Explore The World’s Tallest Building In Google Street View

Burj Khalifa on Google Street View
Nicolas Lannuzel

At 2722 feet in height, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest building in the world and quite an impressive feat of modern engineering. Since its opening in 2010, the glass and metal spire has become an iconic structure, even managing to stand out in a city that is known for its over-the-top architecture. Most of us will probably never get an opportunity to see it in person, let alone step inside, but now, thanks to Google Street View, we can still explore the building in all of its glory.

Yesterday, Google added the Burj to the ever growing number of places that it has cataloged and put online as part of Street View. The building is the first ever skyscraper to make the cut and the first place in the Arab World to be added as well.

In order to capture the Burj for use in Street View, Google employees spent three days walking in and around the building while wearing the Trekker backpack. That device, which has been specially built for capturing places that the Street View cars can’t go, shoots 360° panoramic photos that are later incorporated into the system. In this case, it captured the view from the observation tower on the 124th floor as well as from the world’s highest swimming pool on the seventh floor, amongst various other locations throughout the building.

You can begin your exploration of the Burj by clicking here. But before you do, check out the video below that gives you a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at this amazing structure and the lengths Google had to go to capture it.

Video Of The Day: Fireworks Lighting Up The World’s Tallest Building In Dubai

Leave it to Dubai to ring in 2013 right. The city’s magnificent New Year’s Eve fireworks display illuminated the world’s tallest building, the iconic Burj Khalifa skyscraper, stretching more than 2,716 feet into the city sky. Sparks flew from the base all the way to the spire of the building as the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra performed in perfect synchronicity. It’s a spectacle fit for ushering in a new year.

Win A Trip To Dubai From Friendly Planet

Win a trip to Dubai from Friendly Planet!Tour operator Friendly Planet Travel is giving one lucky person, along with a guest, a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the legendary luxury and grandeur of Dubai. The company has launched its Be Dazzled by Dubai sweepstakes on its Facebook page, and entering couldn’t possibly be easier. All you have to do is “Like” the Friendly Planet page and fill out an online form with some basic contact information and you’ll be eligible to win. Additionally, when any of your Facebook friends register via your “like” you’ll receive an additional entry as well.

The winner of the six-day trip will be awarded quite the prize package. They’ll receive round-trip airfare for two aboard Emirates airline, four nights stay at the Fairmont Hotel, located in the city’s Financial District, daily breakfast buffets and guided tours of Dubai. Those tours will include a ride on a water taxi, a visit to the bustling souks, and excursions to the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, the Dubai Museum, which is the oldest existing building in the city, dating back to 1787. Visitors will also have plenty of free time to explore on their own, join an optional tour or simply relax in the luxury of their hotel. The tour is valued at nearly $5400 and promises to be an eye-opening experience to say the least.

The contest runs through November 18, so if you’ve ever dreamed of visiting Dubai, now is your chance.

[Photo credit: .EVO. from UAE via WikiMedia]

The malls of Dubai: Skiing, scuba diving, and shopping

Dubai Malls

Every country has its own culture of shopping. Italy has the pedigree, with worn estate leather goods from Tuscany and glittering catwalks fueling Milan’s couture. America boasts 5th Avenue, the biggest week in fashion, and the cookie-cutter malls of middle-America. Shopping in Paris is as elegant as it is expensive, where visiting the temples of Chanel, Dior, and Hermes is like a Hajj for fashionistas. Getting fitted for a suit on Savile Row in London is a gentlemanly apex, one that is best achieved while gently pulling on a cherry-wood pipe and commenting on cheeky matters from a pink-tinged page of the Financial Times.

In Dubai, The malls are king. Vast expanses of high end extravagance, these oases from the draping emirate heat are stocked with Gucci, Tom Ford, Louis Vuitton, and any other brand that peddles four-figure handbags to the jet set. Just as America brought the shopping mall to retail prominence, Dubai has perfected the art, blown it up, and put it all back together with megatons of glitter, pomp, and reckless luxury. But more so than brands and shine, the malls of Dubai also have other extraordinary features. A skating rink and a movie theater? That is so 20th century. How about scuba diving, snow skiing, and visiting the tallest building in the world? Welcome to the malls of Dubai.

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The Dubai Context
Dubai is a culture of shopping. From its historical role as a trading port, the city has grown out of the sand on the back of traders traveling from South Asia to the markets of Europe and beyond. With this came an understanding of the international ebb and flow of trade. It became a hub for the trading of gold, spices, and pearls. Many of Dubai’s souqs still operate as such, and wooden cargo ships from Bengal line Dubai Creek.

Dubai Malls

Still today, Dubai poses a dominating presence in international trade, and by 2013, little known Al Maktoum International Airport could become the busiest cargo airport in the world. With this sort of action, over time, any city will grow up. But a city like Dubai did so almost overnight. The malls are a symbol for this explosion of excess and success, however fleeting it may or may not someday be.

The Dubai Mall
At almost 12 million square feet (3.77 million square feet of retail space), Dubai Mall spreads out across downtown Dubai in the shadow of the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa. By total area, Dubai Mall is considered the largest mall in the world – a claim made all the more believable during long strolls through its massive never-ending corridors. With its size and elegant trappings, this is unmistakably THE mall of the Middle East and a temple to the newest religion of the region – shopping. This is where wealthy Emirati, Saudi, and Qatari women come to purchase the designer duds that remain cloaked under burqas. This is where the Middle-west meets the Middle-east.

dubai malls

The mall boasts twelve hundred shops, the tallest building in the world, and a massive aquarium filled with sharks, tropical fish, and corals. The Dubai Aquarium is great to look at, but why stop there? For scuba divers, a mall dive site may seem contrary to the spirit of exploration. But, after suiting up and hitting the tank, the unique experience will win over even the most pessimistic diving purists. Flanking a reef shark while, just meters away, robed shoppers grasp Fendi clutches is a surreal exercise in atypical diving. A dive in Dubai Mall costs roughly $170. For a much cheaper and dry option, check out the Aquarium tunnel and underwater zoo for $14.

“At the Top” is a spirited jaunt to the observation tour of the stratospheric Burj Khalifa. Access to the attraction is located on the lower ground level of the Dubai Mall, and it costs about $27. After checking in (making reservations is hypercritical during busy days), the world’s fastest elevator rockets patrons to the 124th floor at 30 feet per second. The observation deck is only 55% up the Burj, but it hardly feels that way as you glance out at the curvature of the earth. The view is second to none, and just moments later, you can be back in the mall, at the food court dining at Hot Dog on a Stick, Fatburger, or any other of the random western eateries seemingly plucked from Middle America.

dubai malls

Just outside the mall entrance is a daily impromptu car-show of Ferraris, Bugattis, Lambos, and Porsches, each representing offensive and loud corners of the rainbow. Of course, it is just a parking lot, but in a country where license plate numbers routinely fetch 7 figure payouts, the parking lots are more colorful than a Skittles commercial. Banana yellow, Qatari royal blue, and hellfire red are just some of the colors blasting eyes with candy hues. Indeed, Dubai is a place that appreciates fast Arab horses and faster Italian cars.

If you wish to stay near the Dubai Mall, the Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa is a great though expensive option. The interiors are minimalist, the halls are spaceship chic, and the beds are cloud-like. Rooms start at a painful $454. For cheaper options, search aggregator sites like Kayak for a slew of sub $100 options in downtown Dubai. For an interesting and delicious dining option, check out At.mosphere on floor 122 of the Burj Khalifa.

Mall of the Emirates
The original Dubai super-mall is beginning to show her age, at least relative to the newer and larger Dubai Mall. Only in Dubai can a half a decade old mall look dated, but 5 years feels like 20 years in Dubai time. Fast change makes for faster obsolescence. But, the Mall of the Emirates has a weapon that even time cannot rob – a winter wonderland complete with ski slopes, tubing slides, and snowfall in a city that receives about 5 inches of rainfall per year. Here, Emirati children engage in snowball fights while their parents carve down man-made ski runs. This is Ski Dubai.

dubai malls

It is easy to forget you are in the middle of the desert as you don a down jacket and boot up to hit the slopes. Complete with a ski lift and a mountain chalet, Ski Dubai is as strange as it sounds. Whether you are hypersensitive about 21st century water shortages or you run sprinklers mid-day in August, gazing out at the indoor slope will incite a WTF moment. It is surreal, magnificent, and, perhaps most surprising to your desert adjusted body, very cold.

Beyond the wintery attraction, the Mall of the Emirates boasts a ridiculous amount of high end shops. From Audemars Piguet to Brioni, the shopping center is no slouch in the luxury department.

Connected to Dubai Metro on the red line, the Mall of the Emirates is very easy to visit.

The Future
Dubai seems built to embrace the impossible. The buildings soar above clouds, islands magically appear just offshore, and the malls are built to the exacting standards of this patented Emirati creative indulgence. It is Disney meets Arabia, with just a pinch of batshit insane. In the book Alice in Wonderland, the Queen muses on impossibility, telling Alice “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” A similar approach to the impossible has carved the skyline of Dubai out of the rolling desert dunes. It will be interesting to see if shifting sands and global economics will allow these impossibilities to stand the test of time.

dubai malls

All photography by Justin Delaney @justindelaney

Support for this program was partially provided by DTCM, with no limits on editorial or photographic content.

New world’s tallest building planned for Saudi Arabia

tallest buildingLess than two years after the Burj Khalifa opened in Dubai, Saudi Arabia‘s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has announced a new world’s tallest building to be built on the Red Sea resort town of Jeddah. The Saudi building is planned to be 172 meters (564 feet) taller than the Burj and will stand at 1,000 meters or 3,281 feet. It will be part of the $20 billion “megadevelopment” Kingdom City and will house luxury condos, offices, and of course, a hotel. The prince has signed a $1.23 billion deal with the Bin Laden Group, the largest construction firm in Saudi Arabia and unaffiliated with Osama Bin Laden, to complete the new tallest building in five years.

Last month, Gadling explored the 2,717 foot Burj Khalifa. Gadling and Huffington Post blogger Melanie Nayer was one of the first guests at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong earlier this year, currently the highest hotel in the world. Check out our gallery below of the world’s tallest buildings.

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Image of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa by Flickr user Jason Rodman.