DUBAI // French “Spiderman” Alain Robert climbed the world’s tallest twisted tower unaided on Sunday night.
A spotlight followed Robert as he scaled the 75-storey Cayan Tower building in Dubai Marina while hundreds of people clapped and cheered their encouragement.
Starting his ascent at 8.25pm, without the protection of a safety harness and with only a small pouch for chalk to dry his hands, the 52-year-old made steady progress to the top of the building at about 9.30pm.
Speaking to The National just a couple of hours before his ascent, he admitted he was nervous.
“Usually I do the climbs during the day so this has been a lot of waiting around and I’m eager to get started,” he said.
“I have done a number of practice runs and now it’s just a case of getting out there and doing it.
“Although I have done more difficult climbs, this has its own challenges.
“This is going to be a tiring climb and the foot spaces are quite small, so I’ll have to be careful about my route.”
Despite the difficulties he reached the top of the 307-metre tall building in just 65 minutes.
“The Burj Khalifa climb was a little different because I had a safety harness but this time it will just be me on my own,” he said. Robert climbed the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa – in 2011.
“Apart from a bit of tape on my hands I won’t have any other equipment to get to the top,” he said last night.
“The great thing about this climb is that it’s the world’s tallest twisted tower and the nature of the building means it has its challenges.
“I’m not as young as I used to be so this climb will be more difficult than some of the others, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Crowds gathered at the base of the tower and a few yachts moored in the marina to provide a better view.
Taking regular short breaks as he made his way up he waved to spectators below, who cheered.
As the evening progressed many of those living and working in the tower took the opportunity to peer out from their balconies, taking photographs of Robert as he made his way up.
Preparations for the climb took more than a year.
Ahmed Alhatti, chairman and president of Cayan Group, the tower’s developer, said it was Robert’s idea to climb it.
“We have been working with him constantly to make sure that everything goes according to plan,” he said.
“Our engineers worked out the safest route for him and he has been on several practice climbs.
“We suggested that he have safety ropes but be said he wanted to do the climb without them. I think I’m more nervous for him than he is.”
The Frenchman has become famous for scaling some of the world’s most iconic buildings without a safety harness, including the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, Sydney Opera House and the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
“I think he’s mad,” said Rachel Moore, who watched the climb near to Grosvenor House.
“I can’t imagine how it would be possible to climb such a tall building unaided, but he’s making good progress. It’s amazing to see someone do something like this.”
The event was part of Cayan’s launch of the Dh1 billion Cayan Cantara residential and serviced apartment project in Dubai’s Umm Suqeim area.