THE Burj Khalifa in Dubai, described as a vertical city, is the world’s tallest building. This architectural and engineering tour de force rises gracefully from the desert, an extraordinary merger of art, engineering and painstaking craftsmanship.

So it came as a marvellous surprise that getting to the Observation Deck on the 124th floor was as easy, indeed faster, as going up a five-storey building.

As with everything in Dubai, it is all about efficiency and miro-management.

Welcoming hosts greet you at every point from the moment you enter the vast entry of the building. They guide you serenely along 65 metres of travelator past a multi-media presentation chronicling Dubai’s exotic history and the fascinating story of the building of Burj Khalifa.

The anticipation begins right there.

Once inside the lift with yet another friendly host, the button is pressed, the space darkens, music surrounds and stars burst from the ceiling. It’s magical.

Before you realise you have left the ground, you are more than 100 storeys high, the only indication you have moved, a little popping of the ears.

The elevator travels at 10m per second, yet all you are really aware of is the music and the starbursts.

As the elevator doors open to the Observation Deck you are greeted with floor-to-ceiling glass walls and clear 360-degree views of the city, desert and ocean.

It’s giddying, surreal and more than a little tempting to ask: “Have we arrived in heaven?”

Walking the perimeter of the Observation Deck with the sweeping views is like being on top of the world. Sky scrapers below look like leggo blocks, the gliding sky-train and moving cars are mere children’s toys. The desert stretches broodingly into the mists of the horizon.

Special telescopes provide virtual time-travel visions and close-up real-time views as well as the past and the future, by day and by night.

At 828m, the Burj Khalifa has 160 liveable levels, the most of any building in the world.

The tower was inaugurated on January 4, 2010, to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the Accession Day of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum as the Ruler of Dubai.

The tower became the world’s tallest man-made structure just 1325 days after excavation work started in January 2004.

It utilised a record-breaking 330,000 cubic metres of concrete; 39,000 tonnes of steel reinforcement; 103,000sq m of glass; and 15,500sq m of embossed stainless steel. It took 22 million man hours to build.

With a total built-up area of 5.67 million square feet, Burj Khalifa features 1.85 million square feet of residential space and more than 300,000 square feet of prime office space.

That is in addition to the area occupied by the Armani Hotel Dubai and the Armani Residences.

The tower offers luxurious recreational and leisure facilities including four swimming pools, lounges for home owners and office owners, health and wellness facilities, a public observation deck and At.mosphere, the world’s highest fine dining restaurant at Level 122.

The Armani Hotel Dubai was opened in April, 2010 with a ribbon cutting ceremony by Giorgio Armani and Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties.

The hotel is home to eight unique dining experiences.

More than 1000 pieces of art by prominent international artists adorn the interiors of Burj Khalifa and Emaar Boulevard.

Many of the pieces have been commissioned by Emaar as a tribute to the spirit of global harmony.