Travelling with kids: Christine Iyer takes her family to the Burj Khalifa to see if her son's love of heights will raise a smile.
A smile for sore eyes at the world's tallest building
Calvin hates smiling for photographs. It doesn't matter where we are or how beautiful the scenery is. He simply stands there, eyes focused on a point above the horizon, looking for all the world as though he doesn't know us, his (exasperated) mum and dad. Inevitably, most of our family photos look something like this: scowling man, wildly gesturing woman and, standing a little way off, a solemn nine-year-old who they may or may not be related to.
Our visit to the Burj Khalifa last month was no different. Except that, this time, Calvin was in a heightened state of excitement: he'd been really looking forward to going to the tallest building in the world. And I was hopeful.
"He might give us a smile," I whispered to my husband on the ride up to the observation deck. "You wish," said my husband, tinkering with his camera.
Once we were "At The Top" among the hordes of people milling around, Calvin disappeared to explore, pressing his face against various windows and squinting at the ground hundreds of metres beneath.
Then we caught sight of him again: he had run into an in-house photographer stationed on the deck, and the lady, being of a tenacious disposition, immediately grabbed hold of him, arranged him in a dramatic pose, ducked behind her camera and shouted "Smile!"
Several people turned to watch, and soon there was a small group standing around the photographer, some of them encouraging Calvin with shouts of "Come on, kid" and "Say cheese".
He didn't, of course. In the end the photographer decided there was better business to be had elsewhere, and Calvin wandered off to check out the the Burj Khalifa Lego sets on sale at the souvenir shop inside. My husband and I lingered on the deck, marvelling at the sunset and waiting for the moment after twilight when the city lights would come on.
It soon got dark, and I left my husband, still snapping away furiously with his camera, to go in search of Calvin and spotted him near the lifts, deep in conversation with a couple of children he'd befriended. Suddenly, one of them produced a bright pink disposable camera, linked arms with Calvin and the other kid and said "Ready?"
I stood frozen to the spot, then whipped out my iPhone and blindly clicked. It turned out to be a fantastic photo - the kids against the shimmering backdrop of Dubai, Calvin with his fingers held out in the peace sign, the dimple in his right cheek flashing beautifully.
It was totally worth waiting for.
Admission to At the Top, the observation deck, is Dh100 per adult and Dh75 per child when booked online. Immediate entry costs Dh400 per person. Opening hours are 10am to 10pm from Sunday to Wednesday and 10am to midnight from Thursday to Saturday. Visit www.burjkhalifa.ae.