(CNN) — Dubai may be an international playground for global superstars, but no one can eclipse the biggest star of all, the Burj Khalifa.
Located in thriving downtown Dubai, the needle-shaped super scraper takes center stage in the famed skyline with millions of visitors and VIPs flocking each year to arguably the most prestigious address in the world.
The tallest manmade structure is the ultimate symbol of glitz, glamor and the over-the-top excess for which the city is known.
The Burj by numbers
Soaring over the city at an impressive 2,716 feet (828 meters) and boasting 200 stories (160 habitable), the $1.5 billion Burj Khalifa project was unveiled by Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in January 2010.
At the peak of construction, more than 12,000 international workers were on site per day logging a collective 22 million man-hours during the six years it took to complete.
The Burj Khalifa is twice the height of New York’s Empire State Building and three times as tall as the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
It even surpassed Taiwan’s Taipei 101, which at 1,667 feet (508m) had held the world title since it opened in 2004. Laid end to end, the Burj Khalifa’s pieces would stretch over a quarter of the way around the world.
Not content with being the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa has also snagged a clutch of other bragging rights. It also holds the following records:
— Tallest freestanding structure in the world
— Highest number of stories in the world
— Highest occupied floor in the world
— Highest outdoor observation deck in the world
— Elevator with longest travel distance in the world
— Tallest service elevator in the world
— World’s highest swimming pool in a building (on Level 76)
The man behind the Burj
The Burj’s appearance is based on a flower called the Spider Lily (Hymenocallis), which is native to southern states of America, South America and Mexico.
US architect Adrian Smith, who was involved in the design while a partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), has also contributed to a plethora of notable buildings including the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, which at 3,280 feet is projected to surpass the Burj in height, on its completion in 2020.
The Dubai tower’s name was chosen at the last minute.
What was initially called the Burj Dubai was renamed Burj Khalifa to honor the president of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who assisted with the funds to create the billion-dollar iconic showpiece.
Burj is the Arabic word for tower.