The developer of a skyscraper set to soar two-thirds of a mile above Dubai said Wednesday it's halting work on the project for a year as the boomtown grapples with the financial crisis.
Nakheel's decision to shelve the landmark development _ which it unveiled only in October _ came as a leading credit rating firm warned that falling real estate prices leave the outlook for the country's banking sector looking negative.
The moves are the latest signs that tough economic realities are quickly catching up with this ambitious, fast-growing city.
A report a day earlier showed home values in the emirate tumbled 8 percent in the last three months from the previous quarter, marking what analysts say is the first such decline in years.
The skyscraper _ billed as at least two-thirds of a mile tall, or the height of more than three of New York's Chrysler Buildings stacked on top of one another _ was designed to top a rival's nearly complete tower that will be the world's highest.
In response to questions, state-owned Nakheel said in a brief statement that "further work" on the building's foundations "will commence in 12 months." The developer did not say how much work, if any, has already been completed.
"This is part of our readjustment of our immediate business plans to better reflect the current market trends and match supply with demand," the company said.
Meanwhile, credit rating firm Moody's Investors Service said about the outlook is negative for banks in Dubai and elsewhere in the United Arab Emirates.
The firm cited concern about loans given to "opportunistic" property developers in light of falling real estate prices. Other worrying signs include tighter liquidity, falling equity values, and the steep drop in oil prices, Moody's said.