Mission possible: Google scales Burj Khalifa in first Arab Street View

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Tom Cruise famously scaled Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, now you can do the same from your armchair, thanks to Google.

The U.S. internet giant on Monday launched the Arab world’s first Street View experience which maps the tallest building in the world.

Street View’s rendering of the Burj Khalifa allows viewers to virtually tour the building from the inside and take in the view from atop the 830 meter tower, according to Mohammad Gawdat, Vice President of Emerging Markets at Google.

The launch marks the first step in what Google states will be a wider roll-out of the online street mapping feature across the Middle East.

Street View has been launched in 3000 cities across 50 countries since its inception in 2007. It allows users to explore locations around the world through 360-degree, panoramic, and street-level imagery.

The feature has raised some privacy concerns with some criticizing Google for uploading images of people who did not consent to having their photos taken. It has also come under scrutiny for publishing photos of security sensitive areas such as military bases in the U.S., according to Reuters.

Gawdat was quick to play down security fears at the launch of the first Arab location to be featured on Street View.

“Privacy is a key issue for us,” he stated, referencing the Burj Khalifa’s Street View project, “we have blurred the faces of those caught on camera and are always working to uphold individual privacy.”

The move is part of Google’s Street view “special collect” which maps sites “from the perspective of discovery,” explained Tarek Abdalla, head of marketing for Google in the Middle East North Africa region.

With the “special collect” series Google visually maps out buildings of “cultural, historical and social significance,” he added.

“It was the first time we’ve rolled out this technology in the Arab world,” explained Abdalla to Al Arabiya English, “so we were looking for a structure that has significance and importance for Emiratis and for the Middle East.

“What better place to go to than the biggest, tallest skyscraper.”

Google worked in tandem with Emaar Properties, developers of the Burj Khalifa which was officially opened in 2010.

Despite Gawdat’s statement that “Street View will only be complete when the whole world is on it,” Google remained tight-lipped about future plans for the Arab region.

“We’re very excited about using this technology to the max and rolling it out across the Middle East, but we have nothing else to reveal at this moment,” Abdalla told Al Arabiya English.

Google has been in talks with the UAE’s government for a number of years, regarding plans to roll out Street View in the city.

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