Waiting at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport to board a flight to Dubai on a winter morning, I couldn’t avoid surfing “Dubai attractions” on the net. But even before I finished typing Dubai, the drop down prompted for Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Quite realistically, I was travelling for business and the only possible destination out of all Dubai attractions that I could fit in my two-day stay in the middle eastern metropolis was Burj Khalifa.
Claimed to be the most photographed building in the world, “Burj Khalifa comprises a record-breaking 330,000 cubic metres of concrete; 39,000 m/t of reinforced steel; 103,000 square metres (1.1 million square feet) of glass; and, 15,500 square metres (166,800 square feet) of embossed stainless steel. It took 22 million man hours to build the tower” — “Passengers travelling to Dubai are requested to proceed to gate no 32” — my quick research session on Dubai attractions /Burj Khalifa was interrupted by the flight announcement.
February in Dubai is pleasant. The temperatures are about 22- 25 degrees Celsius and the partly cloudy skies make for a lovely stay. Sheikh Bin Zayed road is one of the most central locations from where commuting to places either for business or leisure is extremely convenient. Public transport to most Dubai attractions including the most sought after desert safari is accessible from this area. I landed in Dubai in the morning at about 9 am and by the time I reached my hotel The Emirates Grand on Sheikh Bin Zayed road, it was 11. I had a meeting scheduled during the lunch hours and needed to get ready. What I like about overseas business meetings is that the excitement of exploring a new country just overshadows the pleasant/ not-so-pleasant exchanges that may happen between the handshakes. Quite predictably, what I enjoyed the most in my meeting here was the goodbye handshake and I was off to more important planning for the day — spending an evening at Burj Khalifa complex. A complete tour of the mega tower can be booked online, but I only had one evening and what mattered more was spending some quality time in the company of the iconic building that has been a part of my to-visit list for ages.
Burj Khalifa overlooks the world class Dubai mall, the largest and claimed to be the ‘most visited’ shopping destination in the world. Besides being a shopping and food destination, the mall is home to the famous Dubai aquarium and underwater zoo that features hundreds of aquatic animals. One can also dive into the aquarium and feed the animals. But for those who are happy seeing the aquarium from outside, the glass walls of the mammoth tank provide a complete see-through view of the mesmerising aquatic world inside. The 76000 sq feet indoor theme park with 22 screens makes for a grand entertainment area.
The megaplex has a seating capacity of about 3000 seats. The Dubai Ice Rink is a massive ice skating arena that allows you to indulge in ice sports and boats of Olympic facilities. The mall forms a part of the Burj Khalifa facility at large and a walk through the shopping area leads you gently into the open area with the Burj Khalifa stretching up into the sky in front of you. Don’t forget to say hello to the giant Dubai Dino before stepping out of the mall enclosure.
The musical fountain here is otherworldly. It dances to the tunes of popular tracks — including a few Bollywood songs — on the backdrop of colourful lights and laser beams flashing on the gigantic Burj tower. The five-seven minute show repeats at regular intervals and I decided to sit by the fountain and watched it at least about 10 times. So fascinated I was with the fountain that I did not want to leave its company, even though I was hungry. Wafi Gourmet, which provides an open area seating against the fountain and Burj Khalifa was an obvious choice and I indulged into some Lebanese food followed by a walk along the pathway around the fountain.
A long drive at night and the story of my Bangladeshi taxi driver
I have a problem. When I am on short visits to beautiful places, I just don’t want to sleep. Why waste even a minute away from the big beautiful world out there? So I took a cab back to the Emirates Grand Hotel, my abode on Sheikh Bin Zayed Road and contacted Qadir, a local Taxi driver recommended to me by a colleague.
At about 11 pm, Qadir was at the doorsteps and all set to take me around the city. Dubai never sleeps — Qadir said as he took me through Downtown Dubai. A Bangladeshi, Qadir came here about three years ago. His mother and sister wanted to send him away from their Bangladeshi village because they thought his company of friends was ‘spoiling’ him. “I came to Dubai and started driving Taxi. It was here that I realised that the world is a big place. I made friends, started a small business, failed, stood up, failed and took to taxi again. But I loved every bit of what I did. I am settled here now and don’t want to return to Bangladesh,” Qadir said.
We continued on Sheikh Zayed Road as Qadir thought I should see the famous Burj Al Arab building in the night. A unique piece of architecture, this sail- shaped hotel is the third tallest building in the world. While Burj Khalifa has stolen the limelight off this iconic beach tower, it still remains synonymous with Dubai and features prominently on memorabilia, souvenirs and even government publicity material. We took a quick stroll around the hotel and Qadir even clicked a ‘cliched’ photograph of mine appearing to hold the hotel by its tip. A deep breath and a valuable realisation of the feeling that I was standing next to a building I only, so far saw in photographs, was my way to absorb the moment.
“This is Palm Jumeirah, one of the most expensive properties in Dubai,” Qadir told me as our car zoomed on the empty streets. Atlantis, Palm Jebel Ali — I was busy identifying the landmarks on my mobile when Qadir said he wanted to take me to a place close to his heart. Delighted, I told him to proceed. About 15 minutes later, long walls guarding the luxurious properties of millionaire Sheikhs were left behind and I was standing at a quiet corner near Skydive Dubai. Despite super cool yachts parked along the bay on one side and the glass towers on the other, this one small piece of land was an isolated island none seemed to find significant.
For the first time in the heart of this bustling metropolis I was standing at a place that was far from noise, yet a part of the modern concrete jungle surrounding it. “I like to come here and spend time looking at that tower,” Qadir said as he pointed towards a tower that appeared twisted. “This is the Cayan Tower. It twists,” Qadir said adding, “Like life.” “Wow! You are a philosopher Qadir, or is it the place?” I said putting the blame on the location.
When Qadir dropped me back to the hotel, it was 4 am. I had another day and another meeting. But in between, a more important and memorable meal at the Ravi Restaurant and then a flight back to Delhi from Sharjah! Goodbye Dubai I said.
I am putting some helpful info on Burj Khalifa for quick reference, though a more detailed guide to the building, one of the most prominent Dubai attractions, is available on its website: www.burjkhalifa.ae
Average Visit Time
The average time it takes to enjoy At the Top is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes however you are welcome to take your time. Please note that the average visit time may extend accordingly during peak seasons and sunset times. Guests of At the Top, Burj Khalifa SKY can stay at level 148 for up to 30 minutes to continue the journey to level 125, where they can stay as long as they prefer.
For visitors to level 124 who wish to view the sunset, we would recommend booking an entry time approximately 90 minutes prior.
Burj Khalifa is located near the 1st interchange along Sheikh Zayed Road. Take the 1st interchange and proceed through Financial Centre Road (formerly Doha Street). The approach road to The Dubai Mall will be on the right-hand side.
From Abu Dhabi
Take the exit to Financial Centre Road (Doha) from 1st interchange. The approach road to The Dubai Mall will be on the right-hand side.
Dubai Metro – Red Line
Burj Khalifa can be reached via metro at Burj Khalifa Metro Station. View a Dubai Metro Stations Map.
Dedicated photo kiosks allow our visitors to capture their memorable moments at At the Top, Burj Khalifa in a unique style. Using the green screen technology, our team of photographers create beautiful backdrops illustrating the Burj Khalifa external facade or striking views of the city. The photo kiosks also offer printing of pictures on a range of merchandise making an ideal At the Top, Burj Khalifa memorabilia.
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