Burj Khalifa, Dubai

Dubai is home to the world’s tallest building on earth, the Burj Khalifa  It’s in downtown Dubai and can be accessed from the Dubai Mall and hosts an observation tower as well as the Armani Hotel, office space and residences for those of us with a few million to spare 🙂  Its observation tower is a popular visitor attraction and as Mr ATWWAH likes an impressive building and an observation deck we spent a morning of our holiday there.

A big proportion of my career has been spent in the attractions industry so I never turn down an opportunity to visit one and you can’t help but look at things from an operator’s perspective when you are there fixating on operational issues such as queues, signage, the people who work there etc and first impressions were good.  We booked our tickets online whilst in Dubai but I do recommend booking before you get to Dubai if you are only there on a short trip as we couldn’t get our first choice of days.  All the tickets are timed so you know when to rock up and queues were at a minimum.  We picked the tickets up easily and then headed inside.  You have to go through a security check similar to an airport with everything, including yourselves, going through scanners.

Once through security you are in a ‘moving queue’ as at first you don’t really realise you are in a queue as you are still on the move.  This is just to get you to the lifts which take you up to the observation deck.  The queue was no problem at all though and you could take your time and read all the facts on the walls about the construction of the building and look at the models.  One thing I really noticed when in Dubai was the people who lived there were really proud of what had been achieved.  And, this plaque which was on the wall in the queue sort of sums this up.


From the earth to the sky….

I really liked that pride.  Love or hate Dubai and what it stands for you can’t take away from the fact that it has achieved so much in a short period of time.  I don’t remember Londoners getting so excited about The Shard and its construction, the Dubai people and those who go there from India etc to make a living don’t seem to have our cynicism.

The marketer in me was amused to see this plaque on public display.  Most brands have something like this written about them somewhere by a marketer, and often an agency, who have spent weeks, sometimes months (and lots of cash) deliberating over it, rewriting it, discussing it to then agree it, put it in a brand book and refer back to it every now and again.  They are never for public consumption.  I liked that it was here.  It showed an innocent pride in what they had created and what they believed a building and its brand meant to people.


I am Burj Khalifa

Anyway, back to the experience.  The journey to the top in the lift is pretty impressive as you don’t really feel the lift moving and it goes fast.  Mr ATWWAH was most impressed by the fact you only get one lift to the top and don’t have to change as you do at some other observation attractions.  It’s a shame that the lift entertainment involves adverts for the Armani Hotel on the video etc.  Something more about the construction of the building would have been more interesting.

Once at the top it is much like any other observation deck.  Lots of people with cameras jostling for the best view, people slightly disappointed by the view due to the weather and those trying to bend down/squat/point to get a quirky picture.  On the morning we went, we had a 12 noon slot, the sky was still pretty overcast so the views weren’t that amazing.  Master ATWWAH was really enjoying looking down on Dubai and telling us what he could see and searching out the dancing fountains.  I felt quite queasy when I looked down.  This sounds really morbid but whenever I am on an observation deck like that I can’t help but think of the poor victims of September 11th and those who decided they would rather jump from the building than die another way.

You can stay on the observation deck for as long as you like and it was nice to be outside, there are also views from inside too.  Although it was busy it didn’t feel horribly so and you could easily get a good view and the photos you wanted.

Burj Khalifa

Master ATWWAH trying to find the dancing fountains

However, the big disappointment is that the observation deck isn’t actually at the top of the building.  If you take a look up you can see the rest of the building so you do feel slightly cheated that although you’re high, you are not actually at the top.  You can’t help but feel cheated  And, this is reinforced further when you are inside and see this sign

Plan of levels

Oh, we’re not as high as we thought….


The building has 200 levels but you only actually get to level 124.  So, for any fact fans out there although the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world it is only the third highest observation deck coming in behind the Shanghai World Finance Centre (474m) and the Canton Tower, Guangzhou, China (488m)

Is it worth a visit?  Sort of.  If you are into impressive buildings and don’t just want to see them from the outside.  I’d definitely recommend a clear day as the views we had weren’t brilliant but as you have to book tickets in advance you can’t always be sure what the weather will be like.  On the day tickets can be bought at the ticket desk in the Dubai Mall but you are not guaranteed that you will get in.  And, if you do want to get right to the top maybe call an estate agent and feign interest in their residences or office space?  Hmm….



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