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World's highest restaurant opens in Dubai

DUBAI, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) — Visitors and gourmets who plan to visit Dubai’s newest restaurant “At.mosphere” need a proper budget to dine there, as well as a head for heights. Located on level 122 at the world’s highest tower Burj Khalifa, the At.mosphere offers a luxury lounge and grill, along with a round to-down view at the sheikhdom in the Gulf.

Opened with a celebration Sunday, the At.mosphere tries to grasp a share in Dubai’s tough hospitality market, where some 30, 000 outlets struggle to lure hungry guests.

Mohammad Alabbar, chairman of real estate developer Emaar, which built the Burj Khalifa, told Xinhua that guests can expect an “unparalleled lounge and dining experience.” The At.mosphere is run by Emaar’s subsidiary Emaar Hospitality Group.

A closer look at the menu shows, however, that the At.mosphere is not a restaurant for everybody. Reservations have to be booked in advance otherwise the security will let nobody pass the barrier to the Burj Khalifa’s lift. The main lobster costs 590 dirham (160 U.S. dollars), while 150 grams of Japanese Kobe Fillet are priced at 440 dirhams (120 dollars).

Nevertheless, the stylish design and the view from 442 meter down on the skyline of Dubai’s business district are guarantees to attract guests, “a must-visit destination,” as Marc Dardenne, CEO of Emaar Hospitality Group said.

Dardenne hopes to attract wealthy tourists and business people from the nearby Dubai International Financial Center likewise.

“We already received lots of bookings, especially for our separate dining room for 12 people where privacy is guaranteed,” said Christina Sang, the Events Executive at the restaurant, which employs an international mix of staff, including waitresses and waiters from China.

U.S. designer Adam Tihany, who created the inner design of the At.mosphere, said he wanted to create a mood so that even people who have no head for heights will feel well while dining.

“The ceiling lights change in the evening, in order to create a sparkling ambience,” said Tihany, who has more than 25 years in international hospitality design, including work with the Shangri- La Hotels in Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore and Kuala Lampur.

The restaurant’s kitchen is led by Executive Chef Dwayne Cheer, who brings 13 years of global experience. However, whether the At. mosphere can help Emaar Hospitality’s mother company Emaar to attract investors, besides guests, is not sure.

While travel and tourism picked up in Dubai since mid-2010, investors still avoid to invest heavily in the emirate, whose stock market’s trading turnover plummeted by more than 60 percent last year.

Since the beginning of 2010, Emaar shares, which are listed at the local stock exchange Dubai Financial Market, have not created shareholder value as they trade up and down between 3-4 dirhams (0. 88-1.09 dollar).

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