Sunday, November 25, 2012

United Arab Emirates Part II - The Burj Khalifa, Dubai

Burj Khalifa, Dubai (it's the tall spindly building to the right)
The Burj Khalifa, otherwise known as the world's tallest building, is pretty freaking amazing.

According to Wikipedia (my foremost resource in all things), it stands at 2,722 feet. That's pretty damn impressive.

To go to the observation deck, you must...absolutely tickets ahead of time. And to book sunset tickets, it's advised you get on that about two weeks in advance. You can book online, which is advised, and it's 100 dirhams (about $27). But it's 400 dirhams ($108) at the gate if you don't book in advance. 

The entrance to the Burj is actually in the Dubai Mall. You're going to want to get there about 10-15 minutes before your allotted enter time, because you're going to stand in line and (of course) go through security. But - don't worry - they have built this added waiting time into your scheduled tour time. In fact, it will take you about 30 minutes to get from the entrance to the observation deck but this time can be considerably shorter if you get there on the early side so you don't have to wait in the massive line.

They do give you nice things to look at while you're waiting in line, such as this beautiful sculpture thingy.

You're going to wait in line for awhile, and there will be tons of signs with interesting facts about the construction of the world's tallest building. In fact, you may start to feel as though the building is selling itself to you, even though you've already paid $27 (or $108 if you failed to plan accordingly, shame on you, world traveler!) to wait in line to take the world's fastest elevator to the observation deck. You will learn how many individuals helped to build this building (approximately a baquillion), how much money it cost (the weight of Saturn), and what a great architectural feat the whole thing was (I've got nothing...because it is).

So, you wait in line, then you crowd into an elevator that delights with dazzling lights and music and a super-smooth ride for about thirty seconds. And then you're there - on the observation deck of the tallest building in the world, and your first sight when you step out onto the open-air deck is....

The Dubai mall, from which you've just come! 

And the slightly sobering knowledge that you are not, in fact, at the top of the world's tallest building, but merely the public observation deck. I felt slightly jilted. I WANTED TO GO TO THE TOP.

Still, the view is pretty spectacular....

Mah feet.

The World Archipelago islands, Dubai


The Gentleman and myself, enjoying the view
It's interesting to note that there is, actually, a gold ATM located on the observation deck floor, for all of your gold needs. I'm not kidding - you put in some money, and out comes a little gold charm. I was disappointed. Had there been gold bars disbursed, I might have bought one. Or - oooh! - gold coins! I could collect them and then I could pile them up and swim in them like Scrooge McDuck. RICHES!

The Burj was definitely a touristy experience worth doing. The view is beautiful, but it's really only of Dubai proper because what's outside of it is, well, nothing but desert. And while the heat is tolerable and the light delightful at sunset, don't expect to see a fantastically striated sky. The mix of humidity from the Persian Gulf and dust from the desert creates a near-constant haze that will mute any semblance of a true sunset. If you get lucky on a perfectly clear day, I'm told (by The Canadian Lebanese) that it's incredible, but those days are rare.

And then, when they finish building the Tower of the Sun in Ecuador, you can go visit that and say HA, Burj Khalifa, you're NO LONGER THE TALLEST! If you were so inclined.

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