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Dubai's Burj Al-Arab Hotel:
One of the Most Luxurious Abodes in the World

by Habeeb Salloum

If Sindbad, of Arabian Nights fame, should today sail the shores of the United Arab Emirates, he would be truly surprised to see a giant mammoth sail rising above the horizon and climbing endlessly into the blue sky. What seems to be an incredibly large ship, would no doubt bring to his mind other monsters and magical beings which he encountered during his many sea voyages. ‘A mirage of a giant on an enormous wind surfer', which Sindbad would see, is an apt description of Burj al-Arab Hotel (the Arab Towers Hotel), the United Arab Emirates' magnet for jet-setters and all types of other affluent travellers.

Unknown to most of the world's ordinary travellers, this stunning hotel that dominates the Dubai skyline opened its doors in December 1999 to those fortunate enough to experience its splendour and luxury. Visually spectacular, it is acknowledged to be the world’s most luxurious hotel. A much sought after abode of the rich and famous, it has put Dubai, the United Arab Emirates' commercial heart, on the tourist map of the affluent.

A billowing, sail-shaped structure 321 m (1,053 ft) high, taller than Paris's Eiffel Tower and just 60 m (196 ft) shorter than New York's Empire State Building, it is the world’s tallest freestanding hotel. Some 3,500 designers, engineers and building workers took part in the building of this amazing structure. Located 280 m (918 ft) offshore and secured to the seabed, some 45 m (148 ft) below the surface of the water, the Burj is built on an offshore man-made island, overlooking the Arabian Gulf. It has already become a new definition in service and luxury - some even say decadence.

The interior, a museum of future art, overwhelming in its rich colours and affluent atmosphere, is simply breathtaking. A sumptuous world of blues, gold and reds provides guests with a truly visual treat - a finesse of interior design that elevates the hotel to pinnacles of excellence. Designed by Kwan Chew, a British-based designer, it is an eclectic mix of gold-leafed pillars and silver sidings, overlooking blue and red leather sofas and canary-tiled floors. No one walks away without being impressed by the hotel's huge breathtaking atrium or the panoramic view of Dubai and its coastline from all the rooms.

Only the finest materials were used - from English oak and the finest-weave Irish linen to rare Sicis glass, attractive mosaics, Brazilian Azul Bahia granite and the same marble as that used by Michaelangelo for his sculptures. One can feel the pure and sheer richness of the place just by walking through the lobby area, rimmed by designer jewellery and high-class clothing boutiques.

Oozing with luxury, the all-suite hotel, no place for the poor, is comprised of 202 duplex suites, each arranged on two floors, ranging in size from 170 sq m ( 2,000 sq ft) to 700 sq m (8,230 sq ft). The prices of the suites range per night from some US$700 for a standard one-bedroom suite to nearly $7,000 for the luxurious Royal Suite which reaches an unsurpassed peak of luxury. Each is set in palatial surroundings, boasting a majlis (guest room), a blackout cinema, a private elevator and a revolving bed. Doubtless, as it slowly rotates, a husband could boastfully tell his wife, "I made the earth move for you honey!"

Yet, no matter, what type of suites visitors choose, they will be pampered as no in no other hotel in the world. Guests of the Burj arrive from the airport in grand style. They can pay for a helicopter to take them to the 28th floor heli-pad, along with a 15-minute bird's-eye view of the city; or relax in one of the hotel's eight Rolls Royce Silver Seraphs limousines which drop them off on shore across from the hotel. Golf carts, then take them across a small bridge to this unique skyscraper abode.

As guests enter the lobby, they are treated to an unparalleled taste of 21st century Arab hospitality. They are offered Arab coffee and are then escorted directly to their rooms. Each floor has its own reception desk and ‘check in' takes place in the suite. In addition, for any assistance needed, guests are assigned personal butlers who are on call 24 hours a day, even, if desired, watching the door. For management, individual service and personal attention are of paramount importance.

The hotel, with its many gadgets, is the most technologically advanced building in the world. All the suites boast a sophisticated sound system, faxes, laptop computers and 42-inch television screens on which guests cannot only watch one of the at least 100 satellite channels, but view the actual atmosphere of the restaurants, discover the sea temperature and see who's knocking on the door.

This is not all! The Burj has a luxurious spa; an exquisite ballroom; a number of conference rooms, decorated in both Arab and Western style; and eight restaurants. The most notable among these is the Al Mahara seafood restaurant which is reached by an underwater submarine ride and in which one dines surrounded by marine life; and the Al Muntaha, a sky-view restaurant suspended 200 m (656 ft) above the Arabian Gulf.

Already, the hotel has made its mark in the world of travel and hotels. Since its opening the hotel has won numerous prestigious international travel and tourism awards such as Best New Business Hotel in the World given by Business Traveller Magazine, in the United Kingdom in 2002, and the 23rd annual award given by the Institutional Investor magazine in 2003 in its survey of the world’s best hotels. Even though its splendour and luxury are not for everyone, this fairyland structure, reflects in a stunning manner, the blossoming tourist industry in the United Arab Emirates.

For Further Information

Contact: Burj Al Arab (The Arabian Tower), P.O. Box 74147, Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Tel: 971- 4-3017777; Fax: 971- 4 - 301--7000.

E-mail: reservations@burj-al-arab.com

Website: www.burj-al-arab.com

Photos courtesy Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing