Burj Al Arab

Burj Al Arab, Dubai, Atkins Design Studio, Wright Tom
Construction year: 1998
Address: Jumeirah beach area | DUBAI | United Arab Emirates | Visit Website
Latitude/Longitude: 25.1411, 55.1856

Dubai’s iconic building is a construction of superlatives. The world’s tallest hotel (321 meters) is also popularly described as the world’s only 7-Star hotel  – although its formal rating is 5 Star Deluxe, the highest the international rating system offers.

Artificial island

Built on its own artificial island, the hotel can be reached by causeway (in one of its courtesy white Rolls Royces) or by helicopter, straight to its heliport cantilevered out from its top floor. Also extending from the top floor is the Skyview Bar, with sunset views over the Gulf, including the artificial Palm Jumeirah island and The World archipelago.

Front Facade

The front (shore-facing) facade is constructed of two tiers of huge, steel ‘X’ trusses. Below these, full-width windows provide panoramic views from two levels of entrance lobby, unencumbered by structural support.

Above these first two levels, the facade outside of the trusses is made up of translucent white fabric stretched around the structural frame – the sail of the dhow that the building’s shape is inspired by. During the day, this white wall glows to illuminate the full-height atrium (at 180 meters, the world’s tallest). At night, a complex arrangement of changing projected lighting makes Burj Al Arab a changing beacon seen from outside, while providing a dramatic illuminated show seen from the atrium within. On the opposite side of the atrium, the floors are organized around corridor ‘galleries’ that open onto the atrium space.


The Burj al Arab (or Arabian Tower) hotel is built in the shape of a modern yacht sail to reflect Dubai?s seafaring heritage combined with a modern aspect moving forwards into the future. It accommodates 202 one, two and three bedroom suites.

* The Burj is 321 metres high and is the tallest stand-alone hotel structure in the world.
* The Burj is built 290 metres off the Dubai coast on a triangular, man made, landscaped island with sides of 150 m in length built off the sea bed in 7.5 metres of open sea.
* The gross area of the Burj al Arab is 1.2 million square feet with 28 double height space floors, each floor is 7m high.

* A gently curving road bridge links the island (which is some 450m offshore) to the Dubai mainland.
* The island is protected by special hollow concrete armour units. These present a perforated sloping surface to the sea that absorbs the waves without throwing water onto the island.
* The concrete structure, with exposed diagonal steel wind bracing, is triangular in plan founded on 250 concrete piles which penetrate the sea floor to a depth of more than 40 m.
* The accommodation wings enclose two sides of a huge triangular atrium that runs up the full height of the accommodation floors. The third side, facing the shore, is enclosed by a double skinned, Teflon coated woven glass fibre screen; the first time such technology has been used vertically in this form or to this extent.
* Dicroyic lights illuminating the exterior of the hotel in varying colours throughout the night.
* The atrium is the tallest in the world at 182 metres high.

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