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Spectacular inauguration of a luxury hotel amid crisis

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-21

Just as Dubai begins to feel the pinch of the economic crisis, the emirate inaugurated a new luxury five star hotel built on an artificial island, with a star-studded "party of the decade", costing a whopping 20 million dollars.

Shrugging off the global financial crisis, Dubai overnight toasted a new luxury hotel with a 20 million dollar bash attended by film stars and sporting greats and marked by a spectacular fireworks display.

More than 2,000 world celebrities were invited to the event, which began Thursday night and continued into Friday.

Among those who showed up for what the local press described as the "party of the decade" were Hollywood stars Robert de Niro, Charlize Theron, Mischa Barton and Wesley Snipes.

Other notables who walked the red carpet at the 1.5-billion-dollar "Atlantis, The Palm" hotel included singers Kylie Minogue, who performed before the fireworks display, and Shirley Bassey, Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra and catwalk model Yasmin Le Bon.

Located at the trunk-top of the Palm Jumeirah, one of three palm-shaped islands, Atlantis occupies the entire central part of a huge breakwater.

The 1,539-room hotel is made up of two pale rose towers, which are linked by a bridge which houses a 35,000-dollar-a-night suite.

"Where we are now there was water five years ago," said Sultan Ahmad Bin Sulayem, the chairman of local developer Nakheel, at the inauguration.

The bash cost a hefty 20 million dollars, said Sol Kerzner, the South African billionnaire, hotel and gambling tycoon, who organised the party.

"We built something that's quite extraordinary. We've got to tell the world about it," Kerzner told AFP about the lavish hotel.

The hotel opened unofficially on September 24 and has had an occupancy rate of 80 percent, Kerzner said. "We don't know how long it's going to take for the economy around the world to take off again," he added.

The Dubai hotel is inspired by the original Atlantis that Kerzner built in the Bahamas but is not an average 5-star hotel.

It boasts the largest waterpark in the Middle East and a gigantic aquarium in which 65,000 fish, along with an enormous whale shark, swim in 11 million litres of water.

Date created : 2008-11-21