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Chinas Boom Leaves Dubai Eating Dust

The Dubai skyscraper dream may be going pop now, but it was never really the biggest or most spectacular one in the world despite the PR saying otherwise.

The Middle Eastern Emirate had come out of nowhere rising rapidly from the desert with a collection of bling towers and ever more outrageous proposals including the Burj Dubai and the recently terminated Nakheel Tower, but compared to China it's little more than a storm in a teacup.

At the peak of the skyscraper boom there in August 2008, Dubai had 54 supertall towers proposed, under construction or built but figures obtained by Skyscrapernews show that 29 of these projects are now defunct. Only five of the 54 have been completed with the other 20 supposedly under construction, but of these at least five are unlikely to get off the ground whilst Dubai continues to get rattled by economic storms.

Still, at least 13 of the under construction supertalls are at least half built but what height they all end up with is anyone's guess - towers are being completed without crowns and spires to save money, a move that reduces their end height and can potentially push them under the 300 metre limit.

A best case scenario will eventually see Dubai with a mere 25 supertall skyscrapers, and that's if everything, even the projects that are looking increasingly unlikely but have groundwork underway get built - a smart prediction seems to be that the boom was unsustainable and the downturn will see Dubai unable to keep things going. At the very best it should just about be able to honour its debts so Dubai will likely round off its building glut with 18 300 metre plus buildings.

Comparing this to China you see just how small Dubai's boom was. China has 169 supertall towers either complete or at various stages of development with the hot-spots being Chongqing and Tianjin each with 22 at various stages, more than enough to plough them ahead of Dubai in only a matter of years.

Almost none of the 169 total are on hold. The Skyscrapernews figures show a mere two whilst 41 are under construction. Chongqing meanwhile is building eight right this minute, Shenyang has six going up, and Tianjin and Guanghzou are constructing four apiece.

What's even more extraordinary though is the Chinese have been doing this with little song and dance although the Chinese themselves would no doubt remark they are simply showing their usual politeness about it.

If these cities were Middle Eastern kingdoms they'd have every tower accompanied by glossy articles in lifestyle magazines selling the apartments funded of course by vast amounts of Sharia friendly debt, but the Chinese have little need to import foreigners to live in their skyscrapers when they are undergoing the modern equivalent of the Industrial Revolution and using real money to build them.

With these huge demographic changes happening in China and vast rural populations of each province moving gradually to urban areas, China is showing no signs of slowing down - unlike Dubai their list is continuing to grow and give it only a decade and each major Chinese city will have realised Dubai's skyscraper dream for real... but without the hype.
Shenzen's main commercial centre
Shenzen's main commercial centre