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by GT Staff |

South African casino mogul Sol Kerzner threw a massive $20 million party to
mark the grand opening of his new $1.5-billion Atlantis resort on the man-made,
palm-shaped Palm Jumeirah archipelago in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Thursday

The new 1,539-room resort is the second Atlantis resort in the head of
Kerzner International’s stable and was modeled after its Nassau, Bahamas
property. The new project is a partnership with Dubai-based developer Nakheel,
the state-owned creator of the palm-shaped island on which the hotel sits.

The massive project is one of several in the wealthy Arab emirate which is
one of seven semiautonomous city-state that make up the UAE.

The beautiful salmon-colored hotel

which overlooks the mainland of Dubai

includes an open-air aquarium and the Mideast’s largest water park.

Kerzner said the celebration, which included a lavish fireworks show, was
planned long before the world economy fell into a downturn.

“The hotel is a $1.5 billion investment,” the 73-year-old said in an
interview. “It would be a huge mistake not to launch it worldwide as
effectively as we possibly can.”

Although room rates at the new Atlantis range from $800 to $25,000 a night,
Kerzner thinks Dubai will be okay for the long run.

“We would have preferred obviously for economies to be buoyant and growing,”
Kerzner said. “But on the other hand, you don’t develop this on the basis of
how we’re going to do in the first two or three years. A medium-term view
makes sense.”

Meanwhile, Kerzner’s company is putting all expansion projects
aside from two almost completed ones in Cape Town, South Africa and Casablanca,
hold for the time being, including a $6 billion joint venture with casino
operator MGM MIRAGE and a Nakheel affiliate in Las Vegas at the corner of Las
Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue.

Although the grand opening was thought to be a sort of coming out party for
the Palm Jumeirah, the now famous man-made archipelago is still under
construction with the residential development still clogged with cranes, trucks
and construction workers.

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