“We opened our doors in February 1979, with five outlets including the Red Lion English Pub. HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, God rest his soul in peace, inaugurated the place. I remember very well when Sheikh Rashid looked around and laughed. He said “Khalaf’s hotel is like a donkey that is tied to tree in a salty dry land.” Of course he was joking. Sheikh Rashid had a great vision for Dubai and knew what Sheikh Zayed Road would become which is why he gave me that land”.
The hotel will be officially closed on 15 March 2012 to be demolished and make way for a 1616 room hotel complex.
“Though I am sad to part with the Metropolitan, because it is full of fond memories, and I am sure it is the same for all our guests here tonight. I am very excited to witness the completion of Habtoor Palace, and to see what it will add to our country’s landmarks”.
The low key event started at 7:00 pm. Mr. Al Habtoor addressed the crowd thanking the guests for their loyalty and told them: “We’re here to celebrate 33 years of success and we look forward to continuing this relationship in the future”. The entertainment was handled by the band that played in the hotel back in the early 80s.
The construction of the new hotel will start in April 2012, and is scheduled to be completed in 2016. “Many of the Metropolitan Hotel’s outlets such as Red Lion and Don Corleone will be brought back in the new property so we’re not saying good-bye to our guests. This is just an interruption in a long relationship which we hope to resume in the years to come and to continue for a long time.”
“It is true that we are demolishing one of Dubai’s historic landmarks, but it will be replaced by another bigger landmark for the future.”
The Al Habtoor group, while sad to part with their first venture, are eager to start the new project saying: “This is not an end; this is the rebirth of a great monument”.