The city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is home to the tallest building in the world. But do you know all the facts about Burj Khalifa?
Towering over all the other skyscrapers in the city of Dubai, the Burj Khalifa is a staggering sight, to say the least.
It currently (in 2020) holds the world record of being the tallest building in the world, and has been since its opening in 2010.
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about Burj Khalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world.
Interesting facts about Burj Khalifa
1. How tall is Burj Khalifa?
Construction of Burj Khalifa started back in 2004 and it took more than 6 years before the building was finalized.
The primary structure, which is made out of reinforced concrete, was ready by 2009. The official opening of Burj Khalifa took place in April 2010.
There are a total of 154 floors, excluding 9 floors reserved for maintenance. So the total floor count is actually 163.
Even though the structure is 828 meters (2,717 ft) high (829.8 meters or 2,722 feet with the tip included), the top floor is located at a height of 584.5 meters (1,918 ft).
The top floor isn’t open to the public though, and the observation deck that tourists can visit is found at a height of 555.7 meters (1,823 ft).
2. Burj Khalifa is unlike any other building in the world
Until now, Burj Khalifa doesn’t compare to any other building in the world. It holds the record of the tallest freestanding building in the world and beats the second tallest building, the Shanghai Tower, with a staggering 196 meters (644 ft).
An interesting fact about Burj Khalifa: It’s also about exactly twice as high as the second and third highest buildings in Dubai, Marina 101 (completed in 2017) and the Princess Tower (completed in 2015).
3. How did Burj Khalifa get its name?
Burj is the Arabic word for tower, so the name of the building is simply “The tower of the Khalif.”
But did you know the original name of the building was actually “Burj Dubai,” which would then mean “The Tower of Dubai?”
Apparently, the original Emaar developers assigned to the project ran into some money issues. So much that they needed the help of “Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan” who is still currently the president of the United Arab Emirates (and has been since 2004).
As a token of respect, they allowed the name to be changed from Burj Dubai to Burj Khalifa.
4. Why was the Burj Khalifa built?
The Burj Khalifa is located in the Downtown area of Dubai. This consists of multiple large-scale and mixed-use structures and home to multiple popular landmarks in the city of Dubai.
This area was created by the government of the United Arab Emirates to give Dubai international recognition.
It’s also in an effort to diversify from being an oil-based economy to an economy that is able to attract worldwide tourists and shoppers.
Downtown Dubai occupies an area of about 2 square kilometers and the estimated cost so far is well over $20 billion.
The Burj Khalifa is the masterpiece of this entire project.
5. Who designed Burj Khalifa?
The design was done by Adrian Smith, of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. That’s a Chicago-based architectural and engineering firm that was founded back in 1936. They currently have offices all over the world, including one in Dubai.
The interesting fact is that this firm also designed the “Willis Tower” in Chicago and the “One World Trade Center” in New York.
It’s fair to say that this is one of the most significant architectural companies in the world. They have been involved in thousands of projects in over 50 countries all across the globe.
6. Who built the Burj Khalifa?
The construction was done by companies from South-Korea (Samsung C&T), Belgium (BESIX) and the United Arab Emirates (Arabtec).
The UK based Hyder Consulting was the engineer on record. This means that this company was jointly responsible for the outcome of the construction, as this is the law in UAE.
The main contractor, Samsung C&T of South Korea, has also been involved in the construction of two other famous buildings. One is the world-famous Petronas Twin Tower in Kuala Lumpur, and the other is the Taipei 101 building.
Interesting fact about Burj Khalifa: The contractor in charge of building Burj Khalifa also built Taipei 101, which was the tallest building from 2004 until Burj Khalifa opened its doors in 2010. So they basically beat their own record.
One thing is sure: Those with fear of heights shouldn’t have been involved in the construction of Burj Khalifa!
7. Not the highest observation deck
If you aren’t afraid of heights, then you can visit the Burj Khalifa observation deck to get some amazing views.
When Burj Khalifa first opened in 2010, the observation deck, which was fittingly called “at the top,” opened its doors at the 124th level. It was located at an altitude of 452 m (1,483 ft) which made it the highest observation deck in the world.
That didn’t last long though because in December 2011 it was surpassed by an observation deck called “Cloud Top 488” (488 m or 1,601 ft) in the Canton Tower in Guangzhou, China.
In October 2014, Burj Khalifa opened the 148th-floor SKY level at 555 m (1,821 ft). This allowed it to regain the title of the highest observation deck in the world.
To no effect…
The current highest observation deck can be found in the Shanghai Tower at a height of 561 meters (1,840 ft).
Regardless, the views you get from the observation deck of Burj Khalifa are simply amazing!
More interesting facts about Burj Khalifa
8. The Burj Khalifa is often used for spectacular pyrotechnic shows. This also happened during the opening back in 2010 and more recently during the New Year celebration of 2020.
9. The attempt to turn downtown Dubai into an internationally recognized attraction for tourists has seemingly worked. The malls, condominiums, and hotels built around the landmarks located in Downtown Dubai have all generated huge profits.
10. Burj Khalifa holds the record of the tallest structure ever built. The previous record was held by the Warsaw Radio Mast which was 646.38 meters (2,120.7 ft) high. We say “was” because this structure collapsed back in August of 1991.
11. Unsurprisingly, Burj Khalifa is also the building with the most floors in the world. It contains 163 floors in total.
12. The design is based on Islamic architecture. A building on a smaller scale that reflects this type of design is the Great Mosque of Samarra, a 9th-century mosque located in Iraq.
13. Burj Khalifa doesn’t only have the highest elevator installation, it also has the longest traveling distance elevators transporting you up to 504 meters (1,654 ft) in the air. The elevator does this at a dazzling speed of 60 kilometers per hour!
14. The construction of Burj Khalifa was a massive undertaking. As much as 12,000 workers, ranging from simple construction workers to engineers worked on the site every day.
15. It’s estimated that all the workers clocked a total of 22 million hours in total. Unfortunately, most of the workers came from South-Asia and earned very little. This even resulted in riots that temporarily halted the construction.
16. Alain Robert, AKA the French Spiderman, was the first person to climb Burj Khalifa. It took him over 6 hours to reach the top.
17. The highest base jump in the world can only be done from the tallest building in the world. And as you guessed, it has been done. French base jumpers Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet had the honor to be the first to take the leap off the top of the antenna of Burj Khalifa on April 21st, 2014. Watch the amazing footage below:
18. The two Frenchmen weren’t the first to actually jump off Burj Khalifa, two other attempts have been done but not from the actual top of the building. Both attempts were done from 650 (2,130 ft) and 672 meters (2,205 ft).
19. Dubai borrowed an amazing $80 billion in order to fund projects in the city. During the financial crisis around 2007 up until 2010, Dubai was severely hit and a lot of buildings became ghost towers as they were abandoned by broke contractors and developers.
20. Want to go out for the night in Dubai? Then you can do so in Burj Khalifa as it has the world’s highest restaurant and nightclub which are located on the 122nd and 144th floor respectively.
21. A building like this needs a lot of concrete. In total, over 330,000 cubic meters of concrete were used for the construction of Burj Khalifa. That’s about the weight of 100,000 elephants combined!
22. Amazingly enough, there are 163 floors of Burj Khalifa located above ground level, but only one single floor below ground level.
23. It can be extremely hot in Dubai. That’s why the outer layer of Burj Dubai is extremely important. It consists out of 26,000 glass panels that were all cut by hand to ensure it can withstand sweltering temperatures.
24. Concrete isn’t the only material that was heavily used. The amount of aluminum used is reportedly the equivalent of five A380 aircraft.
25. The tower itself cost a whopping $1 billion, while the entire project cost over $1.5 billion.
26. The airconditioning system of Burj Khalifa is enormous. It doesn’t just draw air from the top floors (since that cooler than on the lower floors), it also uses a condensation collection system that irrigates the collected water to a nearby park. After all, Dubai is a pretty dry place.
27. There are a total of 24,348 windows in Burj Khalifa, totaling 120,000 square meters (1,290,000 sq ft). That’s a lot of windows to clean, don’t you think? In optimal conditions, it would take a crew 3 to 4 months to clean all of those!
28. Giorgio Armani has a hotel in Milan, and he also has a hotel in Burj Khalifa. It doesn’t have a reception and isn’t the highest hotel in the world as it’s located in the lowest area of the building.
29. The Islamic Architecture uses the model of the “Spider Lily,” a desert flower that is found frequently in the United Arab Emirates. You can see its resemblance when you look at Burj Khalifa from the top.
30. The United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country and therefore follows the Ramadan period. These rules are strictly enforced. So much that for the people living above floor 80, the Ramadan period lasts 2 minutes longer and for those living above floor 150 it even lasts 3 minutes longer. The reason? The sun can still be seen by people living higher.
31. The total weight of the building is approximately 450 million kilos. This is an approximate number and the foundation is built to support this amount of weight.
32. Want to own an apartment or an office space in Burj Khalifa? Better get some serious money together! Apartments in the Armani residences have sold up to $37,500 per square meter and office spaces have sold upwards of $37,500 per square meter.
33. Because of the financial crisis, it took a very long time before sales were made of apartments and office spaces. Out of 900 apartments in the tower, 825 were reportedly still vacant in the year the tower opened. Luckily things picked up in the years after and about 80% were sold by 2012.
34. If you’re an art lover, then you’ll love Burj Khalifa. It houses more than 1,000 art pieces, many who have been specifically commissioned for the building.
35. There are a total of 8 escalators inside the Burj Khalifa. But don’t worry, the chances of you having to use them because of malfunctioning elevators are slim as there are 57 of those.
36. Talking about elevators, here’s a fun fact about Burj Khalifa. It has one of the fastest elevators in the world that moves at 10 meters per second. This means it takes only a minute to go from the ground floor to the observation deck on floor 148.
37. Did you ever wonder what the water surrounding the Burj Khalifa is all about? That’s called the “Dubai Fountain,” an artificial lake in Downtown Dubai. It’s illuminated by 6,600 lights and is able to shoot water up in the air 150 meters high (500 ft).
38. The Dubai fountain is the largest performing fountain in the world as it’s 270 m (900 ft) long. It was created by “WET.” This Los Angeles based company also created the Belaggio Hotel lake in Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States.
39. The Dubai Fountain is so big that you can actually sail on it in traditional wooden boats called “Abra boats.” These are also the boats used to get people across the Dubai Creek.
40. In one of the “Mission Impossible” movies, Tom Cruise actually climbed Burj Khalifa. The movie came out in 2011 and is called “Ghost Protocol.” It features stunning views of both the tower and Dubai.
41. A less favorable faith for Burj Khalifa happened in the movie Independence Day: Resurgence, in which it was thrown into London by aliens along with multiple other structures.
42. If you would put all the pieces of Burj Khalifa together, you would be able to reach a quarter around the entire earth.
43. We would assume that the price of real estate increases the higher you go. One reason is that on the lower floors, the temperature can be 15 degrees higher than on the top floors.
44. The tip of the Burj Khalifa is made of more than 4000 tons of steel and on clear days, it can be seen from over 95 kilometers (60 mi) away!
45. If you want to learn all about the engineering side of building Burj Khalifa, then there is good news. It has been featured in some documentaries discussing this topic such as Big, Bigger, Biggest and Mega Builders.
46. The creators of the Burj Khalifa took their ambition to create the tallest structure in the world serious. Up until 2010, the year the tower opened, nobody knew exactly how high the building would be.
47. Believe it or not, but Burj Khalifa will soon lose its record as being the tallest building in the world. At the moment, the construction of the “Jeddah Tower”, previously known as the “Kingdom Tower” is underway. This will be the first building ever that will be over 1 kilometer (!) (3,281 ft) high.
This tower will be located on the north side of Jeddah, Saudi-Arabia. When exactly construction will be finalized is uncertain but estimated in 2022. Until then, Burj Khalifa will remain the tallest building in the world.
48. We can only hope that the Jeddah Tower will have the same spectacular launch ceremony as Burj Khalifa had. Apart from 10,000 fireworks that were set off from the sides of the building, there are 868 stroboscope lights integrated into the facade and spire of the tower to create one amazing light show.
This concludes our ultimate list of facts about Burj Khalifa. As you surely know by now, the tallest building in the world (at the moment) is a pretty remarkable sight. If you know some more facts about this amazing architectural and engineering feat, please let us know and we’ll add it to the list asap!