It was only afternoon in Dubai, but it was already getting difficult to hail a taxi and the traffic was at a standstill. When I finally reached Downtown Burj to witness the inauguration of the Burj Dubai, the tallest tower in the world, there were thousands of people eagerly waiting for the 8pm celebration to commence. The excitement was mounting as everyone looked up at the mammoth megalith rising above them.
Boasting 169 floors and reaching so high that the temperature on the top floor is 10°C cooler than the temperature on the bottom floor, this structure is an awe-inspiring global icon. I found myself standing by the bridge in front of the tower, with Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world, on my right. Burj Dubai is the epicenter of the new Downtown Burj Dubai, comprised of The Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountain, hotels, and residential and commercial areas.
The first sign of the spectacle to come was several parachutists flying down from the towering structure, but the actual launch began with a mesmerizing fountain display right in front of the Burj Dubai, water shooting high in the air and dancing elegantly to operatic music. Soon, the tower was fully illuminated with fireworks running along its entire length from its base right to the top, flying outwards from every part of its 828 meter (2,700-foot) mass. The Burj looked ablaze and quickly, there was a thick veil of smoke surrounding it as the fireworks ended. The effect was simply astounding.
Yet another surprise awaited: The renaming of the Burj Dubai to Burj Khalifa, in honour of Dubai’s financial rescuer, the ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan. This certainly revealed the reality of Dubai’s current situation, and while this seemed to be a slight humiliation, it also showed a glimmer of Dubai’s humility.
In keeping with Dubai’s long list of superlatives, The Burj will have the world’s first Armani hotel, setting new standards in haute hospitality and luxury; the world’s highest swimming pool on the 76th floor; the highest observation deck on the 124th floor; and the highest mosque on the 158th floor.
If you missed out on the spectacle of the grand opening, you can still make your way to At The Top, and be rewarded with epic vistas of Dubai where you can actually discern the curvature of the Earth. Zoom up in the express elevators racing up at 10-meters per second and be stunned by views reaching 60 miles, finally returning back to terra firma where mere mortals tread. (Open from 10am to 10pm on weekdays and until midnight on weekends, tickets are from Dhs100 for an adult and Dhs75 for a child).