Burj al Arab is a Must See on Your Dubai Itinerary!

Burj al Arab is quite an amazing sight and stands out amongst most middle eastern holiday destinations. Not only is the structure itself a unique shape – looking like a futuristic space ship or sail boat from a planet of giants (in true Dubai fashion,) it also possesses more trademark Dubai traits: It is the fourth tallest hotel in the whole world, and it was the very first hotel in the world to surpass one thousand feet or three hundred and five meters in height. While at first glance the shape might appear odd, it makes more sense if you are familiar with a type of traditional Arabian vessel called a dhow, used for fishing and pearling.The two billowing wings spread out into a V shape, forming a great mast, and the the area that is between these parts is enclosed in an enormous atrium.


Burj Al Arab

Burj al Arab

It took the builders three years to create the island in the surrounding sea, and just under three years to build Burj al Arab building itself. The unbelievable hotel is situated on this artificial island, resting two hundred and eighty meters off the shore. In order for the builders to secure a foundation for the hotel, the construction workers drove two hundred and thirty 40-meter long concrete piles down into the sand below. The unique foundation is held in its place not by the bedrock, but by the friction of the sand and the silt along the length of these concrete piles.


The Burj al Arab, or Arabian Tower as it is translated to English, is world’s tallest structure with a membrane façade – that’s the main body of the hotel – and it’s also the world’s tallest hotel if you aren’t factoring in buildings with mixed use. The Burj Al Arab was designed by architect Tom Wright of WS Atkins, with the idea of creating an enormous and incredible superstructure that defined Dubai’s skyline. Over the course of the project’s timeline, hundreds of different designers from several different countries including the United Kingdom, the United States and Dubai each contributed to the amazing project. The completion of the Burj al Arab Hotel project certainly made its mark on the Dubai’s skyline, which of course was all part of the game. When the hotel, towering high in the air, first opened its doors in December of 1999 after five long years of planning and continuous construction, it was cause for great celebration. The unique and enormously successful architecture planning of the Burj al Arab hotel is so striking and innovative that the hotel is considered to be one of the most distinctive hotels in the entire world. One look at this impressive towering hotel and you’ll see for yourself what makes Burj al Arab so unbelievably awesome.
The total cost of the Burj Al Arab project’s construction was $650 million dollars, and not only were there hundreds of different designers working together on the massive project, but there were also over three thousand companies and independent contractors assisting in the construction of the Burj Al Arab.

The structure of this whopper of a hotel features just under two and a half million cubic feet of concrete, and more than nine thousand tons of steel. Since the Burj Al Arab is constructed on an artificial island just a short distance from the shores of the Persian Gulf, the project took much longer than if it had been constructed on dry land from the very beginning. The “sail” part of the Burj Al Arab is composed of two layers of a specially designed non-stick plastic-coated woven-glass fiber screen, which makes the façade of the hotel shimmer and shine in the sunlight during the daytime and reflect a variety of amazing looking colours by nightfall.

The exterior of the Burj al Arab was constructed with more than four hundred and fifty thousand square feet of glass panels, which do a wonderful job in displaying the Burj al Arab’s Ellipse Fountain and fire display.
Coming as absolutely no surprise, Burj al Arab is by far one of the most expensive and most luxurious hotels in the world that anyone could possibly stay in.

The price of staying in a suite begins in the thousands. If you’re incredibly lucky you can swing a deal for around $1,000 per night in one of the hotel’s smaller rooms (but don’t count on it – the exclusivity of the place alone ensures that any such deals will be snatched up quick), and the price of staying overnight increases higher and higher. Several rooms in Burj al Arab will run you around $15,000 per stay; while the Royal Suite will knock your socks off at a whopping $20,000 per night, give or take a few thousand. And honestly, at that price, who’s keeping track?

Now, despite the stunning size of the Burj al Arab, the hotel holds only 28 double-storey floors which accommodate two hundred and two bedroom suites. The smallest suite you can find in the entire hotel Burj al Arab occupies an area of one hundred and sixty nine square meters or one thousand eight hundred and nineteen square feet. The largest of the Burj al Arab suites spans seven hundred and eighty square meters, or eight thousand, three hundred and ninety six square feet. That’s some serious square footage – about two thirds the area of Fort Knox.

Burj al Arab has a 24 meter or 79 foot wide helipad which is 210 meters above the ground. One of the most interesting experiences that ever took place on this particular helipad was in 2005, when Roger Federer and Andre Agassi took their tennis skills to new heights while playing a friendly match on the Burj al Arab helipad. It made international news due to the sheer craziness of how it looked – a tennis court on a helipad that looked as though you could fall right over the edge, at a dizzying height – it was so unbelievable looking, many questioned whether the photos were real. They were indeed!

No joke - a very high tennis match

No joke – a very high tennis match!

There are of course safety measures in place to prevent a single mis-step from sending you plummeting over the rim to your untimely death, however that doesn’t stop many people’s stomach from doing flip-flops when witnessing the surreal sight of a tennis match happening high up in the Dubai sky. Since the famous tennis match there have been a string of zany photo-ops and stunts performed on the Burj al Arab helipad, including table tennis, weddings, and a Formula One race car doing death-defying donuts.

Burj al Arab has plenty of room to offer nine signature restaurants, each with its own unique style. Their idea is that the dining experience is about far more than just the meal itself, bringing together every element of the dining experience to make sure that your stay is second to none. You can take advantage of all the different interesting spaces in the hotel’s elegant atmosphere, as you will discover restaurants located through Burj Al Arab from the atrium all the way to the sky.

The Burj al Arab is home to Al Mahara, which means “Oyster”, an incredibly posh, underwater themed restaurant that truly feels as though you are under the ocean. Although you aren’t technically situated under the sea, the restaurant has successfully established the underwater experience. The undersea adventure begins with a simulated underwater submarine ride that takes you from the restaurant’s reception area where you are first greeted, to the Al Mahara dining room. After you’ve completed your mock submarine voyage to the dining area, you will see that the guests at Al Mahara are seated at tables that circle a large, cylindrical floor-to-ceiling aquarium, shimmering with many kinds of exotic fish. The incredible acrylic glass tank holds around nine hundred and ninety thousand litres (that’s thirty five thousand cubic feet!) of seawater, making a remarkable centerpiece for the uniquely underwater-themed establishment. It’s romantic, it’s adventurous, it’s soothing and it’s a very one of a kind dining experience. It’s been named one of the world’s 50 best restaurants, and just like everything else in Burj al Arab, you have to see it to believe it.

The Royal Suite on the 25th floor of Burj al Arab is arguably one of the most famous hotel “rooms” in the world. This suite is actually incredibly enormous, taking up two floors and a total seven hundred and eighty square meters. Your own private elevator brings you to the enormous doors, that swing open to reveal an unbelievably over the top gold and marble staircase and 22 karat gold plated pillars. The top floor of the suite is divided into two sections, each suiting different tastes with different colour schemes, all furnished with the most impressive finds and bright colours. The Royal Suite features its own private library where you can hide away for an hour of privacy, and a master bedroom with a rotating bed and as many pillows as you could possibly dream of. The use of mirrors throughout the suite make the place feel even more grand than it already is, giving off a spacious vibe in areas you would normally not expect.


The Royal Suite

The Royal Suite

The Royal Suite has a dazzling spa bath in one of its many bathrooms, with marble and gold features and a rather palatial vibe runs through the entire suite. You’ll find Hermes fragrances and body products, an an abundance of cushions and pillows just about everywhere. As if that weren’t enough, Burj al Arab gives you your own private cinema within the Royal Suite itself. Enjoy!


The Burj al Arab is of course a private resort, and it’s closed to non-guests which means that tourists aren’t able to come and go as they please and peasant-up the joint. This hotel works hard to maintain a level of exclusivity that’s hard to come by, which means keeping the riff-raff and the gawkers out. Nevertheless, if you aren’t a millionaire and you’ve got your sights set on Burj al Arab, you can experience this hotel for a visit providing you have a dining reservation at one of the hotel’s nine different restaurants. As you can imagine, it will cost you a pretty penny – the afternoon tea is the most economical option for those on a budget.
Burj al Arab offers a few different types of afternoon tea experiences. The Sky Tea is recommended by other travelers coming through Dubai, which will run you roughly $150 per person. Sky Tea is the only tea served in the SkyView Lounge. There are other options available, such as High Tea for approximately $100, Ultimate Afternoon Tea upwards of $120 with unlimited champagne or slightly cheaper without the free-flowing bubbly, bearing in mind that alcohol is not served during Ramadan, and Asian Afternoon Tea which is roughly $100. It might be the an enormous splurge, but Burj al Arab is an experience like none other.

Visit the Middle East destinations category to learn more about other tourism opportunities available in Middle East!