Burj Khalifa, Dubai – World’s Tallest (06.08.16)

After last week’s blog on Shibam in Yemen, about the world’s oldest skyscrapers, we are moving this week to the world’s tallest. The Burj Khalifa, located on the northern Gulf of Persia shores, is 500 kms from Shibam, across the Arabian Peninsular in Dubai.


While the size of the world’s tallest building is impressive enough from a distance, it is not until you are up close and personal that the true scale of this US$1.5bn, 24,348 window-ed, neo-futuristic spire really hits you. It’s proper gigantic, proper space-age, a wonderful architect’s ‘city-in-the-sky’. It was inspired, built and finally opened in 2010, all thanks to inspiration from a giant spiral minaret at the Great Mosque of Samarra.


When my family and I stayed 400m away from the construction of the first few floors in 2006, we could never have imagined how vast and mighty the Burj Dubai (as it was then called) would eventually be. Six years later, when it was complete and carried its present name, Burj Khalifa, I visited the 124th floor Observation Deck and stood wide-eyed at the magnificent views.


I thanked my lucky stars I had not been on the high rise construction team. As I gazed down at the distant seafront, newly formed spaghetti-junction road system and turquoise blue Dubai fountain waterways – spectacular in contrast to the horizon-stretching dusty desert beyond – it felt as if I were observing from a spaceship. And I was still forty floors from the top.

The mind-boggling construction statistics soon become unfathomable: the architects’ computer systems rebalance the swing of the 829.8m high structure; it took 330,000 m3 of concrete, 55,000 tonnes of steel and over 22 million man hours to build; it has an air-conditioning system capable of providing the equivalent of 13,000 tons of melting ice in one day; and an internal water system feeding 946,000 litres of water through 100kms of piping.


As incongruous as it is with the surrounding desert and the twinkling city below, I immediately loved it.

Terrific in grandeur, this shiny multi-millionaire block of real estate beats them all. Whether visited during the midday heat or in the evening when it is cooler and the fountains spout colourful waters, it is as magnificent for its size as it is for its surreal, fairytale ambience. From the giant aquaria exhibiting all manner of marine life in the ground floor shopping arcade, to the ear-popping uber-quick lift system, a visit to the Burj Khalifa is as much fun as it is inspirational.


These photos, which I took on a number of visits to Dubai over recent years, show how impressive and extraordinary this mega-large, glistening, twisting spike is. However much or little time you have in Dubai, make sure you don’t miss it.