Dubai, United Arab Emirates

With a perfect setting along the Gulf, sailboat-shaped Burj Al Arab is certainly the most expensive and lavish hotel in Dubai. Non-residents without a reservation in one of the hotel’s four restaurants must pay 100 dirhams per person just to take a peek inside this swanky place owned by HH General Shik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Crown Prince of Dubai and Minister of Defense of the UAE). Suites (the only option here) are palatial – even the smallest, and least expensive, deluxe suite is 170 square meters and about US$1000, after throwing in service and municipality charges. The royal suite covers 780 square meters and costs more than US$9000!

2 December 2000 – Visited Bur Juman, promoted as the most exclusive mall in Dubai. Inside are names like Christian Lacroix, Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Tiffany and an almost-opened Christian Dior, but none of these has any stock. Dubai is really the City of Gold and that’s the real reason to visit – for yellow and white gold, not tax-free clothing.

Later in the evening we went to swanky Burj al Arab, mainly to see this ‘seven-star’ hotel with four restaurants, which I'd read about. Looking down his nose at us, the guard said we'd need to pay 100 dirhams (about US$27)each in order to visit, so we made a restaurant reservation on the spot in order to avoid this ridiculous fee. Then the guard informed Jim that he was not dressed ‘smart casual’. The guard called to the hotel telling them he did not think Jim should be allowed entrance. Jim got on the phone, “Any restaurant in New York would let me in dressed this way”. That was a stretch, but really this guard, who didn't like Jim’s sneakers and jeans, was going a little too far.

Finally after 15 minutes we were allowed to enter this steel and stone, ship-shaped architectural masterpiece. After touring the public areas inside, I think the exterior is far superior to the interior, which is an opulent mix of chrome, steel and carpets of every imaginable vivid color – a little like Versace meets the Middle East. The highlight for Jim, and he was wowed like a child by this, was a fantastic fountain spurting water in various formations. Tariff listing has rooms beginning at 3300 dh (about US$1000 inc. taxes, etc.) and topping off at 25000 dh (about US$ 8000 inc. taxes, etc.) for the Royal Suite.


  Dubai Gold Souk
  Tax-free shopping and Burj al Arab (Paige)