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Post details: Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

When I was a kid I was fascinated by wheat stalks. I'd be sitting at the edge of an undulating field in summer and marvel at the strength of the slim reedlike plants. I knew little of botany or material engineering at the time, but I was subconsciously admiring the ingenuity of nature's design which could support such long body on a comparatively narrow base. And that was exactly the sentiment I felt when I stood face to face with the world's tallest building - Burj Khalifa in Dubai. That and wondering whether the building owners had purchased enough satellite collision insurance.

Designed by American architect Adrian D. Smith, Burj Khalifa stands 828 meters (2717 feet) tall, which is about one extra Eiffel tower over the previous record holders - Willis Tower in Chicago, Taipei 101 or Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. With elevators zipping up and down at 40 mph, the tower concatenates 160 floors and 24348 windows and holds several odd records, such as the world's highest mosque, outdoor observation deck and swimming pool. It opened earlier this year (on January 4, 2010) with a resplendent ceremony that spared no fireworks, light shows or water effects known to man to underline its unique beauty.

The denizens of Dubai are well aware that any crown jewel looks best when displayed on a velvet pillow. Burj Khalifa is no exception and forms the center piece of a 27 acre park that features ornamented marble pavements, exotic tree formations and the Dubai Fountain - an elaborate network of water jets illuminated by 6,600 lights and 50 colored projectors. We got there this March and many construction projects were still in progress, but it was already clear that the neighborhood will be as impressive as the building itself.

Whether you approach Dubai from the desert, alongside the coast or from the sea, you can't miss the surreal view of a lanky needle-like structure towering high above the neighboring skyscrapers. Its sleek metallic design streaks upward with the effortlessness of a geyser. Or should I say a gushing oil well - considering the fact that its financing was rescued by the petroleum rich Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Despite its impressive dimensions, the tower is not intimidating. There is in fact something feminine about it. Elegance is an epithet that keeps suggesting itself as you roam around it. If I wanted to personify it, I would choose a young duchess carrying a plume of feathers on her hat with a truly aristocratic aplomb. She may not be intimidating, but she is way up there. If you dare and approach her, her majestic grandeur will capture your senses like a voracious vertical vortex and send them on a voyage well into the future.

I imagine that twenty years from now, a group of youngsters will congregate in an open air cafe in the tower's vicinity and order a round of the Cool Potion of the Future (TM) to consummate a fun Saturday spent at a camel race track or an air conditioned soccer stadium. As they roll fizzing liquids on their tongues, they may reflect on their lives and ponder the amazing potential this planet has. And perhaps some of them will lift their eyes to Burj Khalifa gleaming in the setting sun and realize that in this neck of the Universe, sky is the limit.



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