Quiet Completion, 24 September 1979

Forty years ago today, Dubai World Trade Centre was officially completed and handed over to the center’s management company. Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Makoum had founded the management company to fill the astounding investment with elite trading and finance companies; it was largely petroleum-related companies, however, that moved in.
The tower’s final price was never officially stated, but it reached beyond £120mn. It was Dubai’s tallest building well before it was finished, allegedly the tallest in the Middle East for a good decade.
The celebratory ribbon-cutting had already happened in February 1979, when Sheikh Rashid gave the honors to visiting Queen Elizabeth II. But she opened a building not yet finished. The construction crew—as populous as 2000 and
mostly made up of skilled Pakistani builders—went back to work after she left.
The management company still had a lot of work to do after the actual handover, responsible for filling a building during a financial crisis. Dubai’s most expensive office space went online to a yawning real estate market. Its main goal, however, had never been the profits of the financial kind.

Image: Courtesy John R. Harris Library.

Architect: John R. Harris and Partners
Contractor: Sunley & Sons
Consultant Engineer: R.J. Crocker