Alain Robert, the French “urban climber”, has overcome vertigo and debilitating injuries to scale some of the world’s best-known monuments and skyscrapers using little more than his bare hands. Previous conquests have included the Eiffel Tower, Taipei 101 and Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
So when Dubai’s Burj Khalifa opened a little more than a year ago to become the tallest building in the world, it was natural that it would be on the 49-year-old climber’s hit list. On 28 March he climbed the building’s 828 meters in high winds in just over six hours. And unlike many of his previous ascents, this one had official approval and he was cheered on by crowds at Dubai Mall.
Did nobody think to inform Monsieur Robert that there’s an elevator (57 of them in fact)? If you want to hit Burj Khalifa’s heights without getting your hair messed up, buy a timed-entry ticket (or pay a premium to go straight in) and you can soon be traveling at 10 meters per second to ‘At the Top’, the observation deck on the 124th floor. As phenomenal as the view is during the day, it’s worth returning for a nocturnal visit as well; they’re open to 10p.m., or midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, so you can make the most of Dubai’s clear desert nights and dazzling lights.
If you want more time to take in the view, you can try the recently-opened grill room and lounge At.mosphere on the 122nd floor. And then there’s always the Armani Hotel. No matter that it’s a bit lower down in the building – after a night here you can always brag that you woke up in the tallest building in the world.