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01 March 2024

Kalima Translation Project releases 'Skyscrapers: A History of the World's Most Extraordinary Buildings'

By Wam

In collaboration with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, DCT Abu Dhabi, and Emaar Properties, the Kalima Translation Project has released "Skyscrapers: A History of the World's Most Extraordinary Buildings" by author and structural historian Judith Dupre, translated into Arabic by Ahmad Mahmoud and reviewed by Omar Saeed Al Ayubi.

The translation of this book is part of a cooperative agreement between DCT Abu Dhabi and Emaar to promote the ‘We Support Culture’ initiative. This initiative aims to enhance the role of national companies and businesses in the writing, translation, and publishing sector, contribute to the development of book publishing and distribution, and have a positive impact on the cultural scene and reading communities in the UAE and Arab region.

Dupre wrote the book for people who are interested in why and how skyscrapers are built. She takes readers on a visual journey that explores the architecture, engineering, and cultural influence of skyscrapers as city icons and symbols of urbanisation. "Skyscrapers" documents the ultimate urban experience of the 21st century.

The author cites the Emirate of Dubai as a key example of how thoughtful urban development can create economic opportunities as well as a distinct sense of place. She describes Dubai as "a safe, friendly and tolerant haven that seeks to improve its infrastructure by building new airports, roads and metro systems in preparation for its further growth in the future".

"Skyscrapers are built on the basic premise that high-quality architecture would attract businesses and tourists and make Dubai the Middle East's financial and tourism hub. Dubai needed a symbol, so came the idea of Burj Khalifa, as the world's tallest building. The strategy succeeded delivering the vision, making Dubai one of the most known cities around the world," Dupré writes.

The author praises His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, calling him "a visionary leader". He was the first to envision high-rise buildings, such as the Burj Al Arab, that would create a sense of wonder about Dubai. His strategy succeeded. The Burj Al Arab was followed by a two-mile marina in the desert, where water was brought from the Gulf to create dozens of new waterfront sites. On the book’s cover is a spectacular portrait of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa rising above the clouds, as the world’s tallest tower in 2012.

The Burj’s legendary height has inspired both awe and curiosity about its structure and about Dubai itself as business and recreational destination. Emaar Properties collaborated with Samsung C&T from South Korea and Turner International Projects to construct it. The tower was designed by Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, SOM, along with William F. Baker, SOM partner for structural and civil engineering, and George Efstathiou, SOM Managing partner.

Construction on the tower began in late 2003. The desert site presented structural challenges, requiring 32.8-foot (10 m) deep excavation through sand and brackish water. Most of the foundation is located in groundwater containing chlorides that can corrode steel as well as sulfate that could adversely impact concrete. Another challenge was the north wind, which creates seasonal sandstorms.

Translator Ahmad Mahmoud is a member of Egypt's Syndicate of Journalists, the Writers' Union of Egypt, and the Translation Committee of the Supreme Council for Culture. He holds a BA in English Literature and a Postgraduate Diploma in Translation Studies from Cairo University. He is currently the head of the Department of Translation at Shorouk Daily Newspaper in Cairo.