By Martin Croucher

DUBAI // In the 23 months since it opened, the world’s tallest building has been a magnet for base jumpers and free climbers. Now, an extreme balancing artist wants to perform a death-defying handstand on its summit.

Balancing artist Eskil Ronningsbakken
Balancing artist Eskil Ronningsbakken

Eskil Ronningsbakken, a former circus performer from Norway, has asked the owners of the Burj Khalifa for permission to perform the stunt, which he hopes to be “contrary to all physical laws”.

He would set up a ladder, secured with rigging, at the spire of the Burj Khalifa, then balance on one hand at the top of it, his body pointing out at an angle away from the building.

“Why would I not want to do it?” he said. “This is how I live. This kind of performance is as natural to me as meeting in court is for a lawyer.”

If he gets the go-ahead, he would become the second daredevil to carry out a life-threatening stunt on the building.

Earlier this year, France’s self-proclaimed “Spiderman”, Alain Robert, climbed the height of the tower. He was granted permission on condition – grudgingly accepted – that he used safety harnesses.

Ronningsbakken is no more willing, but said he too would use a harness if he had to. “If use of safety is the only way to get the necessary permissions, then I will be open to discuss it,” he said. “But I don’t like the thought of it.

“People around the world commit mistakes and end up in accidents every day, even they have a safety system, a harness or a life vest. That’s mainly because they rely too much on external equipment, instead of using the natural tools they were born with.” More info