The Queen of Arabia and Her Tower of Wonder
The fifty-six-story Burj AI Arab (“The Arabian Tower”) is the world’s tallest hotel, shaped like the billowing sail of a traditional Arab dhow and rising out of the Arabian Gulf on its own man-made island, an homage to Dubai’s seafaring heritage.
Petrodollars paid for the five-year construction of this technical and engineering marvel, which upon its completion in 1999 immediately became the icon of tiny but confident Dubai, the most progressive, aggressive, and dynamic of the United Arab Emirates’ seven sheikdoms – a kind of Arabian Hong Kong, with the design sense of Miami and the flash of Las Vegas. Conceived to pamper and amaze jillionaire sheiks and jaded international execs, the Burj al Arab is a cool oasis of unfathomable luxury, part James Bond and part glory-days Hollywood.
It creates an over-the-top impression from the moment you enter its atrium lobby (at 600 feet the world’s tallest) to the moment you step aboard the luxury submarine that takes you to its glass-walled seafood restaurant, submerged beneath the gulf. Rare multicolored marble and 21,500 square feet of 22-karat gold leaf embellish this symbol of the New Arabia. Its enormous suite-only duplex guest quarters are some of the largest and most opulent in the world, outfitted with the latest technical wizardry and a private butler to show you how it all works.
The ne plus ultra are the two 8,400-square-foot Royal Suite penthouses, two floors with their own private cinemas, meeting rooms, dining rooms, dressing rooms, rotating beds, and private elevator. They can be yours for a cool $7,000 a night.