De­mo­li­tion sig­nals end of ‘a piece of Dubai his­tory’

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By Shoshana Ke­dem One of the first ho­tels built in Dubai will close its doors for the last time at the end of Au­gust.

When the Ra­mada Ho­tel opened in Bur Dubai in 1983 there was noth­ing but desert sur­round­ing it and it has be­come some­thing of a land­mark to local res­i­dents, and a home to its guests and staff.

Local res­i­dents and the ho­tel’s staff, some of whom have worked there for more than 30 years, say a piece of Dubai’s his­tory will be de­mol­ished when the build­ing is bull­dozed at the end of the sum­mer.

“It was the first four-star ho­tel in the area when there was noth­ing but desert in Bur Dubai,” said Senol Sarisen, the Ra­mada Bur Dubai’s Gen­eral Man­ager who added that it was in Dubai’s old city where most of the pop­u­la­tion orig­i­nally set­tled.

Built in 1983 the ho­tel’s rick­ety in­fra­struc­ture and boxy, old Ara­bian style build­ing will be razed to make way for a five-star ho­tel com­plex with res­i­dences and re­tail shops, it’s own­ers Ab­jar In­ter­na­tional an­nounced last Thurs­day. Sarisen, who has worked at the ho­tel for nearly four years, said ren­o­va­tion can only go so far. “You can ren­o­vate it but it will only go on for an­other seven or eight more years,” he said. “It doesn’t fit any­more. It’s part of the old city, but the old city is chang­ing. There are other de­mo­li­tions hap­pen­ing in the area, and new build­ings com­ing up like the St Regis which is just 5-6 min­utes away,” he said. “In the end you’re go­ing to have to com­pete with these ho­tels as well.” Sarisen said that while many guests are im­pressed by the clas­sic sim­plic­ity of the ho­tel’s old­world in­te­rior, from the out­side the ho­tel is no longer up to the chal­lenge of a fe­ro­ciously com­pet­i­tive mar­ket.

The ho­tel’s 185 de­voted staff, many of whom have been there since the ho­tel opened 33 years ago, will be moved into one of the com­pany’s other prop­er­ties.

Sarisen added the rights to the ho­tel’s five restau­rants, in­clud­ing the pop­u­lar Chi­nese res­tau­rant Dy­nasty and the ho­tel’s In­dian res­tau­rant Tamarind, are up for sale as well.

“Many of the staff have spent their lives at the ho­tel. I’ve seen them cel­e­brate their 25th and 30th an­niver­sary there,” Sarisen said.

Front Desk Man­ager Gune Tunga (pic­tured) has worked at the ho­tel for the last 29 years.

“It’s like our home, our fam­ily is now gone with the wind, and there’s noth­ing we can do about it,” Tunga said.

It is not yet de­cided what brand the new ho­tel will be or when it will be com­plete, but the prop­erty will re­main un­der the Ab­jar In­ter­na­tional mast­head.

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