At The Top, Burj Khalifa

We’ve been saving At The Top for the day when we eventually leave the U.A.E. for good. Since we live just an hour away, the building visible from my bedroom window, we were in no rush to see the view of Dubai from the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa. But when my sisters planned on going to the top, Masood and I decide to join them. And I’m so glad we did because I feel that the experience wouldn’t have been as fun had Masood and I ventured alone.

Tickets are booked online a couple of weeks before the visit date. It costs AED 105 (USD 28) as opposed to when one buys a ticket at the entrance (no need to book in advance or fall in the queue, which means one gets entry right then and there) for AED400 (USD108) per person. Please book in advance; the experience is not worth AED400. So we book seven tickets for the 1800 hrs time slot (sunset is at 1820 hrs).

Obviously we’re late. Certain ladies who actually live a few blocks away are the cause of the delay, and one of them didn’t show up (but joined us later for dinner). We leave our cars at the Dubai Mall Level 1 parking area (do not drive directly to the Burj Khalifa). It’s a Friday and the parking is full! The ticket counter and entrance to the Burj Khalifa is right across the food court.

So we get in and line up for security check that makes us feel like we’re entering the airport. Immediately after the security is a blue curtain. “Are you husband and wife?” asks a staff as if it is the most natural question in the world. “Um, yeah?” we reply. “OK, stand here,” the staff instructs. With the blue curtain behind us, we stand and stare at the camera, as another staff takes our picture. A slip of paper with some number written on it is handed to us, and we’re asked to move to make way for the next group of people. “Don’t forget to check your pictures after the tour!” the staff reminds us. This entire episode takes place in one minute. I am still wondering what exactly has happened.

The walk leading up to the Burj Khalifa is an amazing experience. There’s this dark hallway with moving images that depict Dubai’s transformation from past to present. This reminds me of Harry Potter paintings that move.

There are only two elevators so we fall in line again, waiting for our turn. We get excited at this point. In fact, I think I am more thrilled with the elevator ride to the 124th floor than the actual view from the top!

Behold a couple of blurry pictures of the elevator (but they are an important part of this documentation so I didn’t delete them) …

The elevator ride is exciting! I think a dozen or so people are packed (albeit comfortably) in the elevator. Lights are off save for the few blinking ones, sort of arrows that move in an upward direction. Ears pop. Everyone’s eyes are focused attentively on the number panel that’s changing in a speed so fast, with the music tempo increasing per second, that within a minute we read “124” on the display. The music comes to a dramatic stop. The doors open. “Welcome At The Top”, the staff greets us.

At The Top is the world’s highest open/outdoor observatory deck. The building has several other tallest and highest records up its sleeves which you can read about here. My first reaction is, this looks just like the view from an aircraft window. Except that it doesn’t go away in a few minutes. The observatory is outdoor, which basically means you look up and see the sky and the remaining 30+ storeys that the general public has no access to.

The view from the top is good during the day, but we specifically choose to visit in the evening because the city is simply spectacular at night. In the picture below, the tall building is the famous The Address Hotel. The structure on the lower left of the picture is Dubai Mall.

Although there is a specific time to enter the observatory deck, there is absolutely no rush to return back to ground level. We can stay At The Top for as long as our hearts desired. This make me realize why the management has prohibited visitors from bringing food and drinks with them: everyone might just as well bring mats, a basket of kebabs and sandwiches, and have a picnic with the entire family.

Not having food and drinks would mean that one simply enjoys the view, captures some photographs, then leave. Having food at one’s disposal means one would want to stay longer, perhaps even overnight.

Yep, that’s another blurry shot of the Dubai dancing fountain from the top, another reason why we choose to visit at night. The first show begins at 6 PM. It’s much more fun to watch the show at ground level, but this is a different perspective.

The elevator ride back to the base isn’t as thrilling. But the walk towards the exit is like walking through a mini museum that’s filled with information regarding the Burj Khalifa. One particular display that I like is the picture of a group of people who contributed to the building of this world’s tallest structure. The picture shows everyone involved, from the CEO to the cleaner.

Just before the exit is a display of photographs that have been taken earlier from the trip. Remember that blue curtain I told you about? Yeah, those pictures. I look at our picture. We look good but then we are hideously photoshopped to appear standing in front of the Burj Khalifa. And this offensive picture costs AED 200 (USD 54)!

Some people buy these pictures though.

Then there’s the mandatory souvenir shop right at the exit where the price of every item on display is at the top. My advice to you is to buy these gifts from elsewhere (you can find Burj Khalifa key chains, Burj Khalifa notebooks and pens, mini Burj Khalifa models, etc. in shops scattered all over the city).

My family and I have a great time. Like I said it wouldn’t have been as much fun had it been just Masood and myself. We laugh so much, take seven hundred pictures (six hundred and ninety of which turned out blurry), and have an amazing dinner after wards.

If you’re in Dubai, don’t miss going At The Top.

36 comments

  1. That must be so exciting! I don’t really like going to the top because of my fear of heights.Ears always end up in trouble.lol. Really beautiful pics,Nadia! And it’s always fun and safe to go in groups.And I love to laugh too!

  2. 124 floor high! Must be a breathtaking experience, but I’ll probably get that pins and needle feeling on my feet at that height lolz!
    I think you have inspired me to visit the 57 storey high Sky Park in Sg! 😀

    1. Oh, it was a great experience, Nisa! I got the pins and needles feeling at one point when I pressed myself really close to the glass and looked down.

      You haven’t been to the Sky Park yet? You should and then blog about it 🙂

  3. Masya-Allah! I like everything that you wrote on your Burj Khalifa adventure. Everything, except this line… “leave the UAE for good” Owh… so soon? Then I suppose my dream of going there and meet you in person will not come true? Please tell me it is not going to happen in the near future. I really am looking forward to be there 🙁
    Atie recently posted..Like the deserts miss the rain…

    1. Thank you, Atie! No, we’re not planning on leaving anytime soon, although Ar-Rahman knows best. Nevertheless, hurry up with your plan to visit us – as soon as your thesis is finished, of course 🙂

  4. Nadia, these Top buildings and sky rides are really way amazing! I went to Istanbul Sapphire when I was in Turkey. It had the almost same features. Although I went in the afternoon, tragedy, as the night view is really something. But anyways, It was a great experience.
    Your first and especially 7th picture is a total beauty. (wiping off a tear of joy) 😛
    Khanum recently posted..Table for 2 . Very Traditional

    1. Thank you so much, Pervisha. Some people do enjoy the view during broad daylight, but there’s nothing much the desert offers so night is much better when all the lights are on.

      Where’s the rest of the pictures from your Turkey trip? Show us the Sapphire Tower, please. I’m trying to convince the husband that we must go visit Turkey soon.

      1. I have a bundle of them. Maybe that’s why it seems such a burden to me. I am having a writer’s blog on the Turkey tip thing. I have been asked to blog about it so many times now that I feel i should really hang my head in shame and some more shame …:(

        Insha Allah, I must do it now!
        Khanum recently posted..Table for 2 . Very Traditional

          1. I understand. You’re excited. It’s not you..it’s me. lol. Im finding it so tiring to blog about it now mainly because just in 6 days I visited so many places. And merely a blog can’t do justice t the travel I had. But U’re right. Its about time I get myself to write about it.
            Khanum recently posted..Table for 2 . Very Traditional

    1. Hello, Sajib. You’re way too young to be thinking in a negative manner! Always dream and aim high. You are a very hardworking person and you will get places, inshaAllah.

    1. Specs! How wonderful to finally see you around here! Don’t look at the pictures; visit the real thing – you won’t feel dizzy.

      Yeah, regarding the prices…I suppose they want to break the world records for that too?

  5. hello, nadia! maganda ang kwento pero mas natandaan ko ang mga hirit, lols!

    the pics are spectacular as usual. 🙂

    thanks for giving us a first-hand account of the place and the experience. ginagawa pa lang ang burj khalifa, ipinapakita na ng pamangkin ko sa amin (who was then an archi student pa lang) ang building plan etc and how it’s going to break thru records daw. ayon…

    ang kulit ng pasyal nyo, ahaha! kumusta na kayo? 🙂
    doon po sa amin recently posted..Nagsasawa

    1. Thank you so much, San! We’re doing great, just waiting for the temperature to come down to comfortable levels. October should herald the beginnings of decreasing temperatures here in the desert. Kayo, kumusta? There’s a lineup of typhoon that’s expected to hit the country. Stay safe.

      It’s nice to learn that the archi students are up-to-date 🙂

  6. hello, again. oo, bagyung-bagyo rito, nadia, as in… mukha kaming mga nasalanta, hehe. but not as bad as ondoy. not just yet. nothing like that again, i hope…

    updated naman ang students dito pagdating sa ganyan, courtesy of their professors, hehe. tsaka, maraming eng’g and archi students who are dreaming of working at UAE yata…

    btw, kindly edit my third sentence in the 3rd paragraph of my previous comment. pasensya na, baka kasi masakit sa mata ng bumabasa. salamat… 🙂
    doon po sa amin recently posted..Nagsasawa

    1. Naku, sana nga at ‘wag ng maulit. I’ve lived through a few typhoons in the Philippines, and they’re nasty!

      I don’t blame the Pinoy eng’g and archi students; UAE is like a wonderland for them, a place where they can come up with any crazy design and the gov’t will sign an approval 😀

  7. Nice article and exactly the way I remember it … except that we reached the 124 floor at around 530 pm and I had almost over 40 min to capture the sunlight in my camera and then gradually the sunset and lights that come up!
    And yes you were right about the ugly pic that they show just before you exit… I had taken better pics myself than the lousy background they photoshop 🙂

    1. Thank you, Shahan! We had about 5 minutes of sunlight 😀

      I believe you – you take way better photographs than the Burj Khalifa guys (that too without the photoshop effects).

    1. Thank you, Mezba! I thought about you and your wife while we were At The Top, and then I remembered your corrupted memory card and lost pictures. I know how painful that is 🙁

  8. thx.for such a wonderful pictures and article.Me and my wife visiting Dubai next month and will surely goes to At The top.But can you pl.tell me how long time is sufficient to see everything?Out ticket is at 9.30 am.and plan to go desert safari at evening.So we need to go back to our hotel by 3 p.m.Thx.in advance.

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