Osama bin Laden’s family business is on the short list of contractors bidding to build the world’s tallest skyscraper.

It may seem tragically ironic that the name most closely associated with the destruction of New York’s World Trade Center may soon be associated with the construction of the world’s tallest building.

But, nevertheless, according to officials in Dubai – the site of the Burj Dubai, scheduled for completion in 2008 – that is more than a distinct possibility.

The Saudi Binladin Group, the biggest developer in the kingdom, begun by Osama bin Laden’s father, is in the running for the project.

The skyscraper will be nearly half a mile and about one-third taller than the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. It will include a hotel wing, apartments, offices, entertainment centers and restaurants.

The project also includes one of the world’s largest malls – the Dubai Mall with over 2 million square feet of retail space – and a mock “old town,” making it “a city within a city.”

Record-obsessed Dubai is already home to the world’s largest man-made island, the Palm Jumeirah, and the world’s first seven-star hotel, the Burj Al-Arab.

The Binladin group built its considerable fortune by carrying out many projects for the royal family in Saudi Arabia – including the the expansion of the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina.

Construction of the Burj Dubai project has already started, with excavation of the site completed recently.

Sales of residential units in the tower will start soon, said an official with Emaar Properties.

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