Here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the incredible tallest tower in the world, the Burj Khalifa
The world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa is an architectural and engineering feat you will find in the Middle Eastern city of Dubai. Dubai is the largest city (though not the capital city) of the United Arab Emirates, an oil-rich country in the Middle East facing the Persian (Arabian) Gulf.
As one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, it naturally brings a lot of curiosity for visitors and a lot of questions! So other than can you visit the Burj Khalifa? – (short answer is yes!) – we bet you have plenty of other burning queries. We are here to try and help you uncover more about the most incredible building of the early 21st-century
Burj Khalifa Facts
Building of the Burj Khalifa
The 160-story tall Burj Khalifa building in Dubai was completed in 2010.
Excavation began in January 2004 and the final opening ceremony took place six years later, 4 January 2010.
The 828 metre tall Burj Khalifa is one serious record-breaker of a man-made building!
Burj Khalifa Guiness World Records
Not one but six Guinness World Records are currently held by the impressively tall Burj Khalifa
- The tallest freestanding structure in the world
- The highest total number of stories in the world (163 floors)
- The highest occupied floor in the world (160th)
- The highest outdoor observation deck in the world
- The elevator with longest travel distance in the world
- The tallest service elevator in the world
The Burj Khalifa is also home to the world’s highest restaurant – At.mosphere on Level 122 of the building. Guests can enjoy a menu full of luxury items like oysters and caviar as they stair out the city skyline from a height of 441-meters!
The Burj Khalifa houses the world’s second-highest swimming pool, located on the 76th floor. (The world’s highest swimming pool is located on the 118th floor (484 metres up) in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at International Commerce Centre, Hong Kong).
Design and Construction of the Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merill, (SOM) an American architectural, urban planning, and engineering firm. They also designed the Willis Toere (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago and the One World Trade Centre in New York. Adrian Smith FAIA, RIBA was the consulting design partner.
The building is made in “Y” shaped design to reduce wind force and assist in constructability.
It is designed to resemble the Hymenocallis flower – a Spider Lily, native to the desert regions of the Middle East. The central core emerges at the top and culminates in a sculpted spire.
It took more than:
- 110,000 tons of concrete
- 55,000 tons of steel rebar
- Nearly 26,000 glass panels
- 22 million man-hours to complete the Burj Khalifa
- At the peak of construction of the Burj Khalifa, 12,000 workers worked on the building per day
The foundation of the building is supported by a 3.7 metre thick mat, supported by 192 1.5 metre wide and 43 metre long piles.
One of the most recognizable architectural features of the Burj Khalifa is the 200 metre tall “telescopic” spire on the top of it. It’s made from more than 4000-tons of steel and on a clear day the spire can be seen from up to 60-miles away!
The site where the Burj Khalifa tower is built was previously used as a military compound called “Central Military Command”.
Cost of the Burj Khalifa
The whole project cost of building the Burj Khalifa was $1.5 billion dollars, with the tower itself costing 1 billion dollars!
Materials used to build the Burj Khalifa
Here are some comparisons to try and get your mind around!
- The weight of the concrete is equivalent to 100,000 elephants.
- The total weight of aluminum used on the Burj Khalifa is equivalent to that of five A380 aircraft.
- Each glass panel weighs 362kg and has an energy saving coating
Elevators in the Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa contains 57 elevators and 8 escalators.
The building is serviced by the longest single running elevator, which is 140 floors.
It’s not the fastest elevator in the world – only currently ranked 3rd fastest! 10 meters per second will take you just a minute to get from the ground floor to the observation deck on Level 124.
163 floors of the Burj Khalifa are located above the ground, and only one floor is located below the ground.
The building has a specially designed elevator system for controlled evacuation during emergency situations.
The Burj Khalifa observatory floor elevators, taking passengers to “At the Top” are double-deck cabs with a capacity of 12 to 14 persons per cab.
Mechanical and safety features of Burj Khalifa
Since in an evacuation it would be near impossible to get people out in one go, there are pressurized, air-conditioned refuges located approximately every 25 floors.
The building contains seven double-story mechanical floors which house electrical substations, water tanks and pumps, air handling units, and other essential components to keep the tallest tower in the world running.
The top four floors of the building are for communications and broadcasting.
The building capacity is 35,000 people, though the average occupancy is of the Burj Khalifa is 10,000 people.
Is Burj Khalifa really the Tallest Building in the World?
Yes. Burj Khalifa sits at 828 meters (2716.5 feet) tall making it the tallest building in the world by a long stretch.
The Burj Khalifa has been the tallest structure and building in the world since 2009 (it actually capped out at over 141 floors and broke the record in July 2007 but it needs to be complete to count!)
To put this in perspective it’s 3x the height of the Eiffel Tower and nearly twice as tall as the Empire State Building (more on its closes competitors below!)
Its occupied height (height of the floors occupied by people) is 1918-feet (584.5-meters), that’s more than half a kilometre up in the air!
You may not be too keen to take the staris though – 160 floors involve climbing 2909 stairs.
Is Burj Khalifa still the World’s Tallest Tower?
At the time of writing in early 2022, yes, no one has taken the title off of Burj Khalifa, yet.
It is possible it won’t hold this title, forever, in fact, a taller tower IS slated for Dubai though a confirmed height and start date for “the Tower” seem elusive just now…
You will see many other claims too though none has come to fruition yet. The major recent competitor was for Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia with a height of 1,008 metres, but nothing much has been heard of this project since 2018.
Is “At the Top”Burj Khalifa the Tallest Observation Deck in the world?
Briefly, yes the 124th floor Observation deck of Burj Khalifa “At The Top” held this title at 452 metres (1483 feet) as the tallest observation deck in the world when it opened in January 2010.
It only held this record until December 2011, when it was over taken by Cloud top 444 (Canton Tower) in Guangzhou, China, coming in at 488 meters (1,601 feet).
What did Burj Khalifa do? Open another observation deck, of course! SKY Level opened in October 2014 on the 148th floor – 555 metres above ground level.
Burj Khalifa lost the title again when Shanghai Tower opened in June 2016 with an observation deck at 561 metres.
What Burj Khalifa can still claim is that it has the highest OUTDOOR terrace!
Oh, and to top things off, they opened The Lounge in February 2019. Levels 152 to 154 now bring the highest possible dining and drinks experiences in the world, with an open observation deck on Level 152.
Meaning of Burj Khalifa
What does Burj Stand for in Burj Khalifa?
A Burj in Arabic is simply a tower.
What does Khalifa stand for in Burj Khalifa?
Khalifa is in reference to Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the former president of the United Arab Emirates. During the construction process, the tower was actually called Burj Dubai. However, during the financial crisis, the tower reemerged as the Burj Khalifa – we can only guess what was discussed behind closed doors!
What are all the floors in Burj Khalifa actually used for?
One of the more curious and perhaps pertinent questions to address; what is the Burj Khalifa actually used for?!
We can tell you most but some floors do still remain a mystery inside the world’s tallest tower! The tower is predominantly residential rather than commercial, though some floors are dedicated to hotels, restaurants, and observation decks open to the public:
An Observation Deck
There are observation decks on levels 124/125 and Level 148 of Burj Khalifa.
A standard “At The Top” ticket takes you to Level 124 with an internal staircase to Level 125 and an external observation deck, whilst an extended ticket including “SKY” will take you to 555 metres above the ground and the second tallest observation deck in the world.
Or, read on we have a detailed guide to exactly all the ticket options available and other ways you can get inside in our Ultimate Visitors Guide to the Burj Khalifa.
Hotels in the Burj Khalifa
The only hotel actually operating within the floors of the Burj Khalifa is the Armani which occupies the lower floors of the hotel. There are also 144 one and two-bedroom suites known as the Armani Residences.
Restaurants in the Burj Khalifa
Sky-high dining your thing?
The most iconic dining spot you’ll find almost anywhere in the world is At.Mosphere on Level 122. They offer breakfast, lunch, afternoon teas, and dinner.
Not to be outdone, there is also a VIP Lounge on Level 123, with your own exclusive VIP entrance – learn more about how to secure your VIP experience here.
Higher again, you’ll find The Lounge Burj Khalifa, occupying Levels 152 to 154. The Lounge offers “Tea in the Clouds”, “Bubby Sundowner” and “Cocktail Under the Stars” as one of the most unique experiences in Dubai – and now the highest dining in the world at 575 metres!
World’s Highest Mosque
The 158th floor of the Burj Khalifa is apparently home to the world’s highest mosque!
More Burj Khalifa Trivia
I know our trivia buffs will still have more questions, here are some of the most common we receive:
Burj Khalifa Tom Cruise
Let’s cover off some of your all-important Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol questions!!
Did he do his own stunt work? Rumour says yes! He did have a stunt double for some scenes but the shots a real. He is in a safety harness but this is digitally edited out.
Apparently, the crew broke 35 windows during filming, ouch!
Let’s relive that moment here!
Sustainability and the Burj Khalifa
Every year 57 million litres of water (about 20 Olympic pools) are collected sustainably from the building’s condensation collection system. The water is used for irrigation to water the landscaping and plants, for the cooling system, and to supply the Dubai Fountain.
The Burj Fountain is a nighty show at the foot of the Burj Khalifa held every lunchtime and night – you can learn more about the Burj Fountain here. The Fountain show was designed and choreographed by the same creators of the Bellagio Hotel Lake in La s Vegas
Burj Khalifa Art Collection
The Burj Khalifa houses a large art collection. There are more than 1000-pieces of art from some of the world’s best-known artists hanging within the property. Many of them were commissioned specifically for the building.
External climbs of the Burj Khalifa
On March 28, 2011, Alain Robert, a French rock climber known as “Spiderman” scaled the outside of the Burj Khalifa. The climb to the top of the spire took him six hours! To comply with UAE safety laws, Robert, who usually climbs in free solo style, used a rope and harness.
Highest base jump from Burj Khalifa
As you’d expect, the highest base jump off a man-made building took place in April 2014 by French Jumpers Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet.
How do they clean the windows on Burj Khalifa?
There’s a lot of glass there, right? Close to 26,000 window panes are serviced by 18 permanently installed, cradle-equipped building maintenance units. They are stored inside the structure when not in use.
It takes 3 to 4 months to clean the entire building facade.
Advertising on Burj Khalifa
You will frequently see the Burj Khalifa lit up at night, in both celebration and solidarity for various causes, but did you know it can be “rented” for nighttime illumination too? No firm figures on exactly how much it costs to put your message on the Burj but it’s touted to be in the vicinity of AED 250,000 for a 3-minute prime time showing on a weekday 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM, through to AED 1 million for a 5x an evening weekend slot, wow!!
That video! “Emirates” hostee on top of the world
OK, so we all know now she’s actually a stunt woman, not an airline hostess, but what a way to welcome the world back post-pandemic. The Emirates stunt took place in August 2021 with Nicole Smith-Ludvik the incredible start of the show (and she came back again for a repeat performance promoting Expo 2020!)
Other Tall Towers in Dubai
Burj Khalifa is certainly not all alone in the high rise stakes in Dubai, albeit it unarguably stands head and shoulders above its the nearest competition!
In fact, Dubai has the highest number of skyscrapers measuring over 300 meters tall in the world (even surpassing New York, Shanghai, and Hong Kong!)
Some other spectacular towers you won’t want to miss in Dubai (In order of height as of January 2022, fully completed):
|Burj Khalifa||828 metres/2717 ft||163|
|Marina 101||425 metres/1394 ft||101|
|Princess Tower||413 metres/1355 ft||101|
|23 Marina||393 metres/1289 ft||100|
|Elite Residence||380 metres/1248 ft||87|
|Address Boulevard||370 metres/1210 ft||72|
|Almas Tower||360 metres/1180 ft||68|
|Gevora Hotel||356 metres/1168 ft||75|
|JW Marriott Marquis (Tower 1 & 2)||355 metres/1165ft||77|
|Emirates Office Tower||355 metres/1165 ft||54|
Plenty more to come including Dubai Creek Tower, Le Maison by HDS and Ol Primo Tower 1 will all cap out over 300 metres tall
Where to find Burj Khalifa
Even if you only have a short layover (4 hours+) at DXB airport, it’s possible to exit the airport and take the Metro to Downtown Dubai in order to see the Burj Khalifa. You will need a little longer layover if you want to go up the tower, and pre-purchasing a timed ticket is a must as on-the-spot tickets are ludicrously more expensive (and you may not get in if its a peak time).
From pretty much anywhere in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa is an unmissable sight and a reminder of the possibilities you’ll find in the City of Gold.
More articles on Burj Khalifa
If you love Burj Khalifa as much as we do you may also want to check out these guides:
- Our complete guide to planning your trip up Burj Khalifa – all the different ticket categories and packages options to get yourself inside the incredible Burj Khalifa
- Burj Khalifa nightly light show – see when the Burj Khalifa lights up at night along with the Dubai fountain show
- Hotels with the best view of Burj Khalifa – where can you stay in Dubai to wake up with a spectacular view of the Burj Khalifa from your bedroom window?
- Dubai’s best views (other than the Burj Khalifa!) Where else can you get a spectacular view over the city of Dubai?
- Guinness World Records in Dubai – it’s not just tall towers Dubai is famous for, come and look at all the incredible records you’ll find in Dubai & the UAE
We hope you will one day get to enjoy a trip up the Burj Khalifa and discover even more fabulous facts about this iconic building once you’ve had the opportunity to journey inside.
It’s far from the only attraction in Dubai but without a doubt one of the most eye-catching and popular that visitors want to include in their must-see Top 10 attractions in Dubai.
Think we have any of our facts wrong? It can happen. Drop us a comment if you think anything needs updating!
Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Dubai, a handy guide on what to pack, and top tips for first-timers on the do’s and don’ts, laws and customs to be aware of.
- Check out this incredible list of 150+ places you should visit when you’re in Dubai.
- Pick up a Dubai Pass from iVenture or a Dubai Go City Pass to save up to 50% on top Dubai attractions
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!!!
- Discover the best areas to stay in Dubai, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
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