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Welcome inside the tallest building in the world… Walk down this hallway, step inside this elevator, and in barely a minute you can step onto the observation deck halfway up.

Or at least, that was how I began this report before I found out that the Burj Khalifah is now temporarily closed.

The building’s had an eventful history since December 2004 when Samsung signed on for its construction. Online, Gulf News showed us how they chronicled its development, and as the opening date neared, real estate values rose and the city filled in anticipation.

During the January 4th opening, the record breaking building was renamed the Burj Khalifah. The fireworks and ceremonies didn’t disappoint a local population whose pride in the building has been compared to that of other cities hosting national buildings like the Sydney Opera House and was evident in the work of photo contest participants like Ala’a Kahel.

The adventure didn’t stop with the opening – within weeks, the building had seen visitors ranging from national leaders to base jumpers. In fact, the building’s closure has been partially attributed to its popularity.

In the meantime, you can watch the tour or look off of the observation deck here, and there’s behind the scenes looks at everything from sustainability discussions to cleaning the building (I’m sure the merchandise is still available too). Also, the amazing Burj al Arab which recently celebrated its birthday remains open too.

Above is a link to the gallery with more of Steven’s pictures. I’ve also posted a few more pictures of the view from the observation deck and one of the maps I found when I first found out I’d be visiting Dubai (along with Abu Dhabi and Sharjah) over winter break. At the time, I didn’t realize I’d be there for the event myself.

United Arab Emirates map

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United Arab Emirates map

Here’s the announcement – after a little bit of background information on the United Arab Emirates and, in particular, the emirate of Dubai.

Dubai has been in the news a bit this fall – like the rest of the world, the country’s finances are less ideal than they have been in the past. Recent coverage in US media includes Wall Street Journal‘s Dubai: A High Rise, Then a Steep Fall on Dec 4 and the New York Times‘ photo essay Dubai’s Improbably Tale.

This Monday, the BBC reported more mixed news, with Abu Dhabi gives Dubai $10bn to help pay debts and Gulf News had this article: Dubai issues new legal framework to deal with Dubai World disputes. All this may be especially relevant to Phoenix, given the relationship between the two cities.

Dubai map

As far as regular and background information, one of the best sites is Gulf News. More coverage can often be found through Al Jazeera English and the BBC’s regional coverage.

To finish the background information, you can’t talk about Dubai without talking about the construction

So, why all the information about Dubai? Well, when I posted this October entry, I had just heard about an opportunity – I was in a hopeful mood, and now that it’s finalized, I can make a bit of an announcement…

Dubai trip classmatesI’ll be taking a trip over winter break through ASU Study Abroad. The program is called A Tale of Two Cities – Dubai and Phoenix. It’s led by Jamil AlShraiky who specializes in healthcare design industry at ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. As for the troup, we’re an interdisciplinary bunch including students from design, healthcare, and journalism programs. The blog is already up here.

Yes, I’m REALLY excited, and yes, I’ll be writing about it. How much will be posted live from on-site will depend on internet access, which has been described as “really good dial-up…we’re sure it will work if your computers are right.” But there will definitely be somethings as the trip unfolds, as well as (probably tons of) pictures by mid-January when we get back.

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