Thousands of people gathered at the Burj area promenades to watch the opening of the tallest tower yesterday. The event coincided with the celebration of the fourth anniversary of the Accession of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, as Ruler of Dubai. Image Credit: Francoise Nel/Gulf News

Dubai: In the minutes leading up to the opening you could hardly see it.

Burj Khalifa was shrouded in darkness with only the lights below illuminating its base.

Thousands of people gathered below in eager anticipation for they knew it wasn't going to stay shrouded in darkness much longer; they were about to witness a slice of history.

They were not to be disappointed. Just after 8pm the world's tallest building came to life with a spectacular array of fireworks as Dubai's latest icon announced its arrival on the world stage.

Restaurants and cafes on Dubai Mall's Waterfront Promenade and at the adjoining Souq Al Bahar were packed from 3pm onwards.

By around 7pm Downtown Burj Khalifa had never seen a crowd like it. The entire area was saturated with people jostling for the best view of the fireworks.

Thousands more gathered at vantage points across Dubai including Festival City, Safa Park and Al Quoz.

A host of ‘Burj Khalifa parties' also took place at the apartments of those lucky enough to have balconies offering superb views of the opening.

Tom Arnold, originally from the United States, threw a party in his Downtown Burj Khalifa apartment. He said: "The Burj Khalifa is not only a feat of modern engineering, it is also a symbol of mankind's relentless pursuit of innovative achievements.

The event I am hosted included guests from around the world who defy the destructive myths of this region and live together in one of the most peaceful cities around the world. This is truly a global city, and a universally appealing experience to witness and share together.

"As expats living in Dubai, we have come to consider this place our home, and we are proud of the city and what has been accomplished here in recent years. We are here working, not as individuals, but as part of a collective higher purpose.

"Today is a proud day for Dubai and my friends and I appreciate the magnitude of this historic achievement."

Back on ground level there was hardly space to move as parents with children in strollers, elderly Emiratis and young professionals from all over the globe tried to find the perfect spot to view the opening ceremony. Traffic snarled on all approach roads to Downtown Burj Khalifa as it seemed the whole city wanted a slice of the action.

Natika Lewis, a 27-year-old teacher from Wales, said: "Everyone here is very positive; it's a really cool atmosphere. It's the tallest building in the world; I just had to come and see it open, plus I really love fireworks!"

Hussain Hoghnieh, a 27-year-old sales manager from Lebanon, said: "I've lived here for three years and I've seen Burj Khalifa grow so much in that time. I just had to be here for the opening, I would not have missed it for the world."