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The Burj Al Arab ( ,"Tower of the Arabs", also known as "Arab Sail") is a luxury hotel located in Dubaimarker, United Arab Emiratesmarker. At , it is the second tallest building in the world used exclusively as a hotel. The Burj Al Arab stands on an artificial island out from Jumeirahmarker beach, and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. It is an iconic structure, designed to symbolize Dubai's urban transformation and to mimic the sail of a boat.


Construction of Burj Al Arab began in 1994. It was built to resemble the sail of a dhow, a type of Arabian vessel. Two "wings" spread in a V to form a vast "mast", while the space between them is enclosed in a massive atrium. The architect Tom Wright said "The client wanted a building that would become an iconic or symbolic statement for Dubai; this is very similar to Sydneymarker with its Opera Housemarker, or Parismarker with the Eiffel Towermarker. It needed to be a building that would become synonymous with the name of the country."

The architect and engineering consultant for the project was Atkins, the United Kingdommarker's largest multidisciplinary consultancy. The hotel was built by South African construction contractor Murray & Roberts. The hotel cost US$650 million to build.


statue of a camel near the entrance to the Burj Al Arab
Several features of the hotel required complex engineering feats to achieve. The hotel rests on an artificial island constructed offshore. To secure a foundation, the builders drove 230 long concrete piles into the sand.

Engineers created a surface layer of large rocks, which is circled with a concrete honeycomb pattern, which serves to protect the foundation from erosion. It took three years to reclaim the land from the sea, but less than three years to construct the building itself. The building contains over of concrete and 9,000 tonnes of steel.

Inside the building, the atrium is tall.

Burj Al Arab is the world's second tallest hotel (not including buildings with mixed use). The structure of the Ryugyong Hotelmarker in Pyongyangmarker North Koreamarker, is taller than the '"Burj Al Arab'", and the Rose Towermarker, also in Dubai, topped Burj Al Arab's height at , becoming the world's tallest hotel.

Rooms and prices

One of the hotel suites
The hotel is managed by the Jumeirah Group. Despite its size, the Burj Al Arab holds only 28 double-storey floors which accommodate 202 bedroom suites. The smallest suite occupies an area of , the largest covers . It is one of the most expensive hotels in the world. The cost of staying in a suite begins at US$1,000 per night; the Royal Suite is the most expensive, starting at US$28,000 per night.

Suites feature design details that juxtapose east and west. White Tuscan columns and a spiral staircase covered in marble with a wrought-iron gold leaf railing show influence from classicism and art nouveau. Spa-like bathrooms, decorated with Hermèsmarker bathroom products, are accented by mosaic tile patterns on the floors and walls, with Arabian-influenced geometries, which are also found elsewhere in the building.


Al Muntaha
Al Mahara
One of its restaurants, Al Muntaha (Arabic meaning "Highest" or "Ultimate"), is located above the Persian Gulfmarker, offering a view of Dubai. It is supported by a full cantilever that extends from either side of the mast, and is accessed by a panoramic elevator. The main chef there, Edah Semaj Leachim, was awarded Chef of the Year 2006 and also owns the restaurant, in accordance with the Burj Al Arab hotel.

Another restaurant, the Al Mahara (Arabic meaning "The Oyster"), which is accessed via a simulated submarine voyage, features a large seawater aquarium, holding roughly of water. The tank, made of acrylic glass in order to withstand the water pressure, is about thick. The restaurant was also voted among the top ten best restaurants of the world by Condé Nast Traveler.

Reviews by architecture critics

Burj Al Arab at sunset
The Burj Al Arab has attracted criticism as well as praise, described as "a contradiction of sorts, considering how well-designed and impressive the construction ultimately proves to be." The contradiction here seems to be related to the hotel’s extreme opulence. "This extraordinary investment in state-of-the-art construction technology stretches the limits of the ambitious urban imagination in an exercise that is largely due to the power of excessive wealth." Another critic includes the city of Dubai as well: "both the hotel and the city, after all, are monuments to the triumph of money over practicality. Both elevate style over substance." Yet another: "Emulating the quality of palatial interiors, in an expression of wealth for the mainstream, a theater of opulence is created in Burj Al Arab … The result is a baroque effect". Sam Wollaston writing in The Guardian described the hotel as "...fabulous, hideous, and the very pinnacle of tackiness - like Vegas after a serious, no-expense-spared, sheik-over".

See also


  1. The opening of the Rose Tower was originally scheduled to take place in April 2008, but has still not opened as of late May 2008.
  2. Damluji, Salma Samar, The Architecture of the U.A.E.. Reading, UK: 2006.
  4. [The Architecture of the U.A.E..]
  5. Last night's TV | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited


External links

Official sites

  • Burj Al Arab official website
  • Atkins, the designers and engineers behind Burj Al Arab
  • Tom Wright Burj al Arab architect's official website

Video and photographs

Maps and satellite images

The helipad

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