For somebody so terrified of heights? I have the strangest urge to climb mountains and sky-scrapers. Even if I do tend to lose dignity and consciousness through utter fear before I’m anywhere near the top.
I’ve put myself through the ordeal of The CN Tower, The Empire State Building, The Willis (once Sears) Tower, The Stratosphere… but I can never quite get enough of the terrifying joy that scaring-myself-silly brings: So I knew The Burj Khalifa was going to be a painful treat.
And it was. For all these reasons:
Your ears will pop four times as the elevator thrusts you 898 metres into the air in less than a minute. The realisation that you are nearly a kilometre from the ground will force you to cling to the sides of the building when you get there, and wonder why on earth anyone would want to build that high.
But then you see the view: You see the Persian Gulf sparkling half-a-mile below… You see the Lilliputians, scrambling like ants on the faraway floor; the massive sky-scrapers suddenly so minuscule and unimposing. You see IRAN (on a clear day) – without paying the $900 visa fee they usually expect for you to feast on their shores. And suddenly you understand.
Supposedly? The sun sets on the ground THREE MINUTES before it sets on the top… So you can race the sun up in the elevator, and win… Screw you big-burning-stars! The Khalifa is currently 200 metres more spectacular than its nearest rival: The Shanghai Tower (at its measly 632 metres) – and will remain the pinnacle of elevation until Saudi Arabia snatches the title with its own impending Ode To Loftiness... which is aiming to be an entire MILE in height.
But even if you don’t desire braving the altitude (or want to pay for tickets) The World’s Current Tallest Structure is pretty impressive from the ground too: MASSIVE. An absolute tautology… It hurt my eyes to look at something so huge. It’s the kind of colossal that takes your senses at least ten minutes to establish what it is you’re gawping at. You won’t be able to fit the whole thing in a picture; It glimmers like it’s plated with Platinum – in true Emirati style, it probably is? It burns your retinas with self-importance and sun-glare.
The fountains at the foot of the megalith are also a feat of fun-engineering. Every half hour (after 6pm) they put on an aquatic display to rival the wrath of Triton.
The Emirates are obsessed with superlatives: Biggest, Expensivest, Shiniest, Tallest… Of course they’d have the wettest fountains too. They throw water 150 metres into the air – choreographed to the warblings of Enrique Iglesias (of all things?!) – and are definitely worth a watch… But they draw crowds like Tudor executions did – thousands of randoms baying for spectacle, so I’d recommend booking a table at Abd el Wahab – a Lebanese restaurant overlooking the bi-hourly event, where you can stuff your face with lambs and wine while enjoying the view without the hassle of an old Indian lady’s elbow in your face.