It’s not everyday that the opportunity to visit a Guinness World Record presents itself. Travelling in the superfast lifts to the 124th floor of the World’s tallest building the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is available to anybody visiting the Emirate and breaks a number of records.
The space age looking building located in fashionable ‘Downtown Dubai’ among other high-rise buildings, shopping malls, stylish restaurants, chic coffee shops and the famous dancing fountains. The shimmering needle of glass dominates the cityscape however, stretching high into the hazy Dubai sky and protruding directly from the modernist concrete oasis.
It apparently isn’t the building with the most glass but possibly the most window cleaners. I counted a team of 15 suspended several hundred floors off the ground, like tiny spiders on a thread of web.
It is a very popular attraction and even at midday there are many visitors waiting patiently in line to ride the elevators. At peak times such as sunset it is fully booked despite costing around £20 for the experience and 4 times this amount for the pleasure of jumping the queues.
There are a few displays in the ticket sales area, including a scale model of the tower, a visual comparison chart of the current highest buildings on the planet and various inspiring comments at the staging points on the way to the top.
The visit to the observation deck named the ‘At the Top’ experience is a bit of a misnomer, there are a further 39 floors. These are mainly apartments many of which are still unoccupied, it seems the world’s most desirable address is not as popular as anticipated.
The views from the deck are worth the queues, looking down over the city, the promenade area is far below where people seem like ants staring upwards at the tower as the viewer did just minutes before. The outskirts of the modern city which rose literally rose out of the desert can easily be seen, along with the distant gulf. Ssurrounded by further tall buildings, but towering high above them all, casting a substantial shadow like a huge sundial.
An ever-present heat haze hangs over Dubai, as if looking at it through a sheet of glazed glass. It does not detract from the views and it is easy to imagine these impressive views as the sun goes down.
The Burj Khalifa was named after the leader of oil wealthy neighbour Abu Dhabi which recently bailed out the Emirate to the tune of a cool £6.13 billion. This is apparently the current cost of having a world record named after you.
At 829.8m it is the tallest existing man-made structure but it breaks several other records. This includes the highest and fastest elevators installation, the highest restaurant and nightclub, the list goes on however it is does not have the highest observation deck. It did when built but has since been overtaken by the Cloud Top 488 on top of the Canton Tower. Admiring the views however I didn’t mind, it still felt like being on top of the World just a for a few minutes.