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.