By Parag Deulgaonkar

Mahi Golchin-Depala on what it’s like to have friends drop by and the secret Dubai Mall passageway

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa

One year ago when Burj Khalifa launched as the world’s tallest tower, at over 828 metres (2,716.5 feet) and more than 160 stories, it rose like a phoenix from among the ashes of a global economic burnout.

While property prices around the world and in the UAE took a beating, the fountains in front of the iconic structure seemed to drench the imagination of visitors with strange ideas of who actually lived in the Burj Khalifa.

Were they only royals? Were they magnates and billionaires whose identities would never be revealed? Were the houses all empty?

As we approached the tower, we were stopped at the entrance where a guard verified our details, the car plate number and allowed us access. The valet – a service offered complementary to all residents and guests – then takes over.

As we walk through the huge, impressive lobby, marked by a unique drum-cymbal decor, we get past the glass doors, which can be opened only with an access card, and take the lift to the 76nd floor. There one has to change lifts to go higher.

Now, for the first time, we take you inside two of the homes at the Burj Khalifa.

Emirates 24|7 met with two residents – one living on the 98th floor and one on the 92th. While one is owner, one rents.

Both the residents this website spoke to were women and while they were understandably guarded about opening their very private homes and lives to the media, they genuinely thrilled about living at one of the most exclusive addresses in the world.

Mahi Golchin-Depala is Group Communications Director,
Gulf Film and Grand Cinemas, and Managing Director, Phars Film. She is of Iranian nationality. She owns a three-bedroom apartment on the 98th floor. She also owns an Armani apartment which gives her exclusive access to the facilities at the Armani Hotel. Here are excerpts from an interview with her.

Why did you buy an apartment in Burj Khalifa?

I was born and grew up in Dubai. It’s my home and I wanted to stay in Burj Khalifa, as it is a unique building in the world. The first time we (my husband and I) came here we felt things were a bit complicated. The second time, it felt a less complicated and the third time, we said, ‘let’s live here’. We do need to switch lifts to reach our apartments since we stay on the 98th floor. Although it is not something one does regularly, but one gets used to it after a time. The view from our apartment is breathtaking!

Did you buy your apartment from Emaar or from the secondary market?

It was from the secondary market in 2008. My father too has invested in a number of apartment, we did buy some at a premium. We have been advised by different agents not to sell, but to rent. They expect full occupancy by 2013.

If offered Will you consider staying in a signature villa in Dubai or Burj Khalifa?

Although we currently rent a villa on the Palm, we will definitely will opt to stay in Burj Khalifa. There are a lot of benefits and facilities here that you can’t find elsewhere. The address itself is unique; the whole environment is amazing. You have a direct access to Dubai Mall — a passageway, which has a picture gallery, depicting the various construction stages of Burj Khalifa.

Has Emaar set up an owners’ association?

They are in the process of setting up an owners’ association and we have been told that they eventually will.

Will you sell your unit if are offered a premium price?

Absolutely. We own a number of apartments on different floors. We are ready to sell only if we get a premium.

How do people respond when you tell them your address?

The address itself is catchy. When I call someone and tell them where I want the thins to be delivered, they seem to be a bit lost, pause for moment and then direct us or our calls to their managers.

How many famous people have you seen?

Giorgio Armani and some members of the royal families of the UAE. I did read Shilpa Shetty bought an apartment and so who knows; one day I could bump into some of the Bollywood stars.

How do you rate the service in the building?

The facilities and services here are impeccable. There is an indoor and outdoor pool, a yoga room, a massage room, and gym for each set of floors. One of the amazing things is that you can have access to the Armani Hotel and its facilities. The Armani spa is amazing. And as residents, we don’t have to pay for anything.

Do your friends find it quite inconvenient to visit your place due to the high security in the tower?

If someone does drop in without informing us, all they have to do is to inform the Concierge, who then contact us. As soon as we give them the go ahead, they are allowed in. It doesn’t take more than a minute. There is security, but not so much to be a hassle.

Would you ever buy an office here?

Well, at some point of time, we may buy an office on the higher floors.

Have you seen the apartments with balconies?

We definitely are going to see them. We have been told there are only six apartments with balconies with a Jacuzzi there. If offered at a right price, we may consider buying one.