Dubai has opened the world's first functioning 3D-printed office building, part of a drive by the Gulf's main tourism and business hub to develop technology that cuts costs and saves time.

The printers are used industrially and also on a smaller scale to make digitally designed, three-dimensional objects from plastic.

The one-storey prototype building, with floorspace of about 250 square meters, used a 6m x 36.5m x 12m printer, the government said.

"This is the first 3D-printed building in the world, and it's not just a building, it has fully functional offices and staff. We believe this is just the beginning. The world will change."  

 -UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Mohamed Al Gergawi

The arc-shaped office, built in 17 days and costing about $140,000, will be the temporary headquarters of Dubai Future Foundation, the company behind the project. It is located in the heart of the city.

Gergawi said studies estimated the technique could cut building time by 50-70% and labor costs by 50-80%. Dubai's strategy was to have 25% of the buildings in the Emirates printed by 2030.