Reopened deck of world's tallest tower attracts Dubai crowds

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The Independent Online

Dozens of visitors lined up to ascend the viewing deck of the world's tallest tower in Dubai on Monday, which reopened after an elevator breakdown forced its closure only a month after a glitzy inauguration.

The observatory of the glistening 160-storey Burj Khalifa building reopened on Saturday afternoon, after nearly a two-month closure that reportedly followed a February 6 incident when passengers were trapped in a malfunctioning elevator for 30 minutes.

But dozens lined up Monday for an "At the Top" experience, some queueing for 100 dirhams (27 dollars) future bookings and others ready to pay the 400 dirhams (109 dollars) fee for immediate access to the 124th-floor deck.

Eighteen-year-old Edward Shoeman, a South African tourist, said he had been waiting for this moment for a while.

"I tried to come before, but they told me it was closed, so I kept waiting. I'm so excited about getting up there," he told AFP.

"We only arrived yesterday and had no idea it was shut down before. I guess we're very lucky then," said Mina Bhugwansing, a 49-year-old tourist from The Netherlands who arrived in Dubai the day after the reopening.

But amid the excitement, some visitors could not avoid worrying about a repeat of the elevator incident that forced the closure.

"Is it safe up there?" asked 50-year-old American tourist Omar Jamil, voicing fears of "another technical problem" which kept him visibly anxious.

Employees appeared overwhelmed by the flood of visitors.

"We've lost count of the people coming in and out of the tower" said one, as he hurriedly ushered visitors in.

"Since Saturday, the movement has been non-stop in here," she added while crowds bustled at the tower's entrance.

Emaar Properties, which developed the tower, said in a February statement that the deck would be temporarily closed for "maintenance and upgrade."

A spokesman for Dubai Civil Defence later told AFP that passengers were left trapped in an elevator for about a half hour on February 6, but were rescued unharmed.

The lavish January launch of the glistening concrete, glass and steel pinnacle, which rises 828 metres (2,717 feet) out of the desert sands, was part of Dubai's efforts to burnish an image tarnished by its crippling debt woes.