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Many Thanks, Dubai!

Mar 20

In Thanks at 3:47am

I was very fortunate and humbled on this latest trip to Dubai to have had a couple of extraordinary opportunities, among them to climb the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Above is an Iphone snap I sent out on Instagram. Below my feet is the area known as Downtown Dubai, a truly vibrant area of the city that has literally sprung up in just a few years. Way below me on the building is the observation decks of the Burj Khalifa, at level 124. 

Many thanks to the amazing crew at Gulf Photo Plus,  and of course to Mohamed Somji and Hala Salhi, two truly wonderful people who are passionate about pictures. Together, they run a workshop series called GPP that is always one of the highlights of the calendar, and the yearly reason I travel to Dubai. I stand in awe of the assembled talent of the group of photographers who teach there every year, and just happy to be included.

And a huge thank you to the staff at Emaar! Michelle, Lejla and Waseem, the folks who organized the behind the scenes moves to make the climb possible, were nothing short of amazing. As were Johnny and Mike, the two guys I climbed with. All the best, and my humble thanks to all.

More on this, obviously, tk….






45 Responses to “Many Thanks, Dubai!”

RodneyB says:

on March 20, 2013 at 4:21 am

Dont jump, there is a lot in life worth living for!

Mike Deere says:

on March 20, 2013 at 7:16 am

Holy cow Joe, I’ve got a head for heights and that photo still trips me out… So high you lose a sense of scale and feel like you’re somehow separate from the ground!

Michael Clements says:

on March 20, 2013 at 8:18 am

Joe, you’re by far my favorite photographer… and I’m happy to add my name to the (I’m sure) very large list of people who have said this… you’re out of your mind! :)

I just recently got engrossed in Half Dome after your last blog and decided to watch the YouTube video of people doing the 12-mile hike… with clenched fists I watched as people scaled the cables. I was in the WTC January before 9/11, and heights weren’t a big deal to me then… after September 11, that all changed… I’m not sure why. I just woke up and suddenly heights were a thing.

Though it’s my dream to one day chase football and backetball players down the sidelines and courtside with one of Nikon’s finest, a part of my wishes for the NG gigs you’ve gotten… but after seeing that heights really do need to be just another thing (I’m still in awe of your climb up the antenna at the ESB), I’ve resolved that this terra firma is pretty sweet!

Thank you for scaling the heights that I just can’t fathom… at least in the physical world.

Trevor Johnston says:

on March 20, 2013 at 8:54 am

Joe, were those shoes brown before you climbed out there? ;-)

Lorri E says:

on March 20, 2013 at 9:19 am

Heights don’t normally bother me but you have a knack for making my stomach lurch with your photos taken from staggering heights. This one and the changing the lights on Empire State building photo both get to me.

Christopher Campbell says:

on March 20, 2013 at 9:25 am

What the heck is that thing Joe is standing on? Looks like an exhaust manifold or something. It doesn’t look designed to hold the weight of a human. Joe hangs out of helicopters and all kinds of stuff, but he uses safety lines. But long pants? Where are his shorts? I bet it was cold up there. And windy. Was it cold and windy, Joe? I bet we also start seeing this picture in forwarded emails, perhaps doctored a little, as one of those “last photos ever taken” or some such.

MaryT says:

on March 20, 2013 at 10:57 am

OMG OMG OMG that photo makes me so dizzy I can’t look at it but for a few seconds!!!

You kill me Joe. Wow.

Libby says:

on March 20, 2013 at 11:37 am

I saw this making the rounds on the internet and said to myself, “Look at that crazy bastard!” I didn’t know the photo was yours. You’re still crazy ;-)

Robert H Carney says:

on March 20, 2013 at 1:54 pm

This reminds me of your work on some very high powerlines where you used a helicopter to get up there! Numnutz forever !

Joe Ethridge says:

on March 20, 2013 at 4:38 pm

OMG Joe! Dude, we both have the same first name, we both shoot with Nikons, and we both have the same pair of Eccos. I thinking that we both do not share a fear of heights though. You Rock!

Dave Hanichak says:

on March 20, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Each time I look at this I get shivers all over. What an incredible height to step out
and look down. Yes Joe -you are crazy !

Jim Nooney says:

on March 20, 2013 at 5:32 pm

So Joe were you basically tied to the mast here? There’s a wonderful (and wonderfully dizzying) sense of depth and height here!

Fotografia Esencial says:

on March 20, 2013 at 6:49 pm

You got the guts!

Best regards from Mexico! hope you come again soon.

Jason says:

on March 21, 2013 at 12:38 am

You win!!

Thou hast the world’s supply of brass hanging ‘tween thou’s legs.

Ashley says:

on March 21, 2013 at 10:10 am

Wow – that is a dizzying shot! I would have dropped my phone!

Bill Fortney says:

on March 21, 2013 at 10:43 am

You know what I’ve done through out my career from planes, but man this is too dang high!!!!! Be careful my friend!!


Markus Kyroe says:

on March 21, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Hi Joe!

What a great picture! Scary as HELL :-) Do you have it in better resolution? I would really like it as a poster! Or do you sell it? Or how does it work around?


Peter Wine says:

on March 21, 2013 at 7:17 pm

I’ve climbed a 250 foot radio antenna to change the light bulb (without a safety belt – what was I thinking?) and this still makes me cringe.
And there’s more to come! Oh, be still my heart.

John says:

on March 21, 2013 at 7:36 pm

I’d bet there are a fair number of us that often wish we were in your shoes.


All the best.

Steve McEnroe says:

on March 22, 2013 at 11:42 am

Huffington Post has listed your photo as the “most epic” photo ever on Instagram!

Dave says:

on March 22, 2013 at 12:57 pm

rdal7arbi says:

on March 22, 2013 at 4:49 pm

روعه وقمه في الشجاعه

Eric D. Greene says:

on March 22, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Epic photo, I love it!

Britney Patterson says:

on March 23, 2013 at 12:23 am

Just LOOKING at the photograph is making me nauseous. I don’t do heights very well (unless I’m in a plane!) obviously! I’d love to see Dubai.

charles gates says:

on March 23, 2013 at 12:53 am

Ha! You’ve gone viral with this one! I admire your sense of adventure and I’m glad you’re a shooter.

Bob Fisher says:

on March 23, 2013 at 11:50 am

Joe, next time, before you show a photo that includes your shoes, you should get them polished.

Bob Fisher, a big fan of your work.

Jim Metzger says:

on March 23, 2013 at 12:15 pm


There was a horse in Atlantic City that could have made that dive into the fountain (lake?) below, no big deal!

Regards from Hastings on Hudson.


PS I think I’ll go lie down now until the nausea passes.

Steven Marks says:

on March 23, 2013 at 3:45 pm

There is something very wrong with you, Joe. Glad someone does it!

Simon says:

on March 28, 2013 at 4:11 am

I wonder if you slip?


Tom Bruce says:

on March 28, 2013 at 6:34 pm

OMG, that is an awesome view. No way in a million years I could ever do that. Amazing.

Randy McKown says:

on March 31, 2013 at 2:42 am

Dubai been on my wish list for a long time. Would I climb up there? Hell yeah you only live once .. I would just be hoping that meant long enough to process the images. ;-)

Robert Castano says:

on April 3, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Nice photo – not as exciting or dangerous as NSUH at sunrise though now there was a real photo safari. Are those Bass?

Joe McNally says:

on April 4, 2013 at 5:41 am

Eccos! Good to hear from you Robert! Yes, we did have an adventure that morning up on the roof of NSUH. I was glad you guys were willing to just look at the sunrise while Cali and I hung out over the side of the building:-)))

Bronney Hui says:

on April 6, 2013 at 7:33 am


It looks like you’re at the tip of the building.. the maximal, is that correct?? How on earth did you get there? The climb must be insane!!! Show us more?

Chris says:

on April 8, 2013 at 9:20 am

Amazing photo. My stomach turns every time I look at it! Where the heck are you standing?

Joe McNally says:

on April 8, 2013 at 9:37 am

STanding on the railing on the bucket where the aircraft warning lights are hanging….:-))) cool view!

Simon Pellett says:

on April 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Hi Joe
I was fortunate enough to come to three of your classes this week (plus an expo class, the panel discussion and the wrap up) and saw you show the video on this…..incredible stuff!

Is that video going to be published anywhere soon?

Thanks for being an inspiration.

Tim Bykowski says:

on April 25, 2013 at 8:51 am

Hi Joe.
I just attended your workshop in Minneapolis on April 24th. Awesome day. I was impressed by the video that was shot of you climbing the tower in Dubai. Will that video be available for viewing on the web? I’d love to show it to my photo classes.

Kevin Finch says:

on May 20, 2013 at 11:45 am

Ditto on the request to have the video available, Joe. Saw it three times I believe at PSW13 and it amazed every time.

I think I’m the third person to make such a request; third time lucky? (grin)

All the best.

Joe McNally says:

on May 21, 2013 at 7:07 am

still hanging on to it Kevin….thanks for asking, but we are still in negotiations with some pubs….all best, Joe

Dubai دبي says:

on September 14, 2013 at 11:31 am

wow what an amazing picture . i only looked at it for 2 seconds couldn’t stare at it any longer ,my head started spinning….

Holly Bissonnette says:

on November 19, 2014 at 4:29 am

OMG! :| I consider myself a daredevil but I don’t think i will ever have the courage to try this. Well, maybe I do but probably not stand on the ledge. LOL :) Hey Joe! any plans on taking a picture of these places from above? That would be awesome too!


Anybody here agrees with me? :)

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