Dubai – Fact Check
Dubai and "the world's only seven-star hotel"
One of the landmarks dominating Dubai’s waterfront is the Burj Al Arab. This sail-like building soars to 321 meters and houses a luxury hotel that one British journalist, overwhelmed by its décor and level of pampering, called “the world’s only seven-star hotel.”
It was built on an artificial island that was the first of several offshore constructions each larger than the last. The first was the Jumeirah Palm, (“the Eighth Wonder of the World!”) which doubled the length of the Dubai’s coastline and is the first of three planned palm-shaped islands, while The World is a series of a 300 man-made islands in the shape of a world map.
The Palm Jumeirah is the world’s largest artificial island and was built from all natural materials – rock and sand – at Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s request. Oddly, the sand had to be dredged from the ocean floor as the desert sand is too fine to maintain stability against waves. The size of the project, and the degree of innovation involved, has raised environmental concerns about the effect on sealife and the erosion patterns on the coastline elsewhere.
The Atlantis mega resort on the Palm Jumeirah, a mirror of the one in the Bahamas, offers more Dubai excess. With more than 1,500 rooms, the hotel’s opening night fireworks used seven times the amount of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony in 2008. This five-star resort has its own Dolphin Bay for guests to swim with dolphins (a “once-in-a-lifetime experience”) and Aquaventure (“the most exciting water park in the Middle East”), with a 61-meter-long waterslide that takes those brave enough through the shark aquarium in a transparent tunnel.
The hotel makes fine boasts about its conservancy program and the care it lavishes on the 65,000 marine animals in its “Lost Chambers” aquarium, but the 100,000 light bulbs it uses, most of them seeming to be left on all day, say more.