By Zainab Fattah www.businessweek.com
Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) — Burj Khalifia, the world’s tallest tower, will reopen on Feb. 14 following the closure of its 124th- floor observation deck, according to ticket sellers for the Dubai attraction.
Ambulances were sent to the tower on Feb. 6 to treat 12 people who had been stranded in a stalled elevator and “dozens” of others who had been trapped on the observation platform, according to Fahad Al Zarouni, deputy director of operations at Dubai’s Center for Ambulance Services. None were hospitalized.
Two days after the incident, developer Emaar Properties PJSC said in a statement that the observation deck had been shut for maintenance due to “technical issues” involving power supply. The “At the Top” platform is the only part of Burj Khalifa in use so far, following its official opening on Jan. 4. Emaar, 31 percent owned by Dubai’s government, didn’t mention the stalled elevator or stranded visitors in its statement.
People on the observation deck heard what sounded like a small explosion and saw dust that looked like smoke seeping through the elevator doors, the Associated Press reported yesterday, citing interviews with visitors. Rescue crews had to pry open the doors of the elevator after it became stuck for about 45 minutes between floors and everyone was eventually taken down uninjured in a freight elevator, AP said.
Emaar has issued no further statement about the closures. An external spokeswoman who declined to be named, citing company policy, said today that the developer has nothing to add at this time. The company hasn’t given a possible reopening date or said whether the fault would delay the opening of other parts of the building including the a hotel designed by Giorgio Armani.
Burj Khalifa is 828 meters (2,717 feet) high and cost $1.5 billion to build. The tower takes its name from Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, ruler of neighboring Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates. The structure, which includes 37 floors of office space, 1,044 apartments and 160 hotel rooms is being opened in stages.
The elevators are provided by United Technologies Corp.’s Otis unit. One of them has the world’s longest travel distance at 504 meters and the double-deck cars have the fastest travel time at 10 meters a second, according to the company’s Web site.
Danielle Grove, a 24-year-old German tourist turned away from the tower today, said she plans to return on the 14th.
“I’m glad we will be still here when it reopens,” she said, standing by the white counters bearing the observation deck’s “At the Top” logo. “This could’ve happened in Germany or anywhere else. It doesn’t scare me because I don’t think it was serious and obviously no one was hurt.”
Latifa Al Otaibi was less relaxed. “That is so scary,” she said after accompanying two teenaged sons to the tower for a refund. Her son Abdul Aziz said he was disappointed to hear the tower won’t open until after the family leaves and said he thought the elevator is “much safer” than being on an airplane.
A notice on the Web site for the observation deck says ticket sales “are temporarily on hold due to maintenance at the attraction.”