Dubai: The humble elevator was the star of the show yesterday as Burj Khalifa opened to the public.
Many visitors to Dubai's newest attraction described their journey to the top of the building as the highlight of their experience, which is quite a grandiose claim considering the 360 degree sweeping views available from the observation deck.
But the Burj Khalifa does not have any old elevators.
It has elevators that climb 124 floors at 10 metres per second with built-in light and entertainment features including LCD displays.
The sound of dramatic music — only punctured by the occasional ear pop — builds to a crescendo just as the lift doors open at the top to reveal incredible views of the city.
The faces of those coming out the elevator said more than a thousand words. Jaws wide open, disbelieving eyes and cameras flashing wildly; this was an experience that nobody was going to forget quickly.
Alexandros Karakitsos, 33, and Louisa Bouta, 29, from Greece took time out from their holiday to become among the first visitors to the Burj Khalifa.
Louisa said: "It is a very impressive view and I can not believe how far you can see in every direction. The elevator is very quick and you get the same feeling as you do when you're on a plane in that your ears pop because of the pressure.
"It's also very windy up here and I get the impression that the tower is moving! I think it will be the tallest building for many years."
Massive queues formed outside ‘At the Top' — the formal name given to the Burj Khalifa experience — inside Dubai Mall on Monday afternoon. It did not take long for the observation deck to reach full capacity. Tickets costing Dh100 were being sold for allocated time slots over the next few days.
Visitors to the attraction initially enter an education centre, which provides statistics and facts about the construction of the world's tallest building. Homage is also paid to the thousands of workers — mainly from the subcontinent — who spent years constructing the iconic landmark.
Touch screen technology allows people to see how the Burj Khalifa would alter the skylines of cities around the world including New York, Cairo, London, Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro. You can also compare the Burj to the world's other tallest buildings.
Top Sami Anis, a 32-year-old IT manager from Jordan, said: "It is absolutely amazing; you really feel like you are on top of the world. I did not know what to expect but it is a very nice feeling.
"The building is a great achievement. I read the information about the workers who constructed it on the way up and it is very impressive. The sunset over Burj Al Arab is definitely my favourite view."
The At the Top merchandise store also enjoyed brisk trading with many people eager to grab a souvenir of their experience.
Ifham Khalid, a 22-year-old student from India, said: "It is just crazy; I have never seen anything as great as this. I didn't even feel the elevator moving on the way up and then the doors just opened ... I will definitely be back again..."
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