It didn’t come as a surprise that the Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world, was the first and the only landmark that I could recognize from my airplane window when our evening flight landed in the UAE.
And by some stroke of good yet bitter-sweet fortune, it was also the last stop in the itinerary that Brinee prepared during my weeklong vacation at Dubai – the desert megalopolis, the city of superlatives and my sister’s second home.
At that time, I allowed her complete rein of my schedule, which was a decision that would make me scratch my head and then smile now in retrospect. Almost everyday we visited one new supermall and logged in the process kilometers of just walking around massive airconditioned retail spaces. So you could just imagine why I was looking forward to my last day in Dubai when I could ‘rest’ from all those window-shopping.
But when Saturday finally came, I failed to convince my sister to accompany me At The Top, an observation deck located at the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa. She told me that “she’s afraid of heights and that she could always go anytime if she wanted to do something crazy in her life.”
The early morning queue to the top was made more bearable thanks to the displays showcasing the grandeur of the Burj Khalifa. It comprises 330,000 cubic meters of concrete, 103,000 sq meteres of glass and took 22 million man hours to build the tower in a span of 6 years.
There are many more facts and figures plastered on the walls to let one really appreciate the skyscraper’s scale and the city’s ambition as well. But I like the fact that it’s over-all look is less imposing than its engineering and its 9 world records. It is said the building’s design was inspired by by the well-proportioned structure of the Spider Lily (Hymenocallis), a regional desert flower.
By the time I stepped out of the elevator, I would be lying if I say that the soundtrack that immediately played at the back of my head was an Imagine Dragons single. Instead, it was that Carpenters song, the one with the very familiar and sappy tune. Because even for a few minutes, I really felt that I was at the top of the world.
Thankfully I managed to shut myself up and just sang the lyrics in my mind as I watched Dubai’s sand dunes from afar, the luxurious Burj Al Arab near the Gulf, the various interchanges along SZR (Sheik Zayed Road) and the skyscrapers in the vicinity.
Everything looked like Lego masterpieces or a scene in the Game of Thrones’ opening title at this elevation. It was breathtaking, beautiful and overwhelming. Everything was hard to take all in, I almost wanted to cry.
It’s one of those moments where you’d like to share with someone special in your life. I silently prayed that if I could return to Dubai someday, I’ll drag my sister to this same spot (or At The Top Sky located 24 floors higher) and that my parents could also see this view sooner than later.
On my way back, I recalled what someone told me about the Burj Khalifa. My classmate said that it looked like a raised middle finger in the desert. The analogy is quite true, in both the literal sense and otherwise.
This 828m engineering marvel indeed is one of Dubai’s many ways of telling the whole world that “Just when you thought you have figured it out, wait for us. We’ll shatter your Guinnness records and even make new categories along the way.” So if they were able to build a half-a-mile-high skyscraper in the middle of a desert, then anything is possible in Dubai.
I then found my beaming sister waiting for me by the lobby.
1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd
Dubai , United Arab Emirates
At The Top ticket prices depend on the time of the day. Non-prime hourscosts AED 125 for adults and AED 95 for children (4-12 yrs).
Tickets for prime hours cost a bit more but should be worth it if you want to see the Dubai sunset and the glittering city at night.
For updates on promotions, ticket schedules and prices, visit the Burj Khalifa website.