My heart was pounding so fast. I kept looking at the elevator that will take us up to the 124th floor. Everybody was so excited. One baby was disturbing my thought and probably everybody’s excitement too. She was crying non-stop, uncontrollably loud since we first waited in the line. She must have felt my fear, my indecision and my excitement. My knees were trembling and my hands were all sweaty. I have a severe issue with heights. An old lady, possibly on her 80’s, short like me with such bubbly personality from Australia (judging from her accent) asked me if I was okay. She noticed my fear and she also felt the same way. Then she offered her arm and I took it. She smiled and said “Ill be your date today. We’ll take care of each other”. My grandma must have been smiling at me from above. Then our time comes and we were ushered inside the elevator.
Welcome to the highest building in the world- the extraordinary, impressively magnificent and jaw-dropping Burj Khalifa.
The moment the elevator door closes, this small, 2×2 space suddenly turned into a club, a luxurious elevator with a kaleidoscope of colors dancing to that Arabian rhythm. My fear suddenly diminished as all of us were pulled to an array of pictures, displaying the building’s architectural feat. My hips were betraying me, succumbing to that all too familiar music and my head was literally turning in a counterclockwise direction. It was like watching a stage full of small, LCD screens, and I couldn’t decide where to look at and concentrate. It was by far, the most colorful and fastest elevator ride of my life.
As soon as we get off the elevator, we walked slowly to the door that would take us out for the open-air viewing. I stood for a moment, took a deep breath and uttered a small prayer. Then my memory traveled to a distant past, the very first elevator ride to the top- the TV tower in Seattle way back in 2005. It was that moment that I discovered my fear. I couldn’t even walk to the edge, from the Christ – the Redentor in Rio de Janeiro. Truly God must have prepared me for this, having lunch at the edge of the famous revolving restaurant of the Macau Tower. Then lastly, my visit at Taipei 101, currently the world’s second highest and also at the Skypark of the Marina Bay Sands of Singapore. I slowly bid goodbye to Ms. Inger, and graciously took a picture of her with all of Dubai wonders in the distant horizon.
Towering at approx. 800 meters, the Burj Khalifa has definitely redefined the way we look at things. To borrows the words of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, “The word impossible is not in the leaders dictionaries. No matter how big the challenges, strong faith, determination and resolve will overcome them.” Indeed, at the peak of its construction, approx. 12,000 workers were on the site, braving the heat and humidity. There was the vision and the leaders acted on it, making this dream a reality. They say that the concrete used for Burj Khalifa is equivalent to 100,000 elephants and the spire can be seen 95kms away.
My visit At The Top lasted for 49 minutes. From there, everything seemed so small. I could hear people talking about ‘The World”, a new project in Dubai, visible in the far distance, like buying a man-made island, specifically designed for the rich and famous. The Jumeira Palm was also visible and all of Dubai’s skyscrapers. Funny, I thought of finding a job here as everywhere smells like money, money and luxury. Unlike other emirates, like Sharjah and Fujairah, Dubai is totally a different world, where it is okay to wear shorts and not too strict and conservative. I went to the souvenir shops but ended up not buying anything. As much as I loved my welcome picture (photographers were taking pictures before entering the elevator), I didn’t have enough money with me. Thank God I don’t have a credit card or else I could spend it for the backpack, mug and a small replica of Burj Khalifa. My experiences and this story are enough, I guess, for a souvenir that would stay with me for a long, long while.
What is like then to be At The Top? I could only summarize it in one word- breathtaking! I totally salute all those workers, engineers and everyone in this industry. They truly serve their purpose for people like me, who could only marvel with much determination and a doze of self-motivation, to see the world through the eyes of the falcons.