Burj Khalifa Facts and Information

Burj Khalifa is a megatall skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the building is best known for being the current world's tallest skyscraper, it's the most popular tourist attraction in Dubai (Details: Tourist information of Burj Khalifa).

Dubai Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa looked up

This page introduces some facts about the building and the related information.

Burj Khalifa, literally means Khalifa Tower. Formerly known as Burj Dubai or Dubai Tower, which was changed to Burj Khalifa when the tower officially opened on January 4th 2010. Khalifa is derived from the name of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Maktoum, who is the president of Adu Dhabi as well as United Arab Emirates, Burj Khalifa and other construction projects in Dubai were once on the verge of halting due to the attack of Financial Crisis, it was neighbor Adu Dhabi provided funds to Dubai in the hard time, this is the main reason for Dubai to rename the tower Burj Khalifa, additionally the word Khalifa has a important significance in Islam, it means Islamic world's supreme leader.

The address of Burj Khalifa is 1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the tower is located in Downtown Dubai, an area along Sheikh Zayed Road, it's one of several districts in the city that filled with lots of high-rises buildings, another district with significant amount of skyscrapers is Dubai Marina, the two districts is approximately 11 miles apart.

Burj Khalifa seen along with other towers in Downtown Dubai
Burj Khalifa seen along with other towers in Downtown Dubai.

In comparison with Dubai Marina which located right by the sea, Burj Khalifa is 2.1 miles away from the sea, so the natural view surrounding the tower is not as tempting as Dubai Marina, but there are many man-made lakes and rivers around the tower, these lakes and rivers have made up for the deficiency to a certain extent.

The architectural height of Burj Khalifa is 828 meters or 2717 feet, this is measured to the top of the spire, as its spire is considered an architectural element of the tower.
Before 2010, Burj Khalifa's height has long been kept as a secret in order to prevent it from being surpassed by potential competitors. Finally the owner Emaar claimed the standard height of Burj Khalifa to be 828 meters, with a total height of 829.8 meters to its tip (there's a 1.7 meter small needle atop the top of spire at 828 meters), making it the tallest building in the world in any categories. As of 2019, Burj Khalifa has hold the crown of World's Tallest Building for 10 years, it will keep the crown for another 3 to 5 years, until in 2022 or later when the Dubai Creek Tower or Jeddah Tower surpasses it.

The highest occupied floor is level 154, which is 584m high from ground. For public sightseeing, there are 3 observation decks, respectively on levels 124,125 and 148. The one on level 148 is now the world's highest observation deck at a height of 555 meters.

looking down at Burj Khalifa
looking down at Burj Khalifa


Mixed-use, the tower is used in a variety of purposes, respectively are Office, Residential, Hotels, Restaurant, Observation, Communication.
The 39th floor or level 39 and floors below are used as hotels or residences by Armani, the floors from level 39 to level 108 are mainly used for residences. Above level 108 to level 154 are office spaces, with the exception of level 124,125 and level 148, which are the 3 separated observation decks for public sightseeing. And there's also a restaurant set at level 122, named At.mosphere.
The floors above level 154 to 163 are all mechanical floors. The number of floors is so huge as there are a total of 2909 stairs from the ground floor to 160th floor.

Burj Khalifa at sunset
Burj Khalifa at sunset

163 is commonly known as the number of Burj Khalifa's floors, but a 2717-foot building couldn't have only 163 floors even when the spire is removed right? That is because the floors above level 163 and below the spire are served as the base structure of spire, which is not habitable and also not for mechanical use, but it occupies 46 floors, hence technically the building has 209 floors.

Every year, fireworks show or laser show will take place on Burj Khalifa on New Year's Eve, attracting thousands of people to watch on the scene, and millions watch online in the same time. The last firework show was occurred on January 1, 2017, a laser show was shown on New Year's Eve of 2018, laser shows is also occurred in some other events or festivals.

Burj Khalifa fireworks show
Burj Khalifa fireworks show

Design and Development:
It was the government of Dubai made the decision to build a world's tallest building, the intentions of building Burj Khalifa are various and listed below:
1. Dubai wants to make the tourism the emirate's second industry to lighten the reliance on Oil trade.
2. Building a tower that size can greatly improve the identity of city and its reputation in the world, and to capture the attention of the world.
3. Bring the title of World's Tallest Building back to Middle East as Khufu Pyramid had ever been the tallest building of the world for more than 4000 years.
4. The ruler of Dubai once said in twitter that the idea of building the Burj Khalifa was inspired by a visit to Empire State Building in New York City many decades ago in 1960s, Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world by that time, the ruler got deeply inspired by it and generated the idea of a tallest building in his homeland.

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa was designed by Adrian Smith from Chicago-based architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, he has also designed some other notable projects like Jin Mao Tower, Wuhan Greenland Center in China, and Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, which is set to become the next tallest building in the world.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith, the Architect designed Burj Khalifa

The tower is built on a shamrock-shaped footprint, making the tower seen like a letter 'Y' from above in the air, this shape derived from Hymenocallis, also known as desert lily, a local plant live in desert, the tower's cross section area reduces gradually as it rises.

hymenocallis, desert lily
Hymenocallis, a plant in Dubai which inspired the shape of footprint of Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa from satellite
Burj Khalifa seen from satellite, showing the Y-shape base and how it tapers gradually to the tip.

This shape in the one hand is for the stability of the building, the Jeddah Tower which currently under construction is also based on this shape and the shape can also be found on other structures such as CN Tower, Wuhan Greenland Center and Russia Tower(cancelled). On the other hand, this sort of shape is more suitable for the hotels and residences, in which the scenery from the outdoor should be highly concerned, the Y-shape design can provide the people living in it with views to the greatest extent, that is why the lower portion that below the level 108 where the Y-shape is more apparent is used for hotels and residences and the upper portion where the Y-shape has almost transformed to circular is occupied by offices, where people working there are supposed to concentrate their focus on their work not the scenery.

Burj Khalifa was developed by Emaar Properties, a renowned local real estate firm that has also developed many other skyscrapers in Dubai and now they are working on next tallest structure of the world which temporarily named 'The Tower'.

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa

The construction of Burj Khalifa was contracted by Samsung Construction, a subsidiary of Samsung Group, the group is best known for its electronic products and in respect of construction it had also constructed many famous buildings around the world including Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and Taipei 101 Tower in Taipei.
The construction began in 2004, the building started rising in March 2005.

Burj Khalifa under construction seen in April 2005

After that Burj Khalifa grew very fast, below is how it looked in February 2006. The building had become a 30-floor highrise building from a Y-shape base structure in less than one year.

Burj Khalifa under construction in February 2006
Burj Khalifa under construction in February 2006

As the building tapers into the sky, the construction became faster when the building built to higher floors.

Burj Khalifa under construction in October 2006
Burj Khalifa under construction in October 2006

As of January 2007, the tower had become an imposing supertall skyscraper that has more than one hundred floors built. And one month later it became the building with most floors on the earth.

Burj Khalifa under construction in January 2007
Burj Khalifa under construction in January 2007

The tower surpassed Taipei 101 to become world's tallest building in architectural height by July 2007.

Burj Khalifa under construction by the end of June 2007
Burj Khalifa under construction by the end of June 2007

In less than a month the tower surpassed Sears Tower's antenna at 527 m becoming the world's tallest building in any category, unofficially though. In September 2007 the CN Tower was surpassed by Burj Khalifa and lost its title of tallest free standing structure in the world, not officially again, as Burj Khalifa was still under construction and growing.

Burj Khalifa seen in October 2007
Burj Khalifa seen in October 2007, when it had become the tallest self standing man-made structure in the world

Although the tower had already become the tallest building and tallest structure in the world, the height of Burj Khalifa was still substantially growing.

Burj Khalifa seen under construction
Burj Khalifa seen under construction
Construction picture of Burj Khalifa
Construction picture of Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa under construction
Burj Khalifa under construction
Burj Khalifa seen close to completion in 2009
Burj Khalifa seen close to completion in 2009

The tower topped out in January 2009 at its full height of 829.8 meters, this is much higher than the former tallest building Taipei 101.

The whole project cost 1.5 billion dollars, the tower itself cost 1 billion dollars, it's not very high for a building with that height, even many buildings around 300 meters in American cities cost this much, this is more obvious when compared with One World Trade Center in New York City, which cost 3.9 billions dollars. But for buildings in Dubai, this number is far ahead of other supertalls while the majority of Dubai's supertall skyscrapers cost only around 300 million dollars.

Tourism and Sightseeing:

Main Article: Visiting Burj Khalifa Observation Decks

Burj Khalifa with the Persian Gulf in the background
Burj Khalifa with the Persian Gulf in the background

Burj Khalifa has the world's highest building-based observation deck. When the tower first opened in 2010, they opened the observation deck on level 124 named At The Top at the same time, it's a observatory that contains outdoor terrace, at 452 meters high, almost only a half height of the tower, even Shanghai World Financial Center which is only 492 meters tall has a observation deck at 474 m high. But At The Top had been the highest observation deck that contains outdoor terrace until the Canton Tower's 488 m high outdoor observatory surpassed it.
In 2014 Burj Khalifa opened its second observation deck named At The Top SKY at level 148 at height of 555 m, surpassed the observation deck of Canton Tower, which was the highest observation deck back then. And there's also an outdoor part, thus became the highest observation deck of the world in both the indoor and outdoor category.
The price of the admission ticket is much higher than other skyscrapers around the world. As of 2018, the standard ticket for accessing the observation decks on 124th and 125th floors cost 135 UAE dirhams, approximately 37 dollars. The exception is dusk time, which starts at 17:30 and ends at 19:00, it is the ideal time for sightseeing as the scenery is usually most beautiful by this time, and by the way visitors can view both the day views and night views in a single visit, a same visit by that time cost 210 dirhams. The admission tickets can be booked from here.
The standard ticket for a visit to all three observation decks costs 370 dirhams, approximately 100 dollars. For dusk times, it need 525 dirhams for a same visit.
Note: There are more other options available, and the prices may subject to change, check the building's official website for more details and booking in advance on some third party sites will generally cost less.

Burj Khalifa Observation Deck
Outdoor terrace on Level 124

Popular Culture:

American film Mission: Impossible - The Ghost Protocol:

In the film, for tracing the exchange of the code between the lady killer Moreau and two other men, Ethan Hunt(Tom Cruise) jumps out from a upper floor around 500 m high to scale on the glass cladding using a pair of special gloves, the destination is a computer service room, in the meanwhile, one of gloves got out of order, which makes him dropped about 30 foot before he steady himself to continues climb up using one arm with the left glove, and after climbed to a level at height of 523 m, he breaks the glass and enters the computer room.

Besides the film, in the reality, the French climber Alain Robert who dubbed 'spider-man' as he had scaled numerous skyscrapers before, scaled Burj Khalifa on March 28th 2011, it took him 6 hours to reach the top tip while a large crowd watching from below.

Burj Khalifa in Mission: Impossible
Tom Cruise scaling the glass facade of Burj Khalifa

Chinese film Switch (Chinese: 天机·富春山居图):
Several notable tourist spots in Dubai are featured in the film, like Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah, and Burj Khalifa, there's a scene in which Andy Lau (a famous actor in Hong Kong) jumps out from a high floor of Burj Khalifa.

Video game Sim City series: like other skyscrapers around the world, Burj Khalifa is featured in Sim City.

American film Independence Day 2: Burj Khalifa is used as a spear by alien to destroy London, it is seen in the film that Burj Khalifa soars out of the clouds in Dubai and ploughs to London, finally it crashes into the River Thames.

Independence Day Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa seen falling into River Thames
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