|Dubai hopes the 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa will be a major tourist attraction. Its observation deck had been closed after an elevator malfunctioned.
(Kamran Jebreili/File/Associated Press/File 2010)
Observation deck reopens atop world’s tallest tower
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The observation deck of the world’s tallest skyscraper reopened yesterday in Dubai, two months after an elevator malfunction that left visitors trapped more than 120 stories above the ground forced it to close.
Dozens of tourists were lining up for tickets to take an elevator to the 124th floor of the half-mile-high Burj Khalifa, where the tower’s observation deck is located.
The deck was shut in February after an elevator packed with visitors got stuck between floors for 45 minutes before rescuers dropped a ladder into the shaft so those inside could crawl out.
Two months later, it is still unclear what caused the elevator to fail.
The accident proved a major embarrassment for Dubai, whose rulers hope the Burj Khalifa, which officially opened in January, will be a major tourist attraction and buoy the Gulf city-state as it struggles to revive its image as a cutting-edge Arab metropolis amid nagging questions about its financial health.
At 2,717 feet, the tapering, silvery tower ranks as not only the world’s highest skyscraper, but also the tallest freestanding structure in the world.
Its developer, Emaar Properties, has not officially announced the observation deck’s reopening. The firm handling Emaar’s public relations did not immediately respond to calls.
The Burj Khalifa tower rises more than 160 stories, though the exact number of floors is not known. The observation deck is mostly enclosed, but it includes an outdoor terrace bordered by guardrails and is located about two-thirds of the way up.
Two elevators whisk people to the observation deck daily, running every half hour from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Most visitors who paid the $27 for a three-minute ride to the deck, which boasts a view of Dubai’s glimmering skyline, the sprawling desert, and the emirate’s Gulf shore, either did not know about February’s elevator malfunction or did not mind the ride’s bumpy start.
“We feel fortunate to have gone up,’’ said Sheetal Gulati, a tourist from the United Kingdom who was on a three-day trip to Dubai. “The view is very nice, and worth seeing.’’
Emaar, the state-linked company that owns the tower, had little to say about February’s accident.
The company said nothing about an elevator malfunction at the time of the accident and did not provide details of any repairs or maintenance work on the elevators before the viewing deck reopened.
Burj Khalifa was designed by Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which has a long track record engineering some of the world’s tallest buildings, including Chicago’s Willis Tower, the tallest in the United States, formerly known as the Sears Tower.
The observation deck was the only part of the tower that opened in January. Work continues on the rest of the building’s interior, and the first tenants are scheduled to move in soon.