Extravagant opening of Dubai resort ignores financial crisis

Hotel News - 24/11/2008

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At a reported cost of $20 million, the party on Thursday attracted celebrities from around the world, and culminated in a fireworks display that was supposedly visible from outer space.

Australian singer Kylie Minogue was brought in to entertain the glitterati, making her debut in the Middle East and being paid $4 million for her performance.

The over-the-top celebration launched the UAE’s new $1.5 billion resort, Atlantis The Palm, that was built on an artificial island made in the shape of a palm tree, off the coast of Dubai.

To some, the cost of the event may seem extravagant, but not so to the chairman of the company owning the hotel, Kerzner International.

Sol Kerzner, the company chairman, commented to the Associated Press: "When you consider $20 million, it's a lot of money (until) you consider it up against establishing a $1.5 billion resort."

Nakheel, the state-owned firm that built Palm Island, shared the cost of the $20 million grand opening with Kerzner International.

"If I had it all over again and I understood that the timing was what it was, one might modify a couple of the things ... but not significantly," said Kerzner, who just last week announced significant layoffs at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas.

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