The beachfront area where Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach Hotel are located was previously called Chicago Beach. The hotel is located on an island of reclaimed land 280 meters offshore of the beach of the former Chicago Beach Hotel. The locale’s name had its origins in the Chicago Bridge & Iron Company which at one time welded giant floating oil storage tanks, known locally as Kazzans on the site.
Design and construction
The Burj Al Arab was designed by multidisciplinary consultancy Atkins led by architect Tom Wright. It is very similar to the Vasco da Gama Tower located in Lisbon, Portugal. The design and construction were managed by Canadian engineer Rick Gregory also of WS Atkins. Construction of the island began in 1994 and involved up to 2,000 construction workers during peak construction. It was built to resemble the billowing spinnaker sail of a J-class yacht. Two “wings” spread in a V to form a vast “mast”, while the space between them is enclosed in a massive atrium.
The hotel was built by South African construction contractor Murray & Roberts / now renamed Concor and Al Habtoor Engineering and the interior works were delivered by UAE based Depa.
The building opened in December 1999.
The hotel’s helipad was designed by Irish architect Rebecca Gernon. The helipad is above the building’s 59th floor, and has been used as a car race track, a boxing ring, a tennis match, and the jumping off point for the highest kite surfing jump in history.