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Burj Khalifa: window cleaners to spend months on world's tallest building
It will take a team of 36 window cleaners three months to wash the new 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa in Dubai.Image 1 of 2 The window cleaners will use the traditional squeegee and soapy water Photo: AFP/Getty Images Image 1 of 2 Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building Photo: Bloomberg
By Bonnie Malkin in Sydney
1:35PM GMT 05 Jan 2010
The building, which was initially to be named the Burj Dubai, stands at 206 storeys tall, reaching half a mile into the sky. While most visitors will look out from the skycraper to admire the view of the Arabian desert below, some will be looking back in.
A team of 36 cleaners, mostly made up of migrant workers, have been employed to man 12 state-of-the-art machines that travel along tracks fixed to the exterior of the building while its windows are washed.
It is an unenviable task, but someone has to do it.
Operating at heights of 2,000 feet and covering 40 storeys each, the 13 ton machines will ply the superscraper's facade even in high wind, blazing sun and during dust storms, with the cleaners inside harnessed to metal cages.
The cleaners will carry electrolyte packs and wear specialised clothing resembling moon suits, while working only on parts of the building that are in shade.
An Australian company, Cox Gomyl, won the contract to clean the building's 24,000 reflective windows and about 120,000 sq metres of glass.
Dale Harding, its general manager, said cleaning the building was a massive task. The company has designed and built a £4.6 million million window-washing system to keep the pride of Dubai sparkling.
When not in use, the machines will be hidden at various heights behind glass panels.
"It's an amazing building, people focus on the height of the building ... but really the breadth and width of the building is just huge when you're standing next to it."
Mr Harding said the team of cleaners were expected to battle the hot desert sun, high winds and routine sand storms, but that unmanned machines would clean the building's highest reaches.
"It takes about three months to clean the entire building so the machines will be operating in cycles the vast majority of the year," he said.
"It's a challenging environment to work in. You're out on your own, the wind is howling by, the heat is bouncing off the glass and on the lower levels there is sand as well."
While the technology is cutting edge, the window cleaners will use the traditional squeegee and soapy water.
"It's the same as an average shop front cleaner would use - there's nothing complex about it at all."
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