Dubai: The Burj Khalifa is not only the tallest man-made structure ever built, it is also — compared to other super high-rises worldwide — a true multi-purpose building.
While other comparable skyscrapers like the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the Taipei 101 or the Willis Tower in Chicago (formerly Sears Tower) are mainly used for offices or business purposes, the Burj Dubai has it all: It comprises a hotel, residential apartments, offices as well as public facilities.
The main attraction is undoubtedly the Observation Deck called "At The Top" on the 124th floor, at a height of 442 metres above ground, which offers an indoor panorama floor with special telescopes as well as an outdoor area for the real experience.
The deck can be reached by double-decker elevators, which carry 21 persons at each deck and travel at ear-popping speed of 10 metres per second, making them some of the fastest elevators ever built.
The Observation Deck is situated way above the last residential floors, which end at the 108th storey. Above the deck, the tower continues with offices up to the 154th floor.
The observatory is expected to be the highlight of any visit to the Middle East. The trip to the sky begins at the lower ground level of the Dubai Mall, where visitors are put in the right mood by a multimedia presentation before they enter the elevator lobby at the concourse of the Burj Khalifa.
At the deck, there will be a boutique, where merchandise items and souvenirs can be purchased.
Thomas Dempsey, General Manager, Burj Khalifa, says "At The Top will be a never-before experience for visitors. The entire journey — starting from the welcome lobby at The Dubai Mall through a 65-metre travelator to the vertical travel in a double-deck elevator to finally watching the world uninterrupted from Level 124 — is educational, inspirational, compelling and thoroughly fulfilling."
The Observation Deck will be the highest level that public visitors can reach in the tower. There are also a number of sky lobbies at the upper part of the building, notably at the 123th floor below the deck, as well as on the 76th and 43th floor, which are meant for residents and office workers, but can also be used by guests as a meet-and-greet venue. The sky lobbies include fitness facilities, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, jacuzzis and a recreation room for gatherings and events.
Floor 122 is the home to at.mosphere, a fine dining restaurant which is supposed to be the highest restaurant in the world.
The Club is a four-storey health and recreation annex to Burj Khalifa. Priority is given to tower residents, but it is also open to the public. The facilities include two indoor and outdoor pools, two gymnasiums with a dedicated ladies-only gym and a spa facility.
At the concourse level of the tower, there are shopping facilities as well as a restaurant. Storeys one to three are occupied by the Armani hotel lobbies and restaurants. Altogether, the Armani hotel, whose guest rooms range from floor 5 to 39, is home to eight restaurants, an upscale lounge and several brand stores.
Visitors to the Burj Khalifa will also be welcomed by more than 1,000 specially commissioned pieces of art that are spread across the interiors of the tower. In the residential lobby, the "World Voices" collection by artist Jaume Plensa can be viewed.
Other art pieces from prominent Middle East and international artists are supposed to give visitors the experience of an artistic tribute to the spirit of global harmony.
George Efstathiou, Managing Partner for the tower's architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill leading the Burj Khalifa team said: "The 1,000 art pieces will include a wide range of contemporary artists as well as museum-standard historic art recognising the Gulf's unique heritage."
Outside the Burj Khalifa, eleven hectares of park await public visitors. The landscape includes greenery, outdoor spaces, dining, leisure and playing areas as well as the Dubai Fountain and other themed water experiences.
At the grand terrace visitors can rick their necks to look up the 800+ metres structure, and the water terraces are composed of several levels that are stepping down towards the surrounding lake's edge.
Located at the 124th floor at 442 metres height
Access by high-speed double decker elevators riding at 10 metres per seconds
Indoor lobby and outdoor terrace with telescopes
Access Sun-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Sat 10am-12pm
Ticket price Dh100 for adults, Dh75 for kids under 12, Dh210 for ‘urgent access'