November 26, 2008

Dubai parties despite economic gloom

News on 22 Nov 2008 --

While the rest of the world was tightening its belt, Dubai threw a US$20mil party on Thursday(20 Nov 08) complete with Hollywood celebrities like Robert DeNiro and a fireworks show that organisers said was visible from out space.

The party, which was headlined by Australian pop star Kylie Minogue in her Middle East debut, was to celebrate a new US$1.5bil marine-themed resort built off the Gulf coast on an artificial island in the shape of a palm tree.

Does this all seem a bit much at a time when much of the world is reeling from the global financial crisis?

Not really, according to Sol Kerzner, the chairman of Kerzner International, which owns the Atlantis Hotel.

"When you consider US$20mil, it's a lot of money (until) you consider it up against establishing a US$1.5bil resort," Kerzner said on Thursday.

The Atlantis resort opened for tourists in September. The hotel's top floor aims squarely at the ultra-wealthy. The hotel's top floor aims squarely at the ultra-wealthy. A three-bedroom, three-bathroom suite complete with a gold-leaf, 18-seat dining table is on offer for US$25,00 a night.

The rest of the resort is dedicated to family entertainment with a giant, open-air tank with 65,00 fish, stingrays and other sea creatures, including a rare whale-shark captured by the hotel in the gulf and considered a hostage by environmental activists.

There's also a dolphinarium with moe than two dozen bottlenose dolphins flown in from the Solomon Islands last year amid protests from animal rights organisations.

Thursday's lavish party is only one of Dubai's many attempts to remain in the spotlight -- part of the city-state's mteoric rise from little more than a patch of sand to the business and entertainment captial of the Middle East in about a decade.

Britain's most famous cruise ship, the Queen Elizabeth 2, will be sailing in next week and will be converted into a floating hotel off Palm Island. -- AP.

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