When Atlantis, The Palm opened in 2008, it attracted A-listers in full force

There were record-breaking fireworks, celebrities galore and a performance by Kylie Minogue

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More than 14 years after it opened its doors on Palm Jumeirah, Atlantis, The Palm remains one of Dubai’s most recognisible landmarks.

And now it stands proudly next to the city’s newest property, sister resort Atlantis, The Royal, which is set to celebrate its grand opening this weekend in spectacular fashion.

There will be fireworks, gala dinners, A-listers and a performance from global superstar Beyonce. Celebrity chefs will be on hand to cook for the invited guests, who will be among the first in the world to experience the luxury resort.

It might be the biggest party to take place in the city since the original Atlantis opened in 2008.

Back then, the towering structure, known for its signature pink shade and keyhole design, cut a lonely figure on the now-booming Palm Jumeirah.

At the time, The National reported that the $1.5 billion resort invited 2,000 guests to mark its lavish opening, attracting global stars, royalty and the attention of the world.

Among those in attendance were actors Charlize Theron and Robert De Niro, basketball star Michael Jordan and singer Kylie Minogue, who also performed at the event.

Mischa Barton, Lindsay Lohan, Mary-Kate Olsen, Lily Allen, Natalie Imbruglia and Sir Richard Branson were among some of the other stars who walked the hotel’s blue carpet.

In true Dubai fashion, there was a spectacular fireworks show to mark the opening, with the whole of Palm Jumeirah lighting up. Fireworks were placed around the manmade island’s crescent and along its fronds.

The party did not unfold without criticism, however, as it took place during the 2008 global economic downturn.

“It’s not the perfect timing to open a $1.5 billion resort,” Sol Kerzner, former chairman and chief executive officer of Kerzner, which built the resort, told Reuters at the time. “On the other hand, we don’t build something like this with the short-term in mind.

“I believe Dubai will come to be one of the top destinations in the world,” he added.

And it appears Kerzner, who died in 2020 at the age of 84, was right. Dubai has just been named as the world's number one destination by Tripadvisor for the second year running.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic halted global travel, Atlantis, The Palm also enjoyed a record year, welcoming more than half a million visitors and operating at 90 per cent capacity, the resort said.

It has undergone several updates since its inception, and this weekend will unveil its latest new feature — the world’s biggest Nobu restaurant. The famed Japanese outlet, which closed its former spot in the resort last year, will now occupy the space which formerly housed the ultra-luxurious Royal Bridge Suite.

Following Atlantis, The Royal’s grand opening party this weekend, the resort will welcome guests from February 11.

Spanning 63 hectares and housing 795 rooms and suites, countless hospitality venues and no fewer than 90 swimming pools, the resort’s opening has been anticipated for years.

It will have 17 restaurants, including the Middle East's first Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, from the famed British chef; Cantonese restaurant Hakkasan; and Ariana's Persian Kitchen by the Iranian-American celebrity TV chef and cookbook author Ariana Bundy.

A first look inside the new Atlantis, The Royal

Updated: January 20, 2023, 3:59 AM