x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

'French Spider-man' waits on green light for world's tallest twisted tower climb

Alain Robert, who two years ago climbed the Burj Khalifa, plans to return to Dubai soon to conquer the emirate's latest architectural marvel.

Alain Robert, the 'French Spiderman', climbing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai two years ago. Satish Kumar / The National
Alain Robert, the 'French Spiderman', climbing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai two years ago. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // The man dubbed the "French Spider-man" is waiting to learn whether he'll be allowed to climb the world's tallest twisting tower.

Alain Robert, who two years ago climbed the 828-metre Burj Khalifa, plans to return to Dubai soon to conquer the emirate's latest architectural marvel - the "twisted" Cayan Tower in Dubai Marina.

When the building opened in early June, Ahmed Alhatti, the chairman of building developer Cayan, said Mr Robert had already been granted permission.

He said in a statement at the time that the building's design, which turns a full 90 degrees, "presents a real challenge" for Mr Robert.

Cayan were unavailable for comment yesterday, but Mr Robert said plans for his climb were still not concrete.

"Until now nothing is completely official, meaning that even though there is the approval of the building owner, there are still other issues," he said, declining to say what exactly.

"It would be something filmed live on TV. That's why it takes time, because it's something quite expensive."

He said he visited Dubai in July, a month after the building's opening, to check the design and whether it was possible to climb without a safety harness.

Mr Robert established his reputation by scaling most of the world's tallest buildings, including the Empire State Building in New York, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur without safety ropes.

His one exception was when he climbed the Burj Khalifa in 2011 with a harness. He said at the time it was a stipulation of his being granted permission and it was worth it just for the experience.

Shortly after completing the Burj Khalifa climb, Mr Robert said he was hoping to do it again without a harness and have the event filmed. However, Mr Robert said those plans have since been shelved. "I did it once, so I won't do it twice," he said "It's quite complicated to get the approval. I don't think they will let me climb without a harness."

But he said he was hopeful that Cayan would grant him permission. "That's the plan," he said.

mcroucher@thenational.ae