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UAE: Dubai welcomes A-listers for extravagant opening of Atlantis, the Palm

Dubai_party With Denzel Washington, Robert DeNiro and Charlize Theron walking the red carpet under a sky bursting with what seemed a galactic storm of fireworks, Dubai was in the spotlight of extravagance Thursday night.

As the world wobbles to the woes of the global financial crisis, the Persian Gulf city, known for its excesses, hosted reportedly the most expensive private party ever thrown: A $20 million gala to celebrate a new luxury resort built on a palm tree-shaped artificial island.

Everything was designed to ooze wealth and chic at the launch of the 1.5-billion-dollar Atlantis, the Palm hotel.

Around 2,500 guests including Hollywood celebrities and star athletes, politicians and royals were present. The fireworks were seven times bigger than this year's Olympic Games opening ceremony in Beijing and "visible from space," according to organizers.

And the party was headlined by Australian pop star Kylie Minogue, who wore a black and gold corset and pants, designed by John-Paul Gaultier.

One disappointment, though, was that one of the most glamorous guests, Oprah Winfrey, was not able to attend. 

Sol Kerzner, the South African tycoon and the chairman of Kerzner International, which owns the Atlantis hotel, reportedly said at the party:

“From the beginning, I have been working with my team to create places where people can escape their everyday lives. Atlantis, the Palm is the realization of a vision. ... Tonight was a landmark event.”

The marine-themed resort started hosting tourists in September. The hotel has a gigantic aquarium with 65,000 fish and a rare whale-shark, as well as a dolphinarium with more than two dozen bottlenose dolphins flown in from the Solomon Islands, not without protests from environmental activists. 

The two pale rose towers of the five-star hotel contain 1,539 rooms, including a three-bedroom, three-bathroom suite that features a gold-leaf, 18-seat dining table for $25,000 a night.

With its giant tower, lavish hotels and fancy malls, Dubai has become in few decades a Middle-East hub for business and tourism.

The local English-language daily, Khaleej Times, described the party’s atmosphere as dazzling: 

“Mesmerized guests, including A-list celebrities, watched in admiration and wonder as one of the largest display in world unfolded in front of their eyes. Many stood on chairs and took innumerable photos to capture the show that was both fascinating and extravagant.”

Reporters from Dubai’s Gulf News blogged live from the party until 3 a.m.:

“On a more surreal note, massive pink dragons and jellyfish are snaking (is that the right word??) through the crowds offering culinary delights from mega chefs Giorgio Locatello and Nobu Matsuhisa. Dozens of men are dressed as gladiators as the story of Atlantis is told (the legend that is, not the building of this hotel).”

-- Raed Rafei in Beirut.

Photo: Fireworks over Dubai. Credit: Sky News

Comments () | Archives (9)

how funny, everyone talks about how much money they spent on the hotel, but its a business..thats called marketing..
and to say that the celebs should have donated the many of you would do that given the opportunity?
get off your high horses and stop something positive for once

Real Estate Bonanza in Dubai
Atlantis is just one of many gifts Allah(SWT) has bestowed upon muslim people to benefit and enjoy.
Wealth is blood of Islam poverty is shame to islam.

Why do people assume that when money is spent it disappears, never to be seen again? Among the people in the world who are NOT starving are all the thousands of people working for Atlantis and related businesses, including their suppliers. Our current financial crisis is an example of what happens when money STOPS moving. Those who have the imagination and the guts to put together major projects are not stealing money from the poor--they are taking responsibility for large quantities of money in such a way as to provide opportunities for a wide variety of other people.

yes but what a place just booked it for next year not as dear as you think
worth every penny
Rick from the UK

spend money in the way of ALLAH (SWT) , as ALLAH (SWT) has awarded you this rizq.
you all are answerable on day of judgement before ALLAH (SWT) for such acts... .... may be you are not realizing this reality which must be happen on one day with all human beings

more than 2000 people have been fired in Dubai due to the economical situation - and this is what we see at the end of the day ??????


Shame on all of them! A-List celebs, politicians, royalty... I am stunned... if anything you should have boycotted this type of activity and the money should have been donated to starving children, those losing their jobs right and left, and those poor, poor people who have no money, no food, no water, and disease. How disgusting that I see people like Michael Jordan and Robert DeNiro there to blow theire fortunes. When we go to heave God will not care about what you have, but what you've done!

There are millions of people starving in the world and they spent $20 millions to celebrate the opening of a hotel.
Shame on Dubai and SHAME of the the ROYALS and also SHAME on those that attended the party.

Yes, but one of the big unanswered celebrity questions is whether or not Israeli billionaire and human rights abuser Lev Leviev is at the event.

Leviev is a major builder of Israeli settlements and is involved in serious human rights abuses in Angola and Namibia where he mines and sells diamonds. Dubai supposedly banned him from selling his jewelry there in April, but it is being sold right there in the Atlantis, and sources in Dubai were saying Leviev was on the guest list. This would not be entirely suprising because Sol Kerzner, owner of the Atlantis, is the man who opened the Sun City resort in South Africa, that became a target of the anti-apartheid struggle, and Kerzner has in the past been accused of various other criminal acts.

See these two posts on Leviev in Dubai:

Report, despite ban, Leviev to sell jewelry in Dubai

It would be big news if Leviev is in Dubai despite his rights abuses in Palestine and in defiance of this ban. It would also be big news because he would be a major Israeli businessman at a celebrity event, mixing with Dubai's royalty.

Is there a news blackout on this, or did Leviev not attend? And what about his diamonds being sold in the Atlantis? And did the celebs wear his diamonds at the event?


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