Stepping into the Burj Al Arab is an otherworldly experience. The building’s high atrium shoots upwards as if towards infinity recalling that of a high minaret, while beams of light are cast from the magnificent burst of surrounding colour. The soft and elegant sounds of a grand piano are heard as you journey up towards the reception – a subtle element which adds to the opulent and elitist ambiance. Enmeshed within this lavish creation and struck immediately in awe of the man-made engulfment of grandeur, you can easily lose track of time and fall prey to the majestic décor all around. And yet while the Burj Al Arab has always been synonymous with the pinnacles of luxury, opulence and excess, what is not readily relayed to many visitors is its resounding architecture and artistic make-up which resonates not only the beauty and might of man-made sophistication, but the culture and heritage of the UAE.
Situated on a man-made island on the Arabian Gulf 290 metres from the shores of the dazzling city of Dubai, the Burj Al Arab was conceived according to the ideals of the forefathers of the UAE: the desire to preserve the country’s traditional heritage and Arabian spirit while exposing it to the ingenuity of the modern world. Renowned British architect Tom Wright was commissioned to design the Burj Al Arab in 1993. The brief was to create an icon for Dubai – a building which would become synonymous with the city and country and comparable to iconic world monuments such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris. A night in the hotel reveals Wright’s architectural plan: the structure was built to resemble the sail of a dhow, a type of Arabian vessel, while the building’s two wings are juxtaposed on either side to form a vast mast enclosing the atrium between them. Breathtakingly poignant, it gives you the impression that you are indeed enclosed within a vessel, and one that is glimmering with decadent décor.
Upon opening the door into your two-storey suite, you find yourself enmeshed in sumptuous furnishings of regal reds, bright yellows and lavish purples. Chinese London-based interior designer Khuan Chew is responsible for the building’s rich interiors. She wanted the Burj Al Arab to evoke a contemporary Arabian fantasy and searched worldwide with her team for the luscious touches and finish which endow each room with the lavish and charming ambiance of a home.
Little details throughout the hotel evoke the country’s history – such as the colourful mezzanine fountain made to recreate a three-dimensional Islamic star pattern, and the intricate images of landmark buildings from the seven emirates in each bathroom. These become even more complete when you go up to the Burj Al Arab’s Skyview bar on the 27th floor and gaze out onto the vast Arabian sea below, contemplating the world around you and this majestic jewel within which you are staying.
Burj Al Arab
P.O. Box 74147, Dubai
Tel. +971 (0)4 3017 777