x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Mosque in Burj Khalifa an urban myth

Developer Emaar has repeatedly refused to confirm the presence of a mosque on the 158th floor, despite media reports to the contrary.

Despite many reports to the contrary, the Burj Khalifa, the world's highest building, does not have a mosque.
Despite many reports to the contrary, the Burj Khalifa, the world's highest building, does not have a mosque.

DUBAI // According to some of the world's most respected news sources, it is the crowning glory of the world's tallest building: a mosque on the 158th floor of the Burj Khalifa, and the highest on Earth.

The BBC reported it in a story on the opening of the Burj on January 4 last year: "The world's highest mosque and swimming pool will meanwhile be located on the 158th and 76th floors."

And The New York Times said in a report about the Burj published on the same day: "It will have the world's first Armani hotel; the world's highest swimming pool, on the 76th floor; the highest observation deck, on the 124th floor; and the highest mosque, on the 158th floor."

Wikipedia, too, maintains the mosque is there. Its Burj Khalifa entry says the tower holds the record for the world's highest mosque on the 158th floor.

Hundreds of thousands of other reports and internet posts and articles have made the same claim over the past two years.

But it has turned out to be no more than a tall tale.

Emaar Properties, the developer of the 828-metre tower that soars above Dubai, responded to an inquiry about the mosque in the Burj Khalifa by saying: "We have not announced a mosque in the tower."

Attached to the email for reference was a copy of Emaar's official Burj Khalifa fact sheet.

And, sure enough, amid all the eye-popping statistics, the remarkable records and the references to the Armani Hotel and the At.mosphere restaurant, there is no mention of a mosque.

A request for clarification and an interview with an Emaar official to discuss the matter met with the reply: "Reference Burj Khalifa, as mentioned earlier, all official details on the tower can be found in the attached fact sheet."

A fact sheet and other materials issued by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the US architects who designed the Burj, also contain no mention of a mosque.

But the belief that the tower contains a mosque is so widespread that Googling the words "Burj Khalifa" and "world's highest mosque" brings up more than 400,000 results.

The only doubt appears to concern which floor it is on, with a few reports placing it a few levels lower on the 154th. The original source of the claim is unknown.

So it seems the story of the world's highest mosque is just the latest addition to the growing number of Burj Khalifa urban myths.

A list of these, compiled by Construction Week magazine, includes claims that the tower can be seen from space and is the headquarters of the Dubai base-jumping association.

Where, then, is the world's highest mosque?

According to a report in Saudi Arabia's Arab News it is the Prince Abdullah Mosque on the 77th floor of the tower at Riyadh's Kingdom Centre.

csimpson@thenational.ae