Brave window cleaners take on the challenge of the world's tallest skyscraper, Dubai's Burj KhalifaBy Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:58 AM on 06th January 2010
Cleaning the windows of skyscrapers can be a daunting process.
But never more so than for the company who landed the epic task of cleaning the windows of the world's tallest skyscraper in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa.
Towering at 2,717ft and with 1,292,500 sq ft of glass, the £1billion Burj is an imposing building, and one designers were determined would be sparkling clean in time for yesterday's extravagant opening ceremony.
Dizzying heights: Cleaners in a telescopic boom unit can be seen ensuring the world's tallest skyscraper is gleaming in time for yesterday's extravagant opening ceremony
Twelve machines weighing 13 tons carry up to 36 cleaners, who use ordinary soapy water to wash down the Burj's 24,830 reflective windows in a process that takes three months from top to bottom.
The cleaners stand on the specially designed machines, which emerge from cavities in the skyscraper and track along rails skirting its curved towers.
Towering: The impressive Burj Khalifa stands at 2,717ft and is officially the world's tallest buildingMr Harding said the company, based in Melbourne, Australia, had been working overtime to get the Burj gleaming for Monday's extravagant opening ceremony.
He said: 'It's an enormous challenge. The architects had some fairly high expectations.
'It's an iconic building with high exposure. They wanted it as clean as possible, particularly for the opening. There have been some fairly tight deadlines over the past few months.
'It's an incredible construction. People are focusing on the height of the building but the sheer size of it, the footprint, is huge. It's really 10-15 conventional buildings.'
Ingenious: The specially designed units emerge from cavities in the skyscraper and track along rails around the towers
Fearless: Mick Flaherty, fitted lights to the tip of the 2,716ft Burj Dubai buildingAnd in a spectacular blunder just months before the opening ceremony, which was attended by over 6,000 people, Samsung Besix Arabtec Joint Venture, which built the Burj, were forced to rush in Mick Flaherty after they realised they had forgotten to fit lights to the tip.
The 35-year-old, originally from Tyne and Wear, and his company Total Solutions Middle East, worked on the pre-fabricated spire of the building for more than a month before it was officially unveiled to the world.
His daily commute to work involved him taking five lifts to the 160th floor, climbing through a further seven tiers on vertical ladders, then squeezing into the 6ft wide spire and out of a hatch.
Mr Flaherty said: 'I felt like I could see the whole world. It was absolutely breathtaking.
'As you climb up the ladders you open this little door and all you see is blue sky. The sun feels amazingly close. It just leaves you speechless.
'I've been going abseiling for over nine years but even I was twitching with fear the first time I climbed out. It's the pinnacle of my career. Nothing will ever come close to doing that again.'
Celebration: Fireworks explode around the Burj Dubai during Monday's opening ceremonyThe work, which took more than month from the start of last August, was so gruelling that the team involved nicknamed themselves the 'Men Of Steel'.
'It was totally exhausting because you were up and down ladders all day.
'There was a platform inside where you could eat your lunch but you were a long way from your nearest toilet or water supply.'
The job is now set to enter the Guinness Book of Records as the highest rope access work ever completed.