Burj Khalifa in Dubai

We all know that Dubai likes to be at the top of the charts. And from humble beginnings it has travelled far. Dubai doesn’t really appear on a map until the 18th century. It was a small fishing village famed for its pearls. With cultural influences from Muslim, Turk, Mongol and Ottoman Empires, the Arabian Peninsula then became a British strategic base in the nineteenth century. Having defeated the pirates in the Gulf, Britain offered protection in return for local influence and the Trucial States were born.

So from a piece of grit grows a beautiful pearl. The dancing fountains at the Dubai Mall are the World’s largest, and the same mall boasts the World’s largest fish tank (or to be precise the largest piece of acrylic). The indoor ski slope at the Mall of the Emirates is the World’s longest. Dubai is also on the edge of the largest desert, the Empty Quarter. In short, Dubai likes its claims to fame; from high rise living and the biggest residential project – Jumeirah Beach Residence – to the desolate salt flats; from the mountains on one border to the spectacular coral reefs on the other. Dubai is a place to be explored.

We travel around the World, so why not travel up? And in my mind all explorations should start with the Burj Khalifa. Whether you like the high life or not, this is one structure which cannot fail to cause your jaw to drop. It is the spinnaker that keeps this Emirate afloat. It is the pinnacle around which the city revolves, and as the world’s tallest building standing at 828 metres, it dominates the skyline.

The Burj Khalifa opened in 2010, only six years after construction began. At one point a floor was being built every day and to keep the concrete from setting in the heat, before it reached its lofty destination, ice was added to the mix. It should be on your travel wish list, but thanks to a new image, which places you right on top of the world, you can now visit from the comfort of your chair.

The interactive photograph offers a 360 degree view, and was created by photographer Gerald Donovan to celebrate the second Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Photography Award (HIPA), which will take place in Dubai in March.

The photograph is really a jigsaw, which allows you to zoom and navigate, and is made from 70 separate 80 megapixel images pieced together. And it gives you access to a view like no other. Although the public observation deck is on the 124th floor, the photographs were taken from the 160th floor. Whether you suffer from vertigo or not, the final steps on a 200 metre ladder are not ones I for one wish to take. It sounds like a Mission Impossible, and I think I’ll leave that to Tom Cruise.

The practical bit

If you want to visit the observation deck on the 124th floor book in advance. This not only guarantees your ticket but is also much cheaper than on-the-door tickets. Unfortunately, if a sandstorm blows in you won’t be able to change your visit slot.

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