Burj Al Arab opened its doors 1999 after five years of construction. The 5star hotel stands on a reclaimed island, 280m off the shore. WKK Architects designed the building with Atkins being project manager and structural engineer. With 321m height, it is one of the tallest hotel-only structures in the world – but almost 40% are vanity height, and the top floor is below 200m. Jumeirah Group manages this property which comprises of suites only, all of which develop over two floors and range between 169m2 and 780m2.
The design of Burj Al Arab is inspired by the sail of a dhow, the traditional boat of the region. This becomes more evident when read together with its neighbouring building, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel which symbolizes a wave.
Burj Al Arab deserves credit as it was THE marketing tool of Dubai for many years. And indeed, it portrayed the vision of Dubai, its attitude of forward-striving and of being visionary. Its iconographic shape made it not only as Dubai’s ambassador onto many billboards but was on the Emirate’s number plate for many years.
An interesting, architectural feature is the curved façade on the land side: it is a double skinned Teflon fabric. It is also visible from the inside, where the atrium stretches full height through the building. The interior is very colourful and opulent. It is said that the color had to be added shortly before the opening as it deemed to be not enough Arabic.
Burj Al Arab had its fair share of controversy in the Middle East: Looking from the sea – or the Palm for that matter – some people see a large cross in the Burj Al Arab which is created by the elevator shaft against the Al Muntaha restaurant. As a symbol of a success story in the Middle East, it is only natural that it over-scrutinized by its peers – whether just or unjust.