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Burj Khalifa (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

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Tallest building in the World

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    • More +
      16.04.2013 20:43
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      Feel like you are (almost) on top of the world!

      Burj Khalifa needs no other introduction than that it is the tallest building in the world. And by quite some considerable margin. It is located in Dubai in the Downtown area and offers unrivalled views over the city and the desert beyond. If you are in Dubai, you have to visit!

      A Little Background Information

      The Burj Khalifa was built between 2004 and 2009 and is the tallest man made structure in the world at a whopping 829.8 metres tall. It was originally called Burj Dubai, but when the Dubai powers that be ran out of money for it's completion, they had to borrow money from neighbouring Abu Dhabi. It is thought that they changed the name to honour the UAE President Khalifa bin Zayhed Al Nahyanwho gave the project huge support. The building has suffered greatly from the global economic crisis and ten months after it's official opening, much of it remained empty. After a dramatic dip in prices, overseas investors have bought property in the tower and now they say 80% of it is occupied. As well as 900 residences, there is a hotel and 37 floors of office space inside the tower.Aside from being the tallest tower in the world, Burj Khalifa has earned a number of other accolades:

      Tallest building in the world
      Tallest free-standing structure in the world
      Highest number of stories in the world
      Highest occupied floor in the world
      Highest outdoor observation deck in the world
      Elevator with the longest travel distance in the world
      Tallest service elevator in the world

      Burj Khalifa has also gained notoriety in popular culture, having featured heavily in the newest Mission:Impossible, Ghost Protocol film, with some scenes showing Tom Cruise climbing up the side of it. It has also been used for various stunts, both legally and illegally. Two men broke the world record for BASE jumping from a building when they jumped from the 160th floor. Alain Robert (also known as Spider Man) also climbed the side of the building in 2011, taking 6 hours to do so.

      Booking and Getting There

      I strongly recommend pre booking a ticket for the At The Top Experience (which is the package that takes you to the observation deck about two thirds of the way up the Burj). It is obviously an incredibly popular attraction and tickets often sell out days if not weeks in advance. We managed to get tickets three days before we visited, but they were limited, so if you are there only for a short time or you have a specific visit time in mind, booking is essential. You can buy tickets at the information desk at the bottom of the tower or pre book online at http://www.burjkhalifa.ae/

      Tickets are available in half an hour slots and the whole visit will take in the region of an hour and a half. The slots in the afternoon tend to go first and the website tells you whether tickets are available, sold out or limited availability. Going in the morning can be a dangerous game because there is often a low fog in the city which doesn't clear properly until about lunch time so the views are obviously not as good. We went at 2pm and visibility was excellent.

      Getting there is pretty easy as it is a well placed attraction and taxi drivers can drop you right outside. The sky train goes straight to the Dubai Mall which is where the At The Top attraction begins. The sky train is cheap and easy to use, although it's a fair old trek (on mostly moving walkways) from the station to the attraction. It's not a strenuous walk, but you'll have to leave at least 20 minutes for it.

      The Start of The Visit

      You have to arrive at the information desk and start of the tour 15 minutes before your booked time. Don't arrive early though, because they won't let you in as they operate a very strict entry regime. You begin by looking at the information about the tower, which is quite funky because there is a huge display that compares the tallest buildings in the world. There is also a scale model of the tower in the middle of the queuing system that tells you a bit about the tower and it's construction. It is all about the numbers and is very interesting with details about the number of workers needed, the number of floors and the timescale of construction.

      The first thing you do is walk down some stairs to a viewing area where you can see straight up the side of the building from its very base which is pretty awesome. Then you go into a lift, which moves understandably quickly. There is a lift operator in with you who will answer questions if you have any. This whole part of the visit is essentially a queue, but it is broken up into different bits so you don't feel like you are waiting ages at any particular bit and you move pretty quickly. I imagine at peak times it can be very tiresome, but it was fine for us.

      At The Top

      The top is absolutely breath taking, there is no other word for it. I don't think the observation deck, which is at 124 floors and 452 metres, is the highest in the world. The Canton and Shanghai Towers, both in China have higher decks. To be honest I was a little disappointed by this before I booked the visit because I kind of thought that if we were going up the tallest tower in the world, we should at least get to see from the highest observation deck in the world to. Having now visited though, I do I have to say that this one has a pretty good plus point in that you can actually go outside, which is something else.

      On the inside, there are floor to ceiling windows which obviously give magnificent views over the city and its main sights including The Palm and The World. There are little screens that are like telescopes and allow you to zoom in on things in the distance, which are great and are free to use.

      When you go outside, the first thing that hits you is the wind. Even on a lovely sunny day as it was when we visited, it was very windy. If you are afraid of heights, you probably shouldn't visit at all, but you definitely won't like being outside! Me? I loved it. It was fabulous for taking pictures because you don't get any glare from the windows. There are little viewing points all the way round so you can stick you camera through and snap away, totally unobstructed.

      There are toilets and a ridiculously over priced gift shop up on the observation deck, and not much else. You can spend as long as you want up on this level and it is a pretty big area so didn't get overcrowded whilst we were up there. I think the number of people moderates itself because there isn't a lot to do other than look at the views and whilst some people could spend all day doing it, I think many underestimate how high it is a shoot straight back down again! We went round in a loop twice and it took as about 25 minutes, stopping to look at very regular intervals.

      Essential Information

      The website that I mentioned before is very handy, but the general information for visiting is as follows:

      Opening Times

      Sunday to Wednesday - 9am until midnight
      Thursday - 8.30 am until midnight
      Friday to Saturday - 4.30am until midnight

      Prices

      Adults (13 years plus) 125 dirhams, which is about £22
      Children - 95 dirhams, which is about £16
      Infants are free

      It isn't cheap to visit, but then you can't exactly visit the world's tallest building anywhere else and I think it is probably worth it. If you do miss out on booking a ticket in advance, then money will get you past the door - you can get immediate entry for 400 dirhams, which is roughly £70. Another reason to make sure you book in advance!

      Would I Recommend It?

      To be honest, I didn't like Dubai. As a place, I thought is was far too pretentious and far too sprawling a city to enjoy. Having said that I thought the Burj Khalifa visit was great and definitely worth going to. It was extremely well organised and there was lots of really interesting stuff on the way up. The views and feeling of being so high up were outstanding and I would absolutely recommend it.

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      • More +
        09.03.2011 12:14
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        A beautiful building now the tallest in the world

        The Burj Khalifa
        The amazing tower of the Burj Khalifa stands out high above the other high rise buildings in the skyline of Dubai. It is the highest building in the world at the present time and probably will keep the honour for some time as the world economic situation doesn't really lend itself to ambitious projects like this at this point in time. The building was begun in 2004 and was a project that involved experts from around the world.

        The next tallest building after is the CN Tower in Toronto at 553.33m a long way short of this one as the exact height of the tower is 828 m and the lift up to the 124th floor takes only 69 seconds. You hardly feel any movement but you can see where you are by flashing lights on each floor of an image within the lift. The only sensation I had was to feel the pressure of my ears popping.

        There are just so many amazing facts about this building:
        * The entire park and grounds of the property cover11 hectares and include, 6 water features and 3000 underground parking spaces.

        * The superstructure is supported by a large reinforced concrete mat, which is in turn supported by bored reinforced concrete piles. The mat is 3.7 meters thick and has 12,500 cubic meters of concrete. The concrete piles are 1.5 meter diameter x 43 meter long.

        * Close to 26,000 glass panels, each individually hand-cut, were used in the exterior cladding of Burj Khalifa.


        * Over 300 cladding specialists from China were brought in for the cladding work on the tower

        * The curtain wall of Burj Khalifa is equivalent to 17 football (soccer) fields or 25 American football fields.


        * The spire was constructed from inside the building and jacked to its full height of over 200 meters (700 feet) using a hydraulic pump.


        If you are like me then you will be mind blown by those facts. There were so many more on display around the building as you made your way to the lifts to go up and then again on the walk back from the building to the Dubai Mall. Every step of the way there was something else that you could read about this building, how it was designed, who it was designed by, all the people that were involved with its coming in to being were pictured in a display with an explanation of their role. This was an international project which involved people from countries all around the world.


        ABOUT OUR VISIT:

        We bought our tickets before our cruise ready for the day the ship was in Dubai at the end of the cruise. We did this for two reasons, firstly they are 100 UAD which is about 20 pounds but if you bought them on the day it was 400UAD which is a considerable price hike. They second reason was that the tickets sold really quickly and indeed on the day if we had left it we would not have been able to buy a ticket. This was probably because there were two cruise ships in the harbor that day.

        The tickets are purchased in the Dubai Mall and not in the actual Burj Khalifa building which you cannot access from anywhere except the mall unless staying in the hotel or if you are a resident or work there and their access is through a different route. You are not invited to come through to the waiting area until it is your allocated time. It is all very carefully timed and organization is slick and efficient.

        Once through into the waiting area you can study the facts around the base of a replica model of the building and pose for a photo provided you are not there with a group of people who hog the space around it and don't want to share. From here you are taken on the 65-metre-long moving walkways along to the actual building and while zipping along these walkways you are treated to photos and more information from the earliest days of Dubai to the present.

        At the end of one walkway you can look through a skylight viewing point for a close-up view of the Burj Khalifa which is designed to frame the tower perfectly. At all points you are gently guided by assistants until you get to the lifts. Here you are greeted by a friendly assistant who herds you into groups of the appropriate number ready for each lift.

        I am not sure how many of us were in each lift but it was not too squashed but there were quite a few of us. The ascent to the 124th floor observation deck in this in a high-speed elevator is so completely quiet and motionless that apart from my ears popping I couldn't tell we were moving. The lift travels at 10 meters per second but feels as though it isn't moving at all though the flashing lights on the wall indicate where abouts you are in the ascent or descent.

        As the doors open on the 124th floor you are greeted with floor-to-ceiling glass walls so that the view you get is totally unobstructed 360-degree view of the city. One section had an open section so you could take photos through the windowless part to avoid marks on your photos. The side with the open air terrace area was much better for both views and photo taking as the other side has quite mucky windows and the light was not as good either. You can take as long as you want up on the deck but really once you have been up there half an hour or so you gave seen it all and then you join the queue to go back down again.


        There were Special telescopes provided at a cost but we didn't bother as were quite a bit more and we really just wanted to experience the view and look down from the tallest building in the world yet again (they keep growing all the time). There is the inevitable gift shop with overpriced tat. A model of the Burj Khalifa was about 60 quid, mugs were about 10 quid and so one. There was nothing to tempt us to parting with any of our hard earned money!


        WE LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BURJ
        Within this building you will find that there are 37 floors of offices and The Armani Hotel which has 160 guestrooms and suites. There are 900 private residences in the Burj Khalifa as well as 144 private residences in the Armani Residences and there is also a 4-storey fitness and recreation annex. The "Burj Dubai" as it was called prior to its official opening was designed as a "city within a city" - with their own lawns, boulevards and parks. It was designed by an American architect Adrian Smith and construction costs are well into the billions.


        When Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum opened the 828-meter building then called Burj Dubai (Dubai Tower) on 4th January 2010 it was renamed in honour of the UAE President Sheikh Khalifa ibn Zayed Al-Nahyan. This might have something to do with the fact that he handed out great sums of money (around 10 billion I believe) to Dubai to bail them out of financial difficulties around this time.


        THINGS I WAS ESPECIALLY IMPRESSED BY

        The Burj Khalifa is designed to be totally self-sufficient with electricity. It generates electricity using a 61-meter turbine which rotates in the wind. It also has 15 thousand m ² of solar panels located in the walls and windows of the tower. The tower's peak electrical demand is 36mW, equal to about 360,000 100 Watt bulbs operating simultaneously.

        As well as this the building is equipped with special protection from the sun and reflective glass panels, which will reduce heat inside the premises, which reduces the need for air conditioning. Dubai's hot, humid climate combined with the building's cooling requirements creates a significant amount of condensation. This water is collected and drained in a separate piping system to a holding tank in the basement car park. I was staggered to learn that this condensate collection system provides about 15 million gallons of water per year which is equal to about 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

        The tower's water system supplies an average of 946,000 litres of water daily and at At peak cooling requirements the Burj Khalifa will require about 10,000 tons of cooling, equal to the cooling capacity provided by about 10,000 tons of melting ice.

        As you imagine access for the tower's exterior for both window washing as well as general maintenance is a major challenge .There are 18 permanently installed track and fixed telescopic, cradle equipped, building maintenance units. The track mounted units are stored in within the structure so that they cannot be seen when not in use. These manned cradles can access the entire outside from tower top down to level seven. If all things run as they should then it will take three to four months to clean the entire exterior.


        Figures like this just boggle my mind and I am in awe of the people who have the brain and ability to design and build something as beautiful and environmentally positive as this. I also think it is admirable that so many people from so many countries in the world contributed to its creation in so many different ways.


        So although the building is in Dubai and they are justifiably proud of it, in many ways it is a creation that the world can feel proud of as so many countries' people have had a hand in its creation.


        SAFETY:
        I was pleased to hear that fire safety was of major importance. Speedy and safe evacuation of such a tall building is essential and so Concrete surrounds all stairwells and the building service and fireman's lift has a capacity of 5,500 kg and it is the world's tallest service elevator. There are also pressurized, air-conditioned refuge areas located approximately every 25 floors.


        The amazing spiraling shape of the building is not only for its looks but also helps to reduce the wind forces on the tower. This stepping and shaping of the tower has the effect of "confusing the wind" as the wind vortices never get themselves sorted out over the height of the building as each new tier means that the wind encounters a different building shape.

        I was mightily impressed with this building in every way. It is stunningly beautiful in both night and day. From start to finish the visit is run efficiently and everyone we came across who was an official was polite and knowledgeable I would thoroughly recommend a visit and book ahead as it costs less and it does gets very booked up so if you leave it to the day you might miss outer.

        Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.
        ©Catsholiday

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