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Burj Al Arab is a luxury hotel located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It has been called “The world’s only 7 star Hotel” and is the third tallest hotel in the world. 39% of its total height is made up of non-occupiable space. Burj Al Arab stands on an artificial island 280m from Jumeirah Beach and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. The shape of the structure is designed to mimic the sail of a ship.
The hotel is located on an island of reclaimed land 280 meters offshore. The Burj Al Arab was designed by architect Tom Wright of WKK Architects. Construction of the Island began in 1994. It 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. Architect Tom Wright said “The client wanted a building that would become an iconic or symbolic statement for Dubai; this is very similar to Sydney with its Opera House, London with Big Ben, or Paris with the Eiffel Tower. It needed to be a building that would become synonymous with the name of the country”.
The hotel is managed by the Jumeirah Group. Despite its size, Burj Al Arab holds only 28 double-story floors which accommodate 202 bedroom suites. The smallest suite occupies an area of 169 m2, the largest covers 780 m2. Suites feature design details that juxtapose east and west. The Royal Suite, billed at US$18,716 per night, is listed at number 12 on World’s 15 most expensive hotel suites compiled by CNN Go in 2012.
The Burj Al Arab is very popular with the Chinese market, which made up 25 percent of all bookings at the hotel in 2011 and 2012.
While the hotel is frequently described as “the world’s only seven-Star hotel”, the hotel management claims to never have done that themselves. In the words of a Jumeirah Group spokesperson: “There’s not a lot we can do to stop it. We’re not encouraging the use of the term. We’ve never used it in our advertising.” According to the group, the “Seven-Star” notion was brought to being by a British journalist who visited the hotel on a pre-opening press trip. The journalist “described Burj al Arab in her article as above and beyond anything she had ever seen and called it a seven-star hotel.”
Burj Al Arab has attracted criticism as well “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 decor. “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 negative critiques for 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.”