After three attempts, hundred bucks, and about five hundred meters up, is the At the Top of Burj Khalifa experience worth it?
Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world located in Downtown Dubai. It is designed by Adrian Smith as a Design Partner of SOM. The Building has a height of 829.5 meters including the tip with 164 floors, 9 of those are for maintenance.
The concept behind the design came from the geometries of the regional desert flower and patterning systems embodied in Islamic Architecture. The building is built with reinforced concrete and glass cladding designed to withstand Dubai’s hot summer temperatures, the base of the building has a Y-shaped tripartite floor geometry to optimize the residential and hotel spaces. At the center of the floor, geometry is a central core where the Y-shaped volumes of the floor upon the rising act as the buttress for the tower’s core. As the tower rises, setbacks occur in an upward spiral pattern reducing the building’s mass as it goes higher.
Burj Khalifa boasts having a full view of Dubai skyline and even Iran shores at the topmost floor when climate and visibility permits. One of the observation decks open for the public is the At the Top where people can see the surrounding areas of Burj Khalifa from 124th and 125th floor about 488 meters high.
124th floor has an open deck with a view of Dubai Mall, the end of Dubai Creek, the Desert, and the future location of Santiago Calatrava’s Observation tower which will be open for Dubai world expo on 2020. The rest of the 124th and 125th floors are enclosed but have the view of reclaimed Islands such as the Palm, and The World. It also has a view of the old Dubai to Sharjah, Downtown Dubai, and Dubai Shoreline.
The lobbies going to the observation deck can be found on the lower ground floor of Dubai Mall near the entrance to Dubai Fountain and food court area. They do sell tickets over-the-counter but they are usually limited depending on the availability and demand so it is better to buy your tickets online through their website or you can ask your hotel to book for you. Take note that tickets bought directly from Burj Khalifa website are WAY cheaper than the tickets offered in travel agencies. Regular rates for non-peak hours which is from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm and 7 pm till closing is 135 AED while 210 AED during peak hours from 3 pm to 6 pm.
It’s advisable to arrive at the lobby 30 minutes before the actual check-in time to avoid the hassle of long queues at the security, if you checked in online and have a printed copy of the ticket, the security will immediately direct you to your designated lobby. Water, food and big bags are not allowed in the observation deck but these can be deposited to the baggage counter in the lobby.
There will be a series of exhibits about the architecture, construction, and technology behind Burj Khalifa before entering the elevator lobby. After the exhibit, visitors will be held and grouped in front of two elevators that alternately bring visitors at the top. Each elevator has a speed of 10 meters per second making it a 2 minutes ride to the Observation Deck.
Upon arrival, the idea of being at the top of the world is overwhelming, seeing the cars on the highway as small as ants, the tall buildings looking like legos and seeing the border of Dubai along the horizon are all captivating. Even if the booked slot is at 12:30 pm, the tourists didn’t mind the sun because of the windy and colder temperature at the deck compared to the ground.
Tourists can use the telescopes with built-in LED displays of the past and present Dubai sharing the development for the past 48 years. This will show the drastic changes in the landscape from being a complete desert to developing infrastructures, skyscrapers and reclaimed islands.
Every corner offers an instagrammable view and people can never grow tired looking at the different views offered. Visitors can stay up to 2 hours and enjoy several VR and AR booths featuring Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol stunt from the movie. (If you remember, they shoot Ghost Protocol in Burj Khalifa).
From an Architect’s perspective, the views from the observation deck are underwhelming at first because you basically see an unfinished city. However, an Architect does not focus on the finished product alone but he values the process of achieving the goal. It’s an exciting idea to document a city from start to finish and that is what Burj Khalifa is offering for design professionals.
Looking into the views offered, designers can see the urban planning of Dubai, construction of reclaimed islands and construction of nearby buildings and Dubai Creek Tower. One striking characteristic of construction works in Dubai is the maintenance and cleanliness of the site which is a drastic contrast even to the top-billed Contractors in the country. Another is the efficiency of infrastructure and roadways which can be seen from the observation deck.
It is best to visit Burj Khalifa every 3 to 5 years to have a chance of documenting milestone changes around the area, the time frame will also give something new to the visitors making experience for each person compared to the ones who visited prior.
December is the peak month with the celebration of National Day, Christmas and New Year all packed in it. So be sure to book a week or a month before the visit to Burj Khalifa. It’s also not advisable to visit during summer because of the desert heat reaching up to 45 deg. Celsius.
You can check the website from time to time for Promos such as watching the sunrise at Burj Khalifa, At the top plus Burj Khalifa Club, SKY Burj Khalifa and many more.