Life in present-day Dubai is not for the faint-hearted. But for those who fear neither heights nor financial crisis.
The Gulf city-state is to offer an entirely new experience: the chance to spend the rest of your days thousands of feet up in the air.
Monday sees the long-awaited opening of the Burj Dubai, not only the world's tallest building but the world's tallest building by some 1,000 feet.
At 2,683 feet tall, it is the height of the current highest skyscraper, Taipei 101 in Taiwan, with the Eiffel Tower perched on top. It has been designed so that those who wish to do so will never have to leave, or even descend below the 108th floor, at about 1,300 feet.
That is the height up to which there will be residential apartments. For work, you can nip to the offices upstairs - anywhere up to the 160th floor, in fact. To eat, you can visit the restaurant on the 122nd, and to exercise you can use the gym on the 123rd, about 1,440 feet off the ground.
The gym has both an indoor and, unnervingly, an outdoor swimming pool.
One might fear such a high-flying yet enclosed life would get a little dull. But the tower's developers have a solution there, at least for the young.
The Burj Dubai is also intending to host the world's highest nightclub, 20 floors higher still than the gym.
Since ground was broken on the project in January 2004, the tower has inspired huge debate in Dubai which has mirrored the fortunes of the emirate after which it is named.
For the company which built it, Emaar, and the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, it is a "shining accomplishment ... an icon of the new Middle East: prosperous, dynamic and successful".
The purple prose of tourist guidebooks has already had difficulty keeping up with Dubai's transformation from an oriental souk, with picturesque dish-dasha-clad locals bobbing on the creek in wooden dhows to the world capital of bling. For them, the Burj Dubai has proved a challenge. "Just damn tall," was the pithy conclusion of The Lonely Planet.
It can hardly be blamed. Burj in Arabic means tower, so that the building, which is set next to the Dubai Mall and the world's tallest fountain, called the Dubai Fountain, is actually named less than imaginatively "Dubai Tower".
As the global debt-fuelled property boom came to an end, Dubai's vision has turned to nightmare and with Dubai's fall from grace in November after admitting a multi-billion-dollar hole in its finances, the Burj took on a deeper symbolism.
Its sharp spire appeared to "pierce the bubble in the sky". One commentator compared it to Ozymandias, the poem in which Shelley describes the arrogant wreckage of a long-disappeared empire.
"Outrageous, wasteful, egotistical, ridiculous," a journalist wrote of the Burj after Dubai asked for a standstill on its debt repayments.
He portrayed its "sneer of cold command" as "thrusting a finger at the outside world even as its Ozymandian surroundings sink beneath the economic waters of the Gulf".
Whether Dubai's economy fails or recovers, however, the brute facts will remain: 8 million cubic feet of concrete, 31,000 tons of reinforcing steel, 167,000 square feet of stainless steel cladding, and 1.1 million square feet of double glazing have been mixed together to create a spire visible from 60 miles away across the desert. It will dwarf the new 1,776 ft 1 World Trade Center, also known as "Freedom Tower", being built on Ground Zero in New York, and is unlikely to be surpassed any time soon. The world recession has not been kind to mega-projects. Emaar's great rival in Dubai, Nakheel, builder of the Palm Islands, proposed a one-kilometre tall tower in 2008, but has put it on ice while it tries to tackle its multi-billion dollar debts.
As to the Burj's actual height, that remains officially a secret, which is odd since the developers have already told newspapers it is 818 metres tall, or 2,683 feet.
Also a mystery is who is going to live and work there, which is said to be a matter of client confidentiality. Despite the recession, the developers say it is sold out.
What happens to unlucky acrophobes whose employers suddenly decide to move from a pleasant ground-floor office next to the beach to a look-out perched two and a half thousand feet in the air, Emaar says that, with respect, it is none of their business. "That is up to the clients," said a spokesman.