x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Spider-Man clings to Burj Khalifa dream

French climber Alain Robert has not put away his goal of climbing the Burj Khalifa.

The climber has still not received permission to climb the 828-metre skyscraper, but said he may have a chance soon.
The climber has still not received permission to climb the 828-metre skyscraper, but said he may have a chance soon.

ABU DHABI //The climber Alain Robert has scaled more than 120 buildings, most of them with only his bare hands.

But a year after stating his ambition to climb the Burj Khalifa shortly after its opening, the "French Spider-Man" has yet to achieve his most coveted goal.

"Everyone knows that I wish I could climb the Burj Khalifa, because I have climbed the second, the third, the fourth and fifth-tallest buildings," said Mr Robert, 48, who stopped briefly in Abu Dhabi this week after a trip to Turkey.

The climber has still not received permission to climb the 828-metre skyscraper, but said he may have a chance soon - and he is prepared to make a rare sacrifice if given the go-ahead to scale the world's tallest building.

"I am even willing to do it with a rope and a harness," he said. "If for some reason I am given the opportunity to do it, it will be done safely."

During his short trip to the UAE, Mr Robert met officials at the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) as part of planning for this month's biennial Education Without Borders (EWB) conference, an event he has attended in the past.

While on campus, Mr Robert impulsively decided to climb the Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training (Cert) building.

"I think he just likes to show off," said Paul Lancaster, a spokesman in the office of the vice chancellor at HCT. "He just did a quick, easy climb. Just for fun."

Mr Robert is no stranger to the UAE. In 2003 his ascent of the 175-metre National Bank of Abu Dhabi building attracted a crowd of more than 100,000. He scaled the Etisalat building in Abu Dhabi in 2005, and the 185-metre Abu Dhabi Investment Authority headquarters in 2007.

Mr Robert will return to the UAE on March 25 before the EWB conference.

jthomas@thenational.ae