"In democratic countries, there is a correlation between skyscrapers, wealth and the number of residents. In non-democratic countries, there is no such connection," Carl Henrik Knutsen told the Norwegian daily Aftenposten.
In Saudi Arabia, the Jeddah Tower, projected to become the world's first building to reach the one-kilometer mark, is now being built as a symbol of the kingdom's economic and cultural role in the world. While the building is expected to house numerous hotels, luxury apartments and fashionable offices, its profitability remains highly uncertain.
Other popular examples cited in the research are the 330 meter high pyramid Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, which is commonly called the "Hotel of Doom." Its construction started in 1987, but was put on ice in the 1990s, leaving its huge skeleton looming over the North Korean capital's skyline.
"Dictators are free to spend more money regardless of what most people think it should be used for," Haakon Gjerløw commented.
Further historic examples of unprecedented extravagance intended to display power and prosperity include a 2009 copy of the gilded and diamond-plated Shwedagon pagoda in Myanmar's new capital, or the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Côte d'Ivoire's capital city. The latter is seen as a slightly enlarged replica of the Basilica of Saint Peter in Vatican City and ranks as the world's largest church. Its construction in the 1980s led to the doubling of the African country's foreign debt.
While the US has for decades been the country most commonly associated with skyscrapers, with such hallmarks as the Flatiron Building and the Empire State Building, China has taken over in the number of completed or topped-out buildings higher than 150 meters and has twice as many than the US. The list of cities with the most high-rises includes Hong Kong, New York, Dubai and Tokyo.
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