DUBAI // Abu Dhabi has raced up a chart of the 100 tallest cities in the world.
Five years ago the capital did not appear in the list, but today it is 43rd after the completion of a large number of high-rise projects. A year ago the city was ranked 89th.
Dubai and Sharjah are also in the chart, which was produced by the German building data company Emporis.
Dubai has moved up one place to seventh compared with last year, having been ranked 18th five years ago. Sharjah is 73rd, up from 77th a year ago, and was also 73rd in 2007.
The UAE's first high-rise, the 39-storey Trade Centre Tower in Dubai, opened in 1979.
That three of the country's cities now feature in the chart reflects the dizzying pace of development since.
But Emirati architects, while acknowledging the achievement of the UAE in developing so quickly and raising its international profile, have questioned whether adding more tall buildings is the best way forward for the country.
"Dubai looks a very modern city competing with the rest of the world and has this image of newness and financial power which comes with the skyline," said Ahmed Al Ali, a principal of X-Architects in Dubai.
"I agree with this approach. But since this has been done now, I think maybe in the future we will see more development which will really be sensitive to cultural and environmental issues in this part of the world.
"I think there are much more sensible and sophisticated approaches that could be taken from the traditions and the architectural history that this country has. This is right for the future and is really more valid than skyscrapers."
Farid Esmaeil, another principal at X-Architects, described the UAE's development as "a fantastic achievement".
But Mr Esmaeil added: "I'm definitely not an anti-tower person but sometimes I do not agree with the way the towers are built. They have become very generic and very international."
The skyline list reflects the number and height of buildings with 12 floors or more in each city. Points are awarded according to the number of floors. Buildings between 12 and 19 storeys score one point, while those with 100 or more storeys earn 600 points.
The points are added up and the total number determines each city's place in the table.
Dubai has 604 qualifying buildings and a total of 16,978 points. Doha is ranked 56th, Cairo 83rd and Kuwait City 87th, while Mumbai is in 20th place.
Hong Kong is top of the list, followed by New York, Chicago, Singapore, Seoul and Sao Paulo. Only completed buildings are included, and TV towers, masts, bridges and other structures do not count.
The figures are drawn from Emporis's database and the list is continually updated as new buildings are completed.
The UAE also figures in a list from the company that shows the 100 cities with the most skyscrapers. Dubai is fifth with 230, Abu Dhabi is 58th with 28 and Sharjah is 72nd with 19.
A skyscraper is defined as any building that is at least 100 metres tall. Dubai's 828-metre Burj Khalifa tops the list of the world's tallest buildings.
Surprisingly, given Dubai's reputation as a shopping destination, only one of the city's giant retail centres appears in a list of the world's 10 largest malls.
Dubai Mall is ranked ninth in a table dominated by Asia, with the New South China Mall in Dongguan, China, topping the list.
But the ratings are based on gross leasable area, and the Dubai Mall is the world's largest mall based on total area.
The skyline ranking chart can be viewed at www.emporis.com/statistics/skyline-ranking