A tower resembling the Burj Khalifa – but just a quarter the size – is set to be constructed along the waterfront of the Serbian city of Belgrade.
The country wants to make the area a tourism and business hub, in a controversial €3bn scheme funded by Gulf Arab cash.
The Belgrade Waterfront project promises office and luxury apartment blocks, eight hotels, a shopping mall and a tower resembling Dubai’s landmark Burj Khalifa, with a height of 200m, on the right bank of the Sava River.
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic’s has pledged to create jobs and growth and turn Belgrade into a business hub for the Western Balkans. But the project has drawn criticism from architects, economists and corruption watchdogs, who have raised concerns over its design, cost and transparency.
“It (the project) will make Belgrade a regional centre and it will attract many tourists,” Vucic said.
The proposed area for development, Savamala, houses grand, century-old buildings that have become derelict, though the area has started to re-emerge as a cultural hub. Unlike some parts of Belgrade, the area escaped damage by NATO bombing during the Kosovo conflict in 1999 but the right bank of the Sava is blighted by a run-down railway station and bus terminus.
The project is to be co-financed and led by Dubai-based construction company Eagle Hills, although Eagle Hills and the Serbian government have yet to form a joint venture and define a co-financing model. Eagle Hills has agreed to put up the €3bn cost of the scheme but the terms have not been settled and it is unclear how much the Serbia government will contribute in funds.