By Carol Huang

DUBAI // The Burj Khalifa has unveiled two gold-dispensing ATMs, the first of several such machines that will begin selling gold bars in Dubai during the next few weeks.

New vending machines dispense gold bars from the 124th-floor observation deck and gift shop of the world's tallest building.
New vending machines dispense gold bars from the 124th-floor observation deck and gift shop of the world's tallest building.

One of the ATMs is housed on the 124th floor of the building, the At The Top observation deck; the other is in the souvenir shop on the ground floor.

Gold fans can purchase as little as 2.5 grams of the precious metal up to as much as 1 ounce.

A 2.5 gram bar costs Dh540 while a 1 ounce bar – the equivalent of 28 grams – could be bought for D5,645.

These prices compare to Dh435 for 2.5 grams and Dh 4,874 for an ounce of gold on the international gold market.

The price of the gold sold in the machines will fluctuate to represent the spot price of gold.

Other machines could soon open at Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates, the InterContinental Hotel at Festival City, and the Atlantis hotel.

The UAE is now home to six Gold to Go vending machines; five call Dubai home and one is open for business at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The machine in the capital opened in May last year and sold out on its first day of operation.

At least 300 more of the ATMs will be rolled out in the Middle East and North Africa during the next two years, said Thomas Geissler, the chief of Ex Oriente Lux, the company that makes the machines. The firm markets it wares most heavily in the Middle East and North Africa, India and the US.

“You can buy a souvenir at market price. It’s a good deal for everybody,” he said.

In a region that has long treasured the precious metal, the company hopes to tap into its popularity.

The price of gold rose 26 per cent last year amid concerns about the US dollar and other currencies. Anagha Kulkarni, 41, a housewife visiting the Emirates from India, excitedly explained the vending machine to family members back home yesterday during a telephone call, and told them she planned to buy a bar.

At The Top offers other unique – though less pricy – keepsakes, including a water bottle adorned with Swarovski crystals and a limited-edition bolt used in the construction of the Burj Khalifa.

Most tourists, however, buy T-shirts and mugs, said an At The Top sales associate.

“I prefer things that you can use,” said Laetitia Muth, 34, a French tourist who was browsing the T-shirts in the shop.

Another popular item is a miniature model of the Burj Khalifa, available in gold and silver, said the associate. “Tourists usually prefer the silver,” she said.