By Jay B. Hilotin, Chief Reporter XPRESS

Dubai: When 32-year-old Alexander Gansel nervously proposed to 28-year-old Bianca Hohmann at At The Top on Tuesday, it had a ring of a 1,001 Nights tale – with a German twist.

Couple embrace atop the Burj Khalifa.Image Credit: xpress/pankaj sharma
Couple embrace atop the Burj Khalifa.Image Credit: xpress/pankaj sharma

“Bianca, das ist ein ganz besonderer moment und ich möchte dich fragen, ob du mich heiraten möchtest (Bianca, this is a very special moment and I’d like to ask if you will marry me),” Gansel said minutes after stepping onto the 124th floor observatory of Burj Khalifa.

Luckily for him, his sweetheart of five years said “Ja” [yes].

The couple, on a six-day tour of Dubai, were among the first visitors to the city’s newest tourist spot – about 3,000 people made it to the platform on Tuesday.

“The overwhelming feeling to be on the tallest building and being the first group on the observation platform was amazing,” said the engineer from the south-west German city of Kaiserslautern.

“It was all spontaneous.”

Hohmann, a banker, said: “Everything was right. It was a great moment.”

But not everything was right: Gansel had no ring for her. He later rushed to the Gold Souq in Deira and secretly bought her a diamond ring.

The couple capped the evening with a dinner at the Burj Al Arab, where he had the ring delivered with a bundle of roses while the pianist played a Sinatra tune.

“Just great. One could not have planned it better. Thank you, Dubai, for this great moment,” Gansel raved, adding they plan to tie the knot during summer or some time next year.

People from all walks of life – and from all continents – queued for a chance to be among the first to visit the tower’s view deck.

Tom Dempsey, Burj Khalifa’s General Manager, said the public response overwhelmed them. “Tickets were sold out on the first day… We’re targeting about one million visitors per year.”

The youngest visitor was two-month-old Owais Awan who was with his brother Omar, four, and their parents Saqib, 31 and Mariam, 27. The oldest was Sutin, 75, from Thailand, who came with his family.

American honeymooners David Cheng, 33, and his wife Lynne, 35, were also among the first-day visitors. “This is nothing like we’ve seen before,” said Cheng, a chemical engineer from California. “I’ve been to the top of Petronas Towers (Kuala Lumpur) and Hancock Tower (Chicago). Dubai is 10 times better than [Las] Vegas, minus the smoke and gambling.”

Wong, a Vietnamese-American dentist from San Francisco, said: “We’ve read about Dubai, but the actual visit is more fascinating. The views as a whole from At The Top are a lot more amazing than the World Trade Centre which I visited in 1999 and the Empire State Building [in USA].”

Wang Yinzhuang, Brussels-based bureau chief of Chinese CCTV in Europe who came to Dubai to cover the tower’s inauguration, said: “It’s amazing how fast they built this tallest tower in just six years. The European Union headquarters took 15 years to build, and it’s no more than 14 floors.”

Felipe Zuluaga, 30, from Medellin, Colombia, on a week-long visit to Dubai with fiancée Paula, said: “We couldn’t miss this chance to be At The Top for the world.”

Seventh heaven

More men could choose At The Top to propose. “Marriages are made in heaven and this is as close as you can get there,” said Mehul Kotecha, a wedding planner. Melanie Rovinta of Marriagement agrees. “If you want to make her feel on top of the world then At The Top is where you must seek her hand.”