Rising Skyscraper Becomes World's Tallest

It's not even finished, and already the Burj Dubai Tower in the United Arab Emirates is the tallest of the tall.

When it's completed next year, the $1 billion building will soar to a neck-bending height of nearly 2,300 feet — almost half-a-mile. It's record-shattering 160 floors will include apartments, a hotel, and, of course, an observation deck to look down at all the others.

Greg Sang, the project director at the state-owned development company, told the Associated Press the building is "a symbol of Dubai as a city of the world."

The race to the top isn't simple — there are actually rules.

The Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings looks at the highest occupied floor and other criteria beyond height before bestowing the title of "world's tallest."

The previous title holder, Taiwan's Taipei 101, captured the title two years ago from Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers, which, in 1998, eclipsed Chicago's Sears Tower.

The Middle East last claimed the tallest structure in the late 1800s. Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza stood 481 feet tall, but it was beat by nearly double when the Eiffel Tower was finished in Paris in 1889.

"It's a fact of life that, at some point, someone else will build a taller building," Sang told the Associated Press. "But, five years into Burj Dubai's construction, no one's started building them yet."

For now, Dubai and the Middle East will keep their bragging rights and remain leaders in a field where the sky is literally the limit.

Eric Horng contributed to this report.