On Top of the World

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Officially built with 163 floors, the Burj Khalifa is currently still the tallest skyscraper on the planet. Imagine my sheer excitement the day I finally met her face to face.

Residing on an Architectural Paradise

I used to live and work in Dubai, one of the best if not the most progressive metropolis in the United Arab Emirates. In all my years in this Middle Eastern location, I barely spared the chance to explore its popular attractions due to my busy worklife. That included missing out on the internationally acclaimed architecture the city is recognized for.

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However, that hectic routine changed after a couple of years there. "This rich nation's treasures must be discovered, so my stay here would be worthwhile. Great opportunities don't present themselves often. If not today, then when?" I pondered deeply.

And so began my relentless pursuit of that nation's marvelous landmarks, particularly the iconic sites, environments, and buildings that have adorned its majestic urban skyline.

In Time for a Birthday Celebration

Of course, why ignore Burj Khalifa, a global titleholder of being the world's highest tower? This colossal behemoth of architecture used to be called Burj Dubai but was later renamed in honor of the UAE's supreme ruler and president, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan who rescued the city's ailing economy from suffering further financial turmoil.

Out of pure coincidence, my French associate and dear friend also informed me beforehand that she was visiting Dubai for business, and planned to spend her natal day there. "Hmm, let me see. Should I surprise her with an unexpected visit to the Burj Khalifa? Wouldn't it be a glorious way to commemorate her birthday?" These were my humble plans.

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That moment finally arrived. We traveled together to many fascinating places around Dubai, yet the Burj Khalifa was the grand finale and core highlight of our tour. You should have witnessed the massive smile on her face the instant we arrived at our prestigious destination!

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Our restless feet were itching as we entered Dubai Mall and then towards the welcome lobby of the skyscraper's elevator system - ascending to its observation deck called "At The Top" that was situated at the 124th level. You see, it was the world's highest viewing terrace during that time! And it was simply a rare privilege that couldn't be taken for granted.

Meeting Burj Khalifa in the Flesh

While waiting for our turn in going up, we were entertained by a smorgasbord of interesting information about the iconic landmark. From historical facts, technical background about its architecture and design to other eye-opening trivia, it was a mini museum that offered us a delicious appetizer on what to expect.

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But it was nothing compared to what we were about to experience next.

How does it feel to be transported inside an elevator that shoots rapidly with a vertical speed of a staggering 10 meters per second? If you do the math, it took us approximately 60 seconds (1 minute) to reach the sightseeing platform on the 124th floor with an elevation of 452 meters from the ground level. Unbelievable! Isn't that mind-boggling or what?

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If you're terrified of heights, this type of adventure is obviously not meant for the faint of heart. Since both of us were curious and daring explorers, we took the challenge without hesitation. From that heavenly perspective, we were visually flooded with mesmerizing panoramas of Dubai's urban landscape. You can even see the rooftop of Dubai Mall and the busy traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road from that point. Oh wow, the views merely took our breath away!

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Are you planning to visit Burj Khalifa in the future? If so, I suggest you schedule it during the evening. I'm not saying that experiences during the day aren't satisfying but personally, sightseeing at night seems to be more romantic due to the chilling atmosphere plus interplay of vibrant city lights. The weather would also be more pleasant due to the prevailing cool breeze, contrary to the scorching heat during the earlier hours. It's your choice.

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We spent a considerable amount of time there, maximizing the sensual pleasures derived from the spellbinding sights that surrounded us 360 degrees from where we stood. Like little children, we were jumping for joy as the world became our playground. While conversing with each other, we pointed and glimpsed at famous landmarks that were only previously encountered by foot but were now approached from a bird's eye advantage.

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"A glorious birthday indeed, right?" I asked my pretty date. "Yes, of course Erne! Thank you for spending time with me. This is definitely one for the record - an extraordinary milestone that I'll remember for the rest of my life!" She responded back with a big smile.

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Aside from the viewing extravaganza, we had spare time to shop as there were souvenir kiosks in strategic areas both at the observation deck and the welcome lobby below. Well, we also made sure that while we were there, our cameras were loaded with numerous photos to bring home. You wouldn't want to skip this incredible opportunity to immortalize the experiences, would you?

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Plenty of wonderful memories to be cherished! What an ecstatic evening it was!

Culminating with an Entertaining Spectacle

Our exit after that fantastic experience from the sky was back to the ground levels of Dubai Mall. But, was our tour of Burj Khalifa over? No, not yet! There was still one more sought-after attraction that we didn't expect to catch there.

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As we went outside to the exterior spaces of the shopping center, we were surprised to encounter crowds of people congregating alongside the artificial lake of the commercial and residential complex.

"What's the commotion about?" I asked one of the female bystanders. "The Dubai Fountain is about to perform any second now!" The lady answered.

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OMG! We were absolutely speechless when the majestic jets of this popular water feature began serenading us with Arabic and international musical scores! Never have we seen so much grace, coordination, and beauty in its magnetic presentation. Here are some quick movies of that night's astonishing dance of the Dubai Fountain. Are you amazed?

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KHALIFA 30.jpgThe Address Hotel beside the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE

If you noticed in the photos, people were not wearing face masks and shields. That's because my narrated events happened before the pandemic of 2020. Therefore, we were quite fortunate to have experienced the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, and the Dubai Fountain at a time when public gatherings were still not worldwide hazards.

Sentimental Experience of a Lifetime

The expression "On Top of the World" could be interpreted in 2 versions. First, my extraordinary encounters with Burj Khalifa, being able to stand on the world's highest floor and be up high on the clouds - literally.

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Second, as an idiomatic expression, it signifies the peak of human happiness. And because words are not enough to describe my feelings during that occasion, let's just say it was one of my life-changing moments. Plus, as a bonus, I got to share this unforgettable experience with someone special!

What are your thoughts about the Burj Khalifa? Do you find its architecture and design appealing? Would you venture to the top of that skyscraper and dare the high altitude?

#Hive, have you been here?

References and Notes
All technical data were obtained at the site of the Burj Khalifa.
All photographs and GIFs in this post are the author's digital properties.




Meet the Author

ERNE, also known as STORIES OF ERNE™ (@storiesoferne), is an Architect, Environmentalist, Lifehacker, and Adventurer. On the Hive Blockchain, he is the Creator of the Architecture+Design Community. If you share similar interests and are passionate about the built environment, natural habitat, existential problems plus their solutions, and international travel, feel free to connect with him. He will be more than happy to welcome you into his world. Have fun!

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