By Rania Moussly, Staff Reporter www.gulfnews.com
Dubai: Crowds of people gathered on the Dubai Mall Boulevard faced great disappointment as rumours circulated Alain Robert, the French Spiderman, would not climb Burj Khalifa due to windy conditions.
Yet at 6.10pm on Monday evening Robert took his first foothold on the world’s tallest tower with one aim — to reach the top.
Half an hour later VIPs and dignitaries took their seats at Burj Island Park in downtown Dubai for the opening ceremony of the tenth annual Education Without Borders (EWB) conference as Robert reached nearly halfway up the tower and stopped for the first of three rests.
Almost half an hour later he resumed his ascent in darkness under spotlight as the night turned chilly and the wind increased.
Robert’s climb of the 828 metre tower was to inspire over 2,000 students who descended on Dubai on Monday for the three day EWB conference being hosted by the Higher Colleges of Technology.
Follow your heart
“I’m doing this to show the students there is no edge or borders and to inspire people to break the mould and not limit themselves,” said Robert. “Part of my message is not only to follow your heart but try to innovate in all things you do.”
Following his heart is exactly what led Robert to the tip of the world’s tallest building. It is climbing buildings that brings him joy.
“To live we don’t need much, just a roof over our heads some food and drink and that’s it… everything else is superficial,” said Robert. “I climb because I need to find something I enjoy in life and I enjoy climbing buildings.
“I’ve climbed the second, third and fourth tallest buildings. All that is missing is Burj Khalifa.”
A little nervous about the wind conditions he would face during his climb, Robert had no expectations other than reaching the summit of the Burj Khalifa.
“It seems there will be a little challenge because today is a windy day and it will make things a bit more difficult,” Robert told Gulf News hours before his ascent.
“It might be a little freezing as I’ll reach the top around midnight so my climb will partly be in darkness.”
However, as he neared his second rest after 90 minutes of climbing, Robert was ahead of schedule.
Robert finally reached the summit of Burj Khalifa at 12.30am on Tuesday, in a climb spanning a little more than 6 hours, to the cheer of many spectators waiting patiently below.