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Sound, water and light tell the story of Burj Khalifa

ireworks illuminate entire downtown area

Image Credit: Hadrian Hernandez/Gulf News
Fireworks light up the Burj Khalifa.
Gulf News

Dubai: On Monday night, Dubai's new baby was delivered in a stunning blaze of fireworks, fountains and fluorescent light.

The night began as thousands of residents and visitors gazed up at the tower, which had been shrouded in darkness earlier in the evening, seven parachutists glided silently down from the top, drawing gasps and applause from the crowds.

A short Arabic-language film was then screened, highlighting the numerous engineering achievements in Dubai, from the ports to The Palm and The World, before presenting an in depth look at the construction genius that is Burj Khalifa — 12,000 workers daily, 57 elevators and above it all, the vision of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who earlier had renamed the building Burj Khalifa before lights and fireworks exploded around it in an awe-inspiring display, and the Dubai Fountains in front of the tower danced in synchronisation.

Big screens

To the delight of the crowds, the big screens whizzed through the numbers while the audience waited with bated breath to see at what height the tower topped out. Whistles and screams were the sound track to the final figure: 828 metres.

A thunderous video, sound, water and light show then showed the evolution of the Burj from simple inspiration — the desert flower hymenocallis — to engineering marvel. Dozens of white lights streamed out from the tower as the spire glittered, before the big event: 10,000 white fireworks running up, down and around the structure, shooting off the building from every level, making the show the tallest display ever.

The blinding show lasted around five minutes, ending with a spectacular burst of pyrotechnics from the top of the spire — the world's highest display of fireworks before a final fountain show featuring a new song, Inshed An Aldar a poem set to music, and composed specially for the event.

Pierre Marcout, CEO of Prisme International, the company behind the astounding show, told Gulf News ahead of the event that he had aimed for an "elegant" display that would showcase the building's stature.

"I've been thinking about this for three years," he said, recalling how he watched the building grow with a possible show in mind. But the world's tallest tower presented some unique challenges. "It's totally different from anything we've done before because it's vertical. And the lights had to be on the same scale as the tower."

To that end, he decided to have 320 "space cannons" installed around the building. The ultra powerful light projectors — the largest number ever installed for a single event — were at the centre of a light show depicting the genesis of the 800-metre-plus tower, illuminating the Burj Khalifa with 72,000 watts of power.

"It's not just a show. We are telling a story. The Burj Khalifa started in the desert, so that's where we will start," said Marcout. "The challenge was to use the right technology and also to be able to command all that technology."

The three-part show brought together the lights, music and the Dubai Fountains to tell the story of the tower's development, from unfurling of the desert flower — the hymenocallis — that served as inspiration, to the monumental work and ingenuity that went into realising the project, and finally the presentation of the building to the world. The three segments were titled the Desert Flower to Burj Khalifa, Heart Beat and From Dubai to the World.

The night ended with 10,000 white fireworks which illuminated the Downtown Burj Khalifa area. The fireworks were affixed to the Burj in the days running up to the event.

Highest fireworks

"These are the highest fireworks in the world," said Marcout. "That was the challenge. The first issue was security because we don't want any damage.

"We knew absolutely what effects we want and we did tests beforehand."

The 250-strong team from Prisme started work on the show only two months ago, once they received the go-ahead on the date. "We had to work in a short time, but that's the way it is in Dubai — decisions get made quickly." But he couldn't disguise his delight at being the man behind an event watch by millions.

"I'm very proud to do this - for me it's the most beautiful building, and it's for Dubai."

Fountain unveiled

The Dubai Fountain and six other water features at Tower Park at the Burj Khalifa were unveiled yesterday to mark the official opening of the tower.

"We've unleashed the kinetic energy of this element to bring people of all ages and all backgrounds together to relish in the stunning fountain performances," says Mark Fuller, CEO of the fountain's creator WET, a Los Angeles-based company specialising in water feature design.

Situated prominently in front of the world's tallest manmade structure, Khalifa Tower, the Dubai Fountain is a 32-acre lake and is, by any measure, the largest choreographed fountain in the world. Five rings of high-powered water jets span the length of the lake ensuring that every vantage point around the perimeter is an exceptional one.

Creating a display of synchronized lights, music and water, leaping over 140 metres into the air, WET utilised patented pumps as well robotic water jets. Inventive use of projected light allows the fountain to paint with light on its darting water forms.

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