Burj Khalifa / Khalifa Tower, Dubai

The Khalifa Tower, the tallest building in the world, was renamed the Burj Khalifa before it opened.

You’ll need to book your trip up the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world at least 48 hours before you plan to go. If you just turn up on the day, you may not get a free slot until 9pm at night or later.

We booked for a Friday at 11.30am, having left Al Ain at 9.15am to ensure we got there on time.

We handed over our tickets at 11.20 which gave us time to look at the very impressive interactive displays before we went the security queue to enter the Burj Khalifa itself.

We came out again at 12.45pm – nearly an hour and a half later. You may take a little less time than this.

Here is a video which is spread over 3 large screens you’ll see as you queue for the lift to ascend to the 130th floor – which takes all of 60 seconds. I swallowed hard about 10 times to ease the pressure on my ears as we flew up at somewhere approaching the speed of sound. Okay, maybe not quite that fast.

The video lasts about 3 minutes, so this film I captured shows about half of it to give you a flavour. I thought it was beautifully put together…

This is a movie of the digital telescopes you can use at the top: they are free to play with, though it says on a ground floor sign that you have to pay…

Here are some photos.

An inspiring message on the wall as you wait to enter the Burj Khalifa…

wall-quote

The 4 video screens as you queue for the elevator…

video-screens

The digital telescopes you can use for free…

digital-telescopes

The Dubai Mall from above…

Dubai-Mall-from-above

The amazing Dubai Fountain…

Dubai-Fountain-from-above

Looking south east (I think!)…

Looking-south-east

We pointed out to the boys that slightly to the right of centre in this next photo is where we love to go swimming when we come to Dubai, on the public beach at Jumeirah…

Beach

This one shows 2 of the most famous hotels in Dubai: the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and the Burj Al Arab Hotel. The Atlantis Hotel is behind these, but hidden by the haze…

Burj Al Arab

As you enter the building you and your family will be photographed against a green screen. At the top, you’ll be asked if you want photos taken of you with the landscape behind. At the end of the tour you’ll be offered these photos for a price higher than we were willing to pay! You can also get the images on a memory stick too (ideal if you want to email them to friends and family back home). I sneaked a snap of the framed ‘green screen’ shot with evening panorama added behind, in a leather-effect frame/folder. The image is a bit distorted as I took it at a slight angle…

DSCF4630_2.JPG

What I didn’t photograph are some of the excellent mulitmedia displays, miniature models used for the wind tunnels, and the short but excellent video interviews with people who worked on this once-in-a-lifetime project for the architects and builders.

All in all, a fab trip, worth the money.

Dubai Aquarium, Dubai Mall

This is a quick post I’ll add to one day!…

In the Dubai Mall, not only is there the enormous aquarium, but you can go behind it to see sea creatures and penguins, and have some great close encounters!

Your children will probably be as amazed by these archer fish as we were… 

And we could pick up the horse shoe crabs and feel their wiggly ‘feet’!

This is a very short video of the garden eels in one tank…

Dubai Fountain

Dubai Fountain

The Dubai Fountain is a magnificent fountain display which lasts for about 3 minutes and takes place every half hour from about 4pm at weekends (Thursday to Saturday) and from 6pm during the week (Sunday to Wednesday), continuing until late at night: 10 or 11pm. It is best enjoyed after nightfall.

On the right you can see the sign in the Dubai Mall with the schedule, a photo of the display, and my reflection!

I bumped into Rob, the general manager at the Lulu Hypermarket in Al Ain, a couple of weeks ago, while I was shopping there and we had a great chat. He told me that recently one of his sons and his girlfriend had been over from the UK to visit. So one night Rob booked a table for the 3 of them at a Lebanese restaurant next to the large manmade lake where the fountain is situated. But he didn’t tell them about the upcoming display! So at 8pm the fountain came to life, giving them a delightful surprise as they sat with their drinks, ready to order their food. And they were treated to further displays during the rest of their time there.

Next to the lake is the Khalifa Tower, the largest structure in the world. Here’s a photo I took at 7.30pm one evening…

Khalifa Tower

…and the Lebanese restaurant must be on the left in this photo…

Dubai Mall promenade

This is what the fountains look like from the 140th floor of the Burj Khalifa when we went up there on a different trip to Dubai…

Dubai-Fountain-from-above

…and you can get an idea of just how many hundreds of jets there must be in the fountain. By the way, the outdoor restaurants we have sat at are on the left side, just outside the Mall. See another article for more on the Mall, and the one on the Burj Khalifa At The Top tour for more photos from up high.

Every half hour features a different song, each with its own unique fountain dance. Some music is Arabic, and some is Western music.

This video I took features music by Sarah Brightman…

This one features Western music, starts slowly, then explodes into life after one minute…

This video I took a different night has Arabic music…

 

This final video was taken during the day in October. My family and I were sitting outside at 1pm, about to order lunch at a lovely Italian restaurant, when the fountain bursts into life. Our waiter told us that he has worked at the restaurant for 18 months and this was the first time he had ever seen the fountains go off during the day. They went off again half an hour later with an Arabic song, but I didn’t bother filming that. So here’s a video of that first daytime show, featuring the theme music by Elmer Bernstein from the film The Magnificent Seven…

I hope you and your family get as much enjoyment from these displays when you see them live as we have!

Where to buy English books

There are two main bookshops for English speakers in Al Ain:

  • Magrudy’s in Bawadi Mall
  • Books Plus in the Al Jimi Mall

Magrudy’s is the biggest bookshop with an excellent selection. You will be offered a loyalty card which will enable you at times to get up to 25% discount off books and other goods. The very helpful staff there can do you any book from the UK or US at a price not much higher than you would buy back home. You will just have to wait three weeks to get the book, and they will text message you when the book arrives.

Books Plus has a much smaller selection, but it still has some excellent choices.

The biggest bookshop in Dubai is called Kinokuniya in the Dubai Mall which has 500,000 titles. You can e-mail them a list of any books you are looking for and they will e-mail you back to tell you which ones they have in stock and at what price. Posting four books to you costs just 24 dirhams which is less than £5. They cannot take credit card numbers over the phone, so you have to do a bank transfer and e-mailed them a scan of the bank transfer docket. Then your books will be sent to you by Federal Express. 

FedEx won’t deliver to a PO Box: they’ll deliver to your home: the deliveryman will ring you to get directions if he can’t find your address on a map.