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On top of the World

Why Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is Number 1 on everyone’s bucket list

Dubai boasts the planet’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa. Why should you visit the UAE to check it out?

By Karen Pasquali Jones

Tom Cruise quite literally hung out there. Will Smith climbed the stairs of all 163 floors for his cardio workout and Emirates Airline took advertising to new heights by filming an air hostess in full uniform perched on its spire, 2,722ft high. 

Now Dubai’s Burj Khalifa has been named the world’s travel hot spot as travelers admit they can’t wait to get to the top of the tallest building on the planet. 

Inspired by a flower that grows in the parched deserts of Dubai known locally as the spider lily, the Vertical City has bloomed in popularity during a year when international travel has been mainly off limits. 

And it’s no wonder. Home to the swanky Armani Hotel, with its minimalist chic décor, and the world’s highest restaurant, the list of the Burj Khalifa’s superlative achievements is just as impressive as the globe’s tallest freestanding structure.

Not only is the three-second, ear-popping ascent to At.mosphere on the 122nd floor, in – of course – the world’s longest elevator, as thrilling as any Disney ride, but there’s those panoramic views of the sky-piercing city, desert and Arabian Sea far below to savour. 

Step out on the highest outdoor observation deck on earth, At The Top, at 1820ft, wonder how they clean the 28,261 glass panels on the 211 floors (spoiler alert: it takes four months) and look down on the dancing Dubai Fountain. 

And just think – instead of reading a travel guide before heading to the Middle East’s most glamorous emirate, you can simply watch Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and marvel at Tom Cruise’s sky-high performance, which brought traffic to a standstill as he insisted on doing his own stunts clinging to the outside of the building.

While the ferocious sand storm in the movie is the stuff of Hollywood studios and CGI, hazy weather can sometimes spoil the view (though it’s always been amazingly clear every time we’ve been up there). 

For those with a head for heights, visit the three observation decks – on levels 124, and 125 before stepping out to the terrace on the 148th floor, then indulge in a High Tea with the most incredible view back at the iconic At.mosphere.   

Tuck into delicate finger sandwiches, English scones, chicken ballotine or catch of the day washed down with a glass of fizz while admiring arguable the finest view anywhere on earth.

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Online searches for tickets to visit the Burj Khalifa currently stand at number one in the world – at 10,000 a month, which is more than the Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, and Empire State Building. 

The top 10 bucket list travel experiences 2021, according to Unforgettable Travel are in order: Burj Khalifa, sail around the Statue of Liberty, in New York,  cruise down the Nile in Egypt, Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, experience the Las Vegas Strip, Cross the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Enjoy the views from the top of the Empire State Building, visit the Louvre Museum in Paris and experience the wonder of Rome’s Colosseum.


MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean, P&O Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises and Tui Cruises all operate round-trip Dubai cruise itineraries for the Middle East cruise season which runs from November to March. 

Dubai Abu Dhabi & Qatar

Duration: 7 nights
Where: Dubai, UAE | Abu Dhabi, UAE | Sir Bani Was Island, UAE | Dammam, Saudi Arabia | Doha, Qatar | Dubai, UAE
Ship: MSC World Europa
Price: From $618 pp

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Published 03.02.22