower, which will take more than a decade to complete, will be the centerpiece of a sprawling development state-owned builder Nakheel plans to create in the rapidly growing "New Dubai" section of the city. Foundation work has already begun, O'Donnell said.
The area is located between two of the city's artificial palm-shaped islands, which Nakheel also built. The project will include a manmade inland harbor and 40 additional towers up to 90 floors high.
About 150 elevators will carry employees and workers to the Nakheel Tower's more than 200 floors, the company said. The building will be composed of four separate towers joined at various levels and centered on an open atrium.
"It does show a lot of confidence in this environment" of worldwide credit problems and a souring global economy, said Marios Maratheftis, Standard Chartered Bank's Dubai-based regional head of research.
As part of government-run conglomerate Dubai World, Nakheel has played a major role in creating modern-day Dubai, a city that has blossomed from a tiny Persian Gulf fishing and pearling village into a major business and tourism hub in a matter of decades.
Besides the growing archipelago of man-made islands for which it is best known, Nakheel is responsible for a number of the city's malls, hotels and hundreds of apartment buildings.
The company said the new project is inspired by Islamic design and draws inspiration from sites such as the Alhambra in Spain and the harbor of Alexandria in Egypt.
"This is nothing like it in Dubai," said Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Nakheel's chairman.
Perhaps not quite. But Dubai is already home to the world's tallest building, even if it remains unfinished.
That skyscraper, the Burj Dubai, or Dubai Tower in Arabic, is being built by Nakheel's chief competitor, Emaar Properties.
Emaar has kept the final height of the silvery steel-and-glass tower a closely guarded secret, saying only that it stood at a "new record height" of 2,257 feet at the start of last month. It's due to be finished next September.
The final height of Nakheel's proposed tower is likewise a secret, as is the price tag. The company would only say it will be more than 3,281 feet tall.
O'Donnell said he was confident that Nakheel could pay for the project despite the financial troubles roiling the world's economy.
He also brushed aside concerns by some analysts that Dubai's property market is becoming overheated and due for a potentially sharp correction.
"In Dubai, demand outstrips supply," he said. "There might be a slowdown, but there definitely won't be a crash."