Demolition signals end of ‘a piece of Dubai history’
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.