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Europe's tallest tower to get Qatari opening

Gulf state's prime minister to unveil plaque at London's 309m Shard

The tower, and a neighbouring office development, will have cost $2.3bn (?1.5bn) by the time both are completed, but could be worth as much as $3.9bn
The tower, and a neighbouring office development, will have cost $2.3bn (?1.5bn) by the time both are completed, but could be worth as much as $3.9bn

The tallest building in Western Europe, London’s Shard, is to be opened Thursday by the Qatari prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani, The National reports.

Qatar’s central bank stepped in to fund the project designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano in 2007, when the credit markets froze.

The final touches to the 309 metre tall building’s façade will be completed as the ceremony, which will be attended by Queen Elizabeth II's second son, the Duke of York, the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, and the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, takes place.

“This is a major milestone and I finally feel that we are winning,” said Irvine Sellar, the skyscraper’s developer. “But that is not the end of it,” he added.

The tower has 54,348m² of office space and not yet a single tenant. Mr Sellar said he was in talks with at least three potential tenants, expected to take about 9290m².

“We’re seeing an enormous amount of interest but we are being selective, despite the economy. If you want an address in a building that is globally known you will be looking at this one. We’re not under any pressure to let it,” said Mr Sellar.

Sellar said that the tower now looked “very much like he had imagined”, back in 2000 when he had first persuaded Piano to come on board.

Piano has compared his design to a shard of glass and sees the tower’s spire as complementary to the capital’s church steeples.

The tower, and a neighbouring office development, will have cost $2.3bn (£1.5bn) by the time both are completed, but could be worth as much as $3.9bn (£2.5bn).

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