Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Bellagio Fountains, Observatory, UAE

Burj Khalifa – the Steel Gargantuan in the Middle of the Desert

You thought you had been prepared by having seen countless videos and photos, but Burj Khalifa flabbergasts with its staggering 828 metres – challenging to describe if you have not been near its entrance. Truly an incredible feat of engineering, it is regarded as the Vertical City.

How to Get Reach Burj Khalifa and Go Atop

Probably the easiest way to visit this steel gargantuan is by taking the metro and getting off at “Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall” metro station. The station is adjacent to the Dubai Mall and after a 10-minute walk (in a specially designed and air-conditioned pathway) you will get inside the mall and then to Burj Khalifa.

Of course, riding a cab is always a viable option and they are not too expensive, but riding the driverless metro is a great experience especially if you are in front of the train (for that you have to buy a VIP ticket which is 14 AED).

Dubai Metro Burj Khalifa Front Row Seat, UAE
Just got in the metro. Since it is driverless, you can take your seat in the front after purchasing a VIP ticket.
Dubai Metro approaching Burj Khalifa UAE
Slowly approaching the Burj.
Dubai, Approaching Burj Khalifa from Dubai Mall Pathway, UAE
In the pathway between the metro station and Dubai Mall.

There are other options to get to Burj Khalifa such as hiring a limo, helicopter ride or even skydiving – if you have the courage or the pecuniary means, be their guest, he-he!

History about its Construction

Burj Khalifa’s inception was back in 2004. To construct the building, around 1,200 workers (mainly from South and East Asia) from different nationalities were needed for more than 6 years. The chief architects of the building were the ones who also designed the One World Trade Center (also known as the Freedom Tower) and the Willis Tower.

Next to the indefatigable efforts of throngs of peoples in regards to its construction and design, another feat worth mentioning was the communication carried out between various locations across the globe. The architects were based in Chicago, the designers – in London, while the main contractor – Samsung – was from South Korea, to name a few.

Burj Khalifa was planned to slightly surpass Taipei 101‘s height, but until the last moment, its real size was not announced. The building’s structural system has a buttressed core and in order to endure the sizzling temperatures of Dubai in summer (which can go as high as 45-50 C or 113-122 F) it has a specially designed cladding system. However, what enthralled me most was that the pin of the spire of Burj Khalifa can be seen from 95 km!

The Highest Open-air Observation Deck in the World

The building houses more than 30,000 homes, 9 different hotels (including Armani) and a couple of observation decks. I visited the one which is located between levels 124 and 125. It holds the record of the world’s highest open-air observation deck. Here is what I saw and captured with my camera and my phone.

Dubai, Burj Khalifa, View 1, First Glances, UAE
First glances from the observatory (level 125).
Dubai, Burj Khalifa, the World Islands, Archipelago, UAE
The World Islands (artificial archipelago) in the Persian Gulf – in the distance.
Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Some Fountains, UAE
Some fountains – as seen from the observatory.
Dubai, Burj Khalifa, View 2, Downtown Dubai, UAE
View of downtown Dubai. Burj Al Arab can be noticed in the far right.
Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Bellagio Fountains, Closer Shot, UAE
A closer shot of the fountains which are about to dance – check the video below.
Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Belaggio Fountains, Luxurious Villas, UAE
Luxurious villas, close shot.
Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall from the Air, UAE
Dubai Mall, the world’s largest, seen from the observatory.
Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Crossroads in the Desert, UAE
A busy crossroad in the desert.
Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Open-Air Observation Deck, UAE
Svet, at the open-air observation deck (level 124).
Dubai, Burj Khalifa, History of the Spire, UAE
The spire was constructed inside the building and then placed on top of it since no crane was that tall to reach it.
Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Stupefying Shadow, UAE
A stupefying shadow from the Burj.
Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Beautiful building, Dusk, UAE
The building at dusk.
Dubai, Burj Khalifa and the Lake, at Dusk, UAE
Burj and the lake at dusk.
Dubai, Lake Fountains, Night View, UAE
Dancing fountain show (photo from the phone).

Dubai’s fountains as seen from level 125:

Etymology of the Name

Burj Khalifa’s original name was supposed to be Burj Dubai, but at its inauguration was changed to Burj Khalifa in honour of Abu Dhabi’s emir and President of the UAE – Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The Emirati capital and Khalifa bin Zayed lent lump sum amounts to Dubai in order for it to pay its debts in regards to the construction of Burj Dubai and other humongous infrastructure projects in the Gulf city of Dubai.

When to Visit Burj Khalifa

I have prepared a list of recommendations and useful tips for visiting Burj Khalifa which is a holder of more than 20 different records:

  1. Register in advance to ensure you have a spot. Waiting until the last moment is not a good option.
  2. My friend told me to visit the tower at noon (12:30) because at 13:00 there is an amazing fountain show (see video above). I am sure a lot of people would prefer visiting it at sunset but he told me it is jam-packed with people and the vista is not that good (fogs, clouds, desert storms, etc.).
  3. The open-air observation deck is a better place to take all your photos for Facebook, Instagram or your blog (level 124). It may seem like an obvious hint but there are swarms of people there so better plan in advance when to go there (and be as cheeky as possible, he-he).
  4. Evening fountain shows start at 18:30 and they are every half an hour for around 3-4 minutes. They are a magnificent and a must-see event. Therefore, a great spot to observe them is TGI Fridays (see a photo of the fountains at night above) in the Dubai Mall. It has an enormous terrace which provides a mesmerising panorama overlooking the lake.
  5. Prices and when to make a reservation can be found here.


“Burj Khalifa is a singular project that illustrates the success of collective human endeavour. A project of Burj Khalifa’s size and scale happens once in a lifetime.”
Mohamed Ali Alabbar,
Chairman, Emaar Properties

The tallest man-made building in the world, Burj Khalifa, has a fascinating history of contrusction.

What do you think of this contemporary “beast”?

28 comments on “Burj Khalifa – the Steel Gargantuan in the Middle of the Desert

  1. Bernard Tan

    Very beautiful place! from desert to cosmopolitan!

  2. Hung Thai [Up Up and a Bear]

    I’ve actually been to Taipei 101 and would love to compare that with this building – the super interesting about Taipei 101 is the earthquake-core that moves to make the building “earthquake-proof.” I’m not a particular fan of huge buildings but I might make an exception for this place. And are the pictures just dark or is it smog?

    • Svet

      Hey, Hung, I have never been to Taipei 101 but it surely is fascinating to read about it from your story too. It was not a very clear day and most of my photos were taken at the observatory on level 125 so that is why they are a bit obscure and dark.

  3. Emma Hart | Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles

    I’ve been researching Dubai today and had a bit of a “look around” on Google Street View. The Burj Khalifa looks HUGE but I don’t think anything could prepare me for how tall it actually is. And the views from the observation deck look incredible!

    • Svet

      Hehehe, yes. Huge will be an understatement. 🙂 The views from the observation deck would have been more impressive should the weather had been clearer, but.. oh, well, cannot complain 🙂

  4. Jo

    Dubai is not on top of my bucket list but if I do make it there- Burj khalifa is surely gonna be bang on top 🙂

  5. Crizzy Kiss (@CrizzyKiss)

    Feels like you’re on top of the world when you’re standing on top of that building.. 😉 I had only tried riding in a driverless train in some airport in German, really cool experience!

  6. thetraveloguer

    Really interesting. It’s such a huge building!

  7. Melody Pittman

    Those fountains are insane! Wow, everything about AD is just so over the top! 😉

  8. sher

    love these aerial shots! i’ve always wanted to visit dubai!

  9. thetravelpockets

    I watched the video and it kinda reminded me of the dancing fountains in Vegas. I have never been to Dubai, but lately a number of my friends have visited and it really looks like an interesting place.

    • Svet

      Absolutely! I believe they have been designed by the same person. It really is worth visiting. So much diversity to be explored!

  10. marie

    Great shots! I thought the World islands went bankrupt during the financial crash? Have they been built now or are they half finished as before?

    • Svet

      Thank you! Well, I believe they had never been finished. A failed project, but that does not seem to hurt too much of Dubai’s pride 🙂

  11. Chantell

    I loved the list of recommendations for a visit to the Burj Khalifa. I went to Dubai last year and saw it but from the ground. It is great to see your photos and know what view I missed out on. Thanks for sharing!

    • Svet

      Yes, that was my reason for writing them. So much more can be seen when you have them in hand 🙂 Oh, yes, to feel the real charm of a city, I always climb to a high-rise building and what better place in Dubai than the tallest building worldwide? 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  12. Bailey K.

    Oh, very good tips. I’d love to see the fountains from that high! I love how they look in your pictures and video.

    • Svet

      The fountains are amazing indeed. Too bad YouTube cut the sound of my video. It was Andrea Bocelli’s music which completed the sight so much.

  13. Shayan Naveed (@ShayanBkk)

    I was just there in Dubai and although I saw the Burj from up front, I didn’t even try to go up there. I got to see an amazing fountain show and take some great pictures. It’s definitely a marvelous structure. Next time I’m in Dubai, I’ll be sure to go up using this guide.

    • Svet

      Oh, for me visiting it was off the discussion table – I had to do it regardless! It is a reasonable price to pay for visiting such a miraculous feat of engineering 🙂

  14. Lachezar

    I will definitely visit Abu Dhabi and the Burj some day 🙂
    Just seeing all the photos is simply amazing…it makes you wonder how far could human engineering go.

    • Svet

      Thanks very much, Lachezar! They are both so worth the visit. Human engineering in the UAE really has gone far beyond what some imagine. 🙂

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