After exploring the nightlife of Dubai, and braving the wilderness on a desert safari, what better way for a blogger to reward himself than a refreshing cup of tea in the clouds? Ben Rhodes has bags of fun at the Burj Khalifa.
At first glance, the tallest building in the world – the Burj Khalifa – appears to be the epitome of grandiose posturing by the Dubai sheikhs, but there is a joyfully bittersweet sting to the story. The building was not quite complete before the global recession in 2008 which hit Dubai particularly badly and the only way they could complete the building was to borrow money from the neighbouring emirati Abu Dhabi. But there was one condition to the loan: originally called “Burj Dubai” the tower would have to be renamed Burj Khalifa after the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. And so forevermore the Dubai rulers will look out of their windows to see the most opulent reminder of their relative pauper status. Ah, the futility of wealth and power!
Nevertheless it is an incredible feat of human endeavour taking around 22 million man-hours to be completed. Standing at an awe-inspiring 828 metres and with over 160 floors it’s a monumental needle piercing the desert sky, with the top spire visible from 95km away. To put its scale into context against former winners of the tallest building moniker, it is about twice the height of Empire State Building and the total length of stainless steel bull nose fins used is equal to 293 times the height of France’s Eiffel Tower. Wowsers.
And it is also the perfect place to have that most English of pleasures, a cup of tea. On the 122nd floor there is a bar / restaurant called Atmosphere which specialises in posh nosh at dizzying heights. The lift to Atmosphere is found within Armani hotel, which is incredibly chic but with an intense smell of eau de cologne wafting in the lobby, making you feel like you’re getting a hug from your spivvy uncle at Christmas.
We were met by Claire on the ground floor and whooshed up to the top, where the panoramic views of Dubai are breathtaking. We were shown an art installation of hanging gold pins, which are said to be exactly mapped out to represent the position of the stars the moment the red ribbon was cut to open the building (although I doubt anyone ever checked the artist’s claim too thoroughly…)
The tea was equally impressive as the tower, and definitely a step up from a PG tips and a chocolate hobnob. First up was an elegant non-alcoholic cocktail served with a selection of sweet and savoury treats, followed by a concoction of infused tea leaves and a glutton (is that the collective noun?) of scones. Yum!
If you come all the way to Dubai it is worth making the effort to scale the largest man-made structure. Just don’t be surprised a few months after this article is posted if Abu Dhabi won’t have trumped Dubai with their very own Burj.
Reservations for “Tea at the top” can be made through the Atmosphere website, who kindly invited Urban Travel Blog to test out its infusions.