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World's tallest tower in Dubai reopens deck

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The observation deck of the world's tallest skyscraper reopened yesterday, two months after an elevator malfunction left visitors trapped more than 120 stories above the ground and forced it to be closed.

Dozens of tourists were lining up for tickets to take an elevator to the 124th floor of the half-mile-high Burj Khalifa, where the tower's observation deck is located.

The deck was shut in February after an elevator packed with visitors got stuck between floors for 45 minutes before rescuers dropped a ladder into the shaft so those inside could crawl out.

Two months later, it's still unclear what caused the elevator to fail. The accident proved a major embarrassment for Dubai, whose rulers hoped the Burj Khalifa, which opened officially in January, would be a major tourist draw and buoy the Gulf city-state as it struggles to revive its image as a cutting-edge Arab metropolis amid nagging questions about its financial health.

At 2,717 feet, the tapering, silvery tower is also the tallest free-standing structure in the world.

Its developer, Emaar Properties, has not officially announced the observation deck's reopening. The firm handling Emaar's public relations did not immediately respond to calls from the AP.

The tower has 57 elevators, which are supplied by Farmington, Conn.-based Otis Elevator Co., part of United Technologies Corp. Otis spokesman Dilip Rangnekar previously told the AP the installation is continuing. On Sunday he did not respond to a request for details on the elevators' repairs or their safety.

The observation deck was the only part of the tower that opened in January. It boasts a view of Dubai's glimmering skyline, the sprawling desert and the emirate's gulf shore. Work continues on the rest of the building's interior. The first tenants are supposed to move in soon.

Most visitors who paid the 100 dirhams, or $27, for a 3-minute ride to the deck either didn't know about February's elevator malfunction or did not mind the ride's bumpy start.

The tower rises more than 160 stories. The exact number of floors is not known. - AP

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