Arab (Arabian Tower) PO Box 74147 Jumeirah Beach Road
United Arab Emirates
Wills-Wright (WS Atkins) 1999
iconic building is a construction of superlatives. The world's tallest
hotel (321 meters) is also popularly described as the world's only
7-Star hotel- although its formal rating is 5 Star Deluxe, the
highest the international rating system offers.
Built on its
own artificial island, the hotel can be reached by causeway (in one of its
courtesy white Rolls Royces) or by helicopter, straight to its heliport
cantilevered out from its top floor. (The heliport has also served as a
grass tennis court for Andre Agassi and Roger Federer, and a golf green for
from the top floor is the Skyview Bar, with sunset views over the Gulf,
including the artificial Palm Jumeirah island and The World archipelago.
superlatives mostly translate into extreme gaudiness, with gold leaf
applied more for quantity than design. There is little subtlety in the
decor of the communal entrance areas, with the exception of the dramatic
larger-than-life aquaria lining the escalators (top-right picture).
(shore-facing) facade is constructed of two tiers of huge, steel 'X' trusses. Below these, full-width windows provide panoramic views from two levels of entrance lobby, unencumbered by structural support.
Above these first two levels, the facade outside of the trusses is made up of
translucent white fabric stretched around the structural frame - the
sail of the dhow that the building's shape is inspired by. During the
day, this white wall glows to illuminate the full-height atrium (at 180
meters, the world's tallest). At night, a complex arrangement of
changing projected lighting makes Burj Al Arab a changing beacon seen
from outside, while providing a dramatic illuminated show seen from the
On the opposite side of the atrium, the floors are organized around corridor 'galleries' that open onto the atrium space.
Simon Glynn 2005
How to visit
As its web site
describes it, "Burj
Al Arab is located in the Jumeirah Beach area of Dubai, 15 km. from the main
city centre and 25 km. from Dubai International Airport. It is well served
by taxis and has its own fleet of 10 chauffeur driven Rolls-Royces. It
stands proudly on a man-made island some 280m. offshore and is linked to the
mainland by a slender, gently curving causeway."
To cross the causeway, however, you
need a reservation at the hotel. Casual visitors are not admitted, and
reservations - even for a meal - require almost as much advance notice as
they do cash.
Even if you don't make it across the
causeway, there are great views of the building from the shoreline,
including the neighboring Jumeirah Beach hotel and Madinat Jumeirah, which
are both also luxury hotels but physically more accessible.