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Straight to the Top of the World: The Burj Khalifa

Dubai, United Arab Emirates --- In Dubai it's go big or go home... the largest mall in the world, the largest choreographed fountain in the world, naturally they must have the tallest building/tallest structure/tallest free-standing structure in the world (yes, it tops all 3 categories). The Burj Khalifa towers 828m, 160 floors (2716.4 ft) above downtown Dubai & is home to the Armani Hotel & Residences. Completed in 2009, this work of art pushes the boundaries of modern architecture yet only took a short 6 years to build. Mimicking a Hymenocallis flower, the tower boasts a triple-lobed footprint with enough rebar that would extend over a quarter of the way around the globe of laid end to end. Initially called the Burj Dubai, a very last minute agreement was made to rename the world's largest tower after the President of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyanafter. Although rivals, the much wealthier city of Abu Dhabi lent Dubai $25 billion to meet financial obligations.

As Beri & I were in Dubai for a friend's wedding, we had Sunday to explore as much as we could before the farewell party - it was risky but we decided last minute to squeeze in the Burj Khalifa because it's a must if it's your first time to Dubai. It is probably the busiest time but going around sunset is definitely best as you'll experience the change of scenery as the city lights up.

Either way, your ears will pop & there will be a phenomenal view.

148th Floor - Sky Lounge

The first class experience begins with being ushered into a lounge to be served fresh Arabic coffee & dates while you wait on approximately 20 other people to join your group. At the top of the hour you'll be guided past long lines of other tourists and take an exclusive elevator to the 125th floor (77 seconds) then continue on a second elevator to the Sky Lounge. Greeted by servers with trays of drinks, you'll be given 40 minutes to peruse around the 360-degree lounge. Head straight to the terrace as other guests establish their bearings & you'll be fortunate to take in the spectacular view alone. A petite boutique shop houses a collection of higher end souvenirs & gifts to remember your experience. A very intimate experience, you are free to descend whenever you please.

125th Floor - At the Top

Curious as to what we were missing, we hopped out at the 125th on the way down to do a quick lap. As soon as you exit the elevator you're quickly cattled through multiple photo stops. Unlike the top floor, there is a photoshop where workers are prepared to edit your photos & slap on a cheeky background at ridiculously fast speeds.

The 125th floor is obviously larger but quite crowded & difficult to take a clear photo without passing photobombers. There are interactive displays that are worth checking out. This floor also has a large gift store to purchase every replica of Dubai. Guests continue to wait in never ending lines to descend to the initial entrance. Thankful priority passes allowed us to simply cut the whole line, making every extra penny & dirty scowl from onlookers worth it.

Tid Bits:

- Feel free to "haggle" at the ticket counter - we managed to get a discount for 2 people & an earlier time

- When asking a taxi to take you to the Burk Khalifa, ask to go to the Emirates Mall instead. Just because the Burj Khalifa looks close to where the taxi is dropping you off, it probably is not & constant construction makes it difficult to find if you're in a hurry

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