‘I am Burj Khalifa’: Entrepreneurial Urbanism, Toponymic Commodification and the Worlding of Dubai


This study explores the cultural politics of renaming the world’s tallest building, the Burj Dubai/Khalifa, as a practice of entrepreneurial urbanism. The Burj offers a unique case study that brings urban scholarship on ‘worlding’ into conversation with emerging debates over the commodification of naming rights within critical toponymic studies. We draw upon archival materials and semi‐structured interviews to demonstrate in this article how the spatial politics enacted through the construction of the Burj and the tower’s subsequent name change have played a significant role in Dubai’s efforts to achieve ‘global city’ status. In doing so, we extend our understanding of the performative power of spatial inscription in reshaping the geographical imaginaries of ‘global’ urbanity.