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Burj Al Arab Hotel: The Heart of Dubai

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The Burj Al Arab hotel which is constructed in the form of a sail is much more than beautiful architecture. It is a symbol of modern Dubai and its integral part. All the visitors from the city and even the inhabitants are extremely pleased with the building of the hotel. The Burj Al Arab attracts tourists from all over the world due to its construction, materials used, architectural style and design, and its unusual location. It is considered an icon of Dubai.

In 1993, Tom wright of Atkins, who was the architect of the hotel received the vision for the hotel by Sheikh, the ruler of Dubai. He commissioned Atkins, the company Tom worked for to create an iconic building that could be easily recognized amongst other great landmarks. He wanted this building to represent Dubai for what it had become, extravagant and luxurious. Furthermore, the price of the building was not a factor in this case.

Burj Al Arab, also known as the tower of the Arabs, is an example of architectural art, its height of 321 meters reflects this. Although, 40% of the building is made up of uninhabitable space, this caused quite a bit of criticism due to its pretentious levels of opulence and it is favoring style over function. The hotel is built on a man-made island in the Arabian Gulf, which is constructed 280 meters offshore and can be seen from anywhere in the city. The construction of the building commenced in the third industrial revolution in 1994 and was completed by December of 1999, just 5 years later. The hotel is known for its idiosyncratic architecture and is said to be the world’s only 7-star hotel. Built in the shape of dhow which is a traditional sailboat, the hotel has 202 rooms, 60 floors and 18 elevators. It is over 1.2 million square feet and the foundation included the installation of large rocks in a honeycomb pattern. There were over 3,000 companies involved in the construction of the hotel, 250 designers and 3,500 workmen onsite always. The Burj Al Arab had to reflect the aspirations of modern Dubai which was achieved. It is estimated that two years were spent to create the man-made island that is on a foundation made of sand, held in place by friction. The builders drilled steel stilts into the seabed, these stilts had to maintain the huge building and were held in place by the precast concrete units which were specially projected hollow blocks aimed to minimize the force from the waves. As the hotel is 280 meters off shore, there are a few ways in which you can reach the hotel, one being driving the white Rolls Royce’s which are courtesy of the hotel, another way is to take a helicopter which lands you directly onto the helipad located on the top floor of the Burj Al Arab, and finally you can take a yacht, which also is courtesy of the hotel (Just Fun Facts, 2019).

The building had to be constructed so that it would be able to withstand a corrosive atmosphere and seismic tremors of the gulf. The structural materials of the highest quality were delivered from around the world in order to support this technical and architectural challenge. The sail-like facade is built of a double-skinned Teflon-coated light pipe fiber screen. In this form, the technology was utilized vertically for the first time in any building worldwide. The hotel consists of a steel exoskeleton, mast, highly reflective glass, and defining fabric sail. The exoskeleton is erected in a cross ‘V’ shape structure which is composed of concrete and combined with structural steel to reinforce the concrete to help with the compression and tension that it will undertake (Edgecombe, 2019). The sky view restaurant is located on the side of the mast which is 200 meters above the ocean. Tom Wright designed the restaurant like this as he wanted the guests to feel as though they were floating in the clouds above the ocean (Just Fun Facts, 2019).

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As mentioned previously, the Burj Al Arab contains 202 suites with the smallest suite being 169 square meters and the largest suite being 780 square meters. The suites of the hotel are divided into 142 luxury rooms, four club suites, six diplomatic suites, two royal and two presidential suites. Precious silk, marble and 22-carat gold covered walls contribute to environmental ornamentation. Only the highest and best quality materials were sourced for finishing the interior of the hotel. Custom-made carpets and rugs were made from South Africa and India, marble from Brazil and Italy, wooden doors from Dubai and chandeliers from the UK. There was an estimated 1,790 square meters of 24-carat gold leaf used to embellish the interior.

Inside the hotel, the parameter of solar energy incidence should always be monitored and regulated on a yearly basis to avoid overload of energy, i.e., heat and energy in the habitable areas. In this case, the constructors built the front façade of the building without glass, but they applied a double-skinned translucent white cloth screen covering the structure. The central hall is refrigerated by water evaporation from the artificial inner pools. During the night time, this covering is unlit, creating a visual performance, both in the interior space and the outside. Exterior lighting also plays an important role, during the night, the hotels exterior lighting changes colors from white to multi-colored. The idea behind this was to create a vision of lights, enhancing the look of the building with expressiveness and illuminating the hotel in the surrounding landscape.

The Burj Al Arab is also famous for its 180-metre-tall atrium, the tallest in the world. This occupies about a third of the whole building’s space, standing 180 meters above the lobby. It is abundant in warm, natural light and surrounded by 22-carat gold columns. It features a fountain positioned in the center where water arches dance in bursts over 42 meters into the air. There are three aquariums with dozens of species of fish and sharks. These were established instead of walls. Two of the aquariums are located on each side of the main lobby and the third is in the Al Amhara restaurant.

Today, the Burj Al Arab hotel is the heart of Dubai and continues to wow and excite visitors from all over the world. Its construction involved a great amount of companies, suppliers of materials and workers from all around the world. This combination of the latest technologies aided in the creation of an icon of Arabian hospitality and sound solutions to creative construction projects. But there were plenty of lessons learnt along the way. The knowledge acquired from this project has been used to inform other projects such as the Address Hotel. This hotel took half the time to design and complete and this was a result in new technology and experience. It only took 60 people to design the Address hotel compared to 250 for the Burj Al Arab. It is also much taller and complex to the Burj Al Arab and this is all down to advances in technology which made the project much faster and efficient. Though, to conclude, the excellent design and unique location of the Burj Al Arab continues to attract visitors from all over the world every day.


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  8. The History of the Burj Al Arab in 1 Minute. (2019, September 2019). Retrieved from Culture Trip:
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Burj Al Arab Hotel: The Heart of Dubai. (2023, January 31). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 30, 2023, from
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