Wednesday marks 13 years since Burj Khalifa was inaugurated, becoming the world’s tallest building and a global landmark.
Standing 828 metres tall, the structure took more than six years to build, at a cost of $1.5 billion.
In the years since, it has become more than just a building. It’s a tourist attraction, a space for art and celebration, a shooting location for countless films and music videos and the subject of several viral social media moments.
Here, The National looks at five times Burj Khalifa has been seen from a different perspective.
When Tom Cruise scaled it in Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol
Merely a year after Burj Khalifa was completed, it featured in one of the most memorable scenes from the 2011 blockbuster Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol.
Tom Cruise’s character, secret agent Ethan Hunt, uses a pair of special suction gloves to reach the 130th floor. Known for doing his own stunts, Cruise shot scenes in which he walked sideways across the building’s exterior 518m in the air.
When a member of Emirates crew stood on top of it for an advert
In 2021, Emirates caused a stir when it posted a video on social media appearing to show a flight attendant standing on top of Burj Khalifa, holding a sign celebrating the UAE being removed from the UK’s red list during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some questioned whether the video was fake, but the Dubai airline soon revealed it had enlisted the help of skydiver and stuntwoman Nicole Smith-Ludvik, who posed as crew for the ambitious shoot.
Smith-Ludvik did in fact stand on the building’s highest point strapped to a safety harness — a feat only achieved by a small handful of people — as she was filmed by helicopters and drones.
She later returned to the same spot for another video, this time promoting Emirates’ partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai.
When it was given a CGI umbrella to shelter from the rain
In December, Burj Khalifa was at the centre of a fun video to brighten up a grey and rainy day in the city. The viral clip, shared by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, shows the top of the tower opening to produce an umbrella, sheltering itself from the rain.
The CGI video was produced as part of the city’s Dubai Destinations promotional campaign, which has created several images and clips that have gone viral in recent months. Videos include a summer campaign, which featured Burj Khalifa being used a ring toss for a giant flamingo pool inflatable.
When it lit up for special global events
Burj Khalifa is famous for its nightly projector light shows, which transform the outside of the structure into a colourful show that draws tourists from around the world. But it also produces several special lights shows to mark global events, from celebrations to memorials and everything in between.
It held a special memorial show following the death of UAE President, Sheikh Khalifa, who died in May aged 73.
In September, it commemorated the life of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, following her death aged 96.
In November, it also lit up to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s historic World Cup win over eventual victors Argentina in the group stages, which shocked and delighted fans around the world in equal measure.
When it was surrounded by a futuristic ring design
In August, Burj Khalifa was — quite literally — at the centre of an ambitious architectural project, which would see it encircled by a 550-metre-tall ring structure.
The planned project by architecture firm Znera Space, known as Downtown Circle, would be a floating city concept that would change the emirate’s skyline as we know it.
With a circumference of 3km, the structure would consist of smaller units containing homes as well as public, commercial and cultural spaces, as well as a skypark and a tram that circles the outer perimeter.
However, the design is very much still a concept. “Our roles as architects is to come up with these ideas,” Najmus Chowdry, co-founder of Znera Space, previously told The National. “We want people to comment on it, criticise it, to see how we can think about building topographies.”