Many in the Gulf country's orthodox Muslim community oppose the $136 million Arab Tower project, seeing it as a violation of Islam's ban on visual representations of the human form.
But moderates argue the 140-meter-tall highrise is a commercial venture, drawing on the traditions and culture of the Arabian Desert's indigenous nomadic tribes.
The top floors of the 35-storied building are designed to resemble the Bedouin headdress, which combines a draped rectangular scarf of black silk georgette with a diagonally folded band. The lower and middle tiers will be lined with color panels and white glass to evoke the image of the long-sleeved shirt known as dishdasha.
The tower, which is being built near Dubai's Jebel Ali international airport, will be commissioned by the middle of 2009 to provide additional office space for the rapidly growing business community of the UAE's commercial capital.
The unconventional structure is expected to enter the Guinness Book of Records as the largest glass-and-steel model of ethnic dress.