DUBAI // It has for years been a quiet marvel, but the "twisted tower" of Dubai Marina opened with a bang last night - a huge fireworks and light show, and a new name.
After seven years of construction, the building formerly known as Infinity Tower will begin admitting apartment owners from today under its new name of Cayan Tower, its developer.
The chairman of Cayan, Ahmed Alhatti, said it was a matter of pride. "I like to describe it as my baby," he said.
He said the decision to rename was a strategic one, since there was an Infinity Tower in both Brisbane and Manama and he did not want to draw a level comparison.
"There's more than one Infinity Tower in the world, and we believe there's no tower in the world like ours," he said. "This will be the only Cayan tower. We wanted it to be connected to us."
The award-winning 310-metre building, which spirals 90 degrees from the ground, has been 80 per cent sold.
Mr Alhatti said the company had been in touch with apartment owners in the past two weeks to begin handover, although residents can move in any time from today.
The remaining 20 per cent of unsold properties in the 75-floor building may be opened for sale after summer, Mr Alhatti said, although a lot would depend on market conditions.
"If we can see there's lots of demand and lots of hype, maybe we can just open it," he said. "But there's no rush."
Prices for apartments range from Dh2 million for a one bed, to as much as Dh3.5 million for a two bed.
Nicholas Maclean, managing director of property adviser CB Richard Ellis Middle East, said there was a demand.
"There's quite a lot of interest in it, as there is in other significant properties," he said.
However, he said the market had changed in Dubai, with more buyers as interested in issues concerning maintenance and service charges as much as they are on a building's appearance. "There's a certain element of maturity come into the buyer market now, so people look beyond a fancy facade," he said.
The design, by architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, came about from a competition in 2005.
Mr Alhatti said the company was looking for something that would turn heads.
"If you want to do a project in Dubai it has to be different in Dubai," he said. "We wanted to do something different, we wanted to be on the map and we wanted to be recognised."
He said the design for the tower fit the bill.
"We loved it. We thought it would be the talk of the town and during the past few years, although it's still not completed, it has been the talk of the town."
However, the project has not been without its challenges. In 2007, the entire basement of the building was flooded, causing hundreds of workers to flee the site. The problem was due to a breach in the wall that keeps the marina water at bay, Mr Alhatti said, rather than a fault in the building design itself. "It was a big issue and it took us two years to solve it," he said.
The building has attracted a fair amount of international attention, and Mr Alhatti said that Cayan had granted permission for the French spiderman, Alain Robert, to climb the building before the end of the year.
It will also feature in a documentary on tall buildings being shot by Dubai-based Quest Films.
Quest Films' John Falchetto said he had filmed scenes using a remote-control helicopter that flew close to the building.
He said the shoot itself was disorientating. "You don't realise it as much when you're on the ground, but when you're flying around the building, it really feels like the tower is melting down and collapsing. It's really an optical illusion.
"Even though it's completely still you have the impression of movement because of that twist. It really brings something new to Dubai."