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Anyone who has followed my blog for a while will know about my theory that every destination hoping to attract tourists will have one landmark labelled as the ‘must see/do’. If there isn’t already a suitable choice attached to their local history, they’ll build something. In Dubai it is the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.
Modern Dubai prides itself on pushing boundaries and challenging what is considered impossible. It was inevitable they would build the tallest building.
Burj Khalifa is all about numbers. For the moment you enter the bottom of the tower at the Dubai Mall (the world’s largest shopping centre, of course), you are bombarded with facts and figures about it’s vision, construction and everyday life. At 828m, it is seven times the height of Big Ben. It took only 6 years to build from excavation, officially opening 4th January 2010. Up to 13,000 workers a day were involved in it’s construction.
If you’re looking for some luxury accommodation during your Dubai visit, there is Armani Hotel on the lower levels of Burj Khalifa. Above the hotel, floors are taken up with luxury apartments and offices.
The tower has 160 storeys in total. Most daytrippers visit floors 124 and 125, where there are observation decks that provide impressive views over the city. Unfortunately during my visit it was quite foggy, but on a clear day you can see The Palm and Burj Al-Arab. Although I wasn’t so lucky, I could just about make out the new islands development The World on the horizon, which is still under construction. A pre-booked online ticket will cost you 100 AED (approx. £20). If you are travelling on a budget, I suggest you book your ticket in advance of your trip. If, like me, you are not so organised, you could end up spending a lot more. As with everything in Dubai, there is a VIP option. For 500 AED you can buy a SKY ticket (it’s cheaper if you visit in the evening). This gets you an hour in the SKY lounge on floor 148 accompanied by a Guest Ambassador. At 555m, the SKY lounge is the world’s highest observation deck. You also get to jump the queues, which is useful once you drop back down to the much busier 124 and 125 floors, and refreshments both at the bottom while you wait for the lift and once you’re in the SKY lounge. Our Guest Ambassador was a lovely lady from Colombia who provided us with lots of interesting facts and stories about the tower, and happily answered our many questions that she probably gets asked a hundred times a day. In a move that I was quickly learning is typical of Dubai, the design of the building also includes certain features that very few people will ever appreciate. For example, apparently if you look at the building from directly above, it is in the shape of a flower. I can’t imagine how much time and energy must have gone into that one design element, on the rare chance that someone will fly over the top of the tower and notice. There were things I learnt that I never would have thought to question. Like, for example, how they pump water up 160 storeys. Having lived in places where they struggle to get water past the third floor, I realise what an incredible feat of engineering Burj Khalifa is.
If you time your visit right, it’s also worth catching the Dubai Fountain at the base of Burj Khalifa. Set to music, the fountain dazzles spectators at 1pm every day and also at regular intervals in the evening. As the display only lasts 3 minutes, though, I wouldn’t go out of your way to see it.