The Dubai Creek glitters at twilight.
Take the landmark Burj Al Arab, an iconic, sail-shaped structure and the tallest all-suites hotel in the world. At 1,053 feet, the building is to Dubai what the Statue of Liberty is to New York or the Eiffel Tower to Paris. Known locally as “The Burj,” the hotel has been dubbed Dubai’s best and is one of the city’s most popular attractions. In early 2005, during a break at the Dubai Tennis Championships, a photographer captured tennis stars Andre Agassi and Roger Federer playing each other on the hotel’s heli-pad, 692 feet above the Arabian Gulf. The previous year, Tiger Woods knocked golf balls into the sea from the same heli-pad as he practiced for the Dubai Desert Classic.
A night at the Burj Al Arab costs about $1,280 for a 2,422-square-foot “panoramic” suite, complete with butler service and a winding staircase to bed. Those who aren’t staying at the hotel are allowed past the security checkpoint onto its man-made island only if they have a reservation at one of its swank restaurants or at the luxurious Assawan Spa, which offers a fabulous view of the city and the Jumeirah coast from the hotel’s 18th floor.
After his match with Federer on the Burj heli-pad, Agassi praised Dubai and its peaceful, multicultural society in Pakistan’s Daily Times as “the way the world is meant to be.” He added, “If I were to take a message back home it would be ‘Come to the Middle East before you form any opinions.’”
Federer, a four-time champion in Dubai, keeps an apartment at Dubai Marina. The marina’s restaurants and cafés are popular local gathering places on the weekend, when market stalls laden with artsy gifts and ethnic African jewelry stand in contrast to the luxury yachts moored nearby.
Across the marina, the Grosvenor House hotel (grosvenorhouse-dubai.com) features a franchise of the hip Parisian club Buddha Bar, the place to see and be seen. Unlike the hotel’s main restaurant, reservations aren’t required for drinks and sushi at the Buddha Bar, but space is limited. The busiest evenings are Wednesday through Friday.
Burj Al Arab
Jumeirah Road, Umm Suqeim, Dubai, 971-4-301-7777
Located in Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Road, Umm Suqeim, Dubai, 971-4-301-7338
Grosvenor House Hotel
West Marina Beach, Dubai, UAE, 971-4-399-8888
This article has been adapted from the original, which was published by MSP Communications.