Burj Khalifa Tower: the world highest building

You've probably all previously heard of or seen this landmark of the United Arab Emirates: the Burj Khalifa Tower of Dubai, the tallest structure ever built by man. 

History of the project and of the name

Let us go back to the beginning. In 2003, building are arising from everywhere in Dubai.  The wildest projects (Palm Jumeirah, Dubai World, Dubai Land) are launched one after the other (some of these projects will never be finished because of the economic crisis which hit Dubai hard in 2009). 

Emaar, one of the largest real estate companies in Dubai, announced in 2003 that it intended to break the record for the tallest tower in the world. At that time, the tower was to be called Burj Dubai, and was supposed to be a monument in celebration of Dubai. The height of the tower, originally planned to be 560 meters, had increased continuously to ensure the record was held for as long as possible.
From that moment onwards, as with many projects in the UAE, everything went very quickly. In late 2004, the construction site began. The first floor came out of the ground in late 2005, and the tower grew at a staggering speed.
On 4th January 2010, the tower was inaugurated and partially opened to the public, breaking numerous world records.

Meanwhile, the economic crisis had hit Dubai hard, draining the money out of the emirate, leaving many developers penniless. The emirate of Abu Dhabi had no interest in seeing the collapse of its neighbour, so they decided to fund up to $ 10 billion worth of ongoing projects in Dubai. In return for this generous assistance, the Burj Dubai had its name changed to Burj Khalifa just before its inauguration, after Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, the Emir of Abu Dhabi.

Burj Khalifa: numbers and records

To give you an idea of the scale of the achievement that is the Burj Khalifa, here are some statistics:
  • 828 meters high, it is almost three Eiffel Towers stacked on top of each other, and that's the record for the tallest structure ever built by man
  • 160 habitable floors, the last culminating at 636 meters height
  • 24,348 windows, for a facade ​​entirely made of glass and aluminum
  • 5 years of construction, a speed record for a project of this size
  • the fastest elevators in the world, 18 meters per second (64 km/h) at its maximum speed
  • 95 km  is the ground distance from which you can see the tower (on a clear day)

Cranes in Burj Khalifa construction site

It is also at the construction site of the Burj Khalifa that the highest cranes in the world were mounted. Despite this, no crane could bring the construction materials & equipement directly to the top of the tower under construction. This was one of the reasons for having these large staggered balconies that we see today. Huge cranes were installed on each of these balconies, and raised materials to the higher level.

Visit Burj Khalifa

It is possible to visit the Burj Khalifa Tower.
In 2011 the price is 100 dirhams if you book in advance, or 400 AED for immediate entry.
Indeed, to avoid excessive affluence, you have to buy a ticket in advance, either at the booth at the foot of the tower or by internet on http://www.burjkhalifa.ae/ for 100 AED. For the impatient who do not want to wait, the price is 400 AED.

The tower is open every weekday from 10 am to 22h, or midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. The best time to go is definitely a little before sunset (so you can see the panorama both in the day and at night), preferably on a weekday (definitely less crowded).
The time of the visit is not limited, so you can stay up there as long as you want.

Important detail, the viewing platform is not at the very top of the tower (each floor area gradually decreases as one goes up, and the upper floors are too small to contain all visitors). The viewing platform is at 450 meters height, on the 124th floor. Although it's already very high, some may be disappointed not to be at the very top.