Even in the midst of the global economy's current frailty, international hotelier Sol Kerzner couldn't help himself. Late last month, Kerzner, along with Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairmen of Dubai real estate development company Nakheel, threw a three-day, multimillion-dollar gala to coincide with the opening of the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. The opulent celebration was chock-full of heavy-hitting celebrities including Michael Jordan, Quincy Jones, Robert De Niro, and Charlize Theron. It included a spectacular lighting and pyrotechnics display as well as a private performance by singer Kylie Minogue. To top it off, renowned chefs such as Nobu Matsushisa and Michel Rostang prepared signature dishes for the 2,000 guests.
Such extravagance, however, doesn't match the recent news that Nakheel cut 500 jobs and scaled back some of its projects. Government-controlled Nakheel said in a statement that the 15 percent reduction in its global workforce is a result of the global financial crisis: "We have the responsibility to adjust our short-term business plans to accommodate the current global environment. The redundancies are indeed regrettable, but a necessity dictated by operational requirements which are in turn dependent on demand."
Atlantis, the Palm is the first resort to open on the Palm Jumeirah, an artificial, palm-shaped island created by Nakheel. Palm Jumeirah is one of three such islands collectively called the Palm Islands and self-dubbed "the Eighth Wonder of the World." Palm Jumeirah is the only island completed. Nakheel announced last month that it would scale back dredging work on its massive Palm Deira project, the largest of the three islands, which is planned to house 1 million residents.
The party had to stop somewhere.