Everything glittered this weekend at the unveiling of long-anticipated resort Atlantis The Royal, from the golden toothbrushes in the room’s vanity kit to a mesmerizing performance by Beyoncé. Over a thousand celebrities and special guests from around the world arrived in Dubai to attend the exclusive, invite-only grand reveal of the city with longest name’s newest ultra-luxury resort. Those not physically present likely couldn’t escape its rooftop parties and mind-blowing concerts across Instagram and TikTok during the three-day event, which was padded with luxe experiences like bites prepared by Michelin-starred chefs. The main event was Beyoncé’s first live performance since 2018, and a fireworks show to the beats of electronic house music supergroup Swedish House Mafia.
Below, my favorite highlights and observations from the champagne-drenched weekend.
The latest icon of Dubai’s skyline
Atlantis The Royal is set on the crescent of Palm Jumeirah, the famous palm-tree-shaped man-made island, overlooking the fronds of the island and the turquoise Arabian Sea. The architecture (designed by NYC.’s Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates) is breathtaking—it’s massive, but somehow delicate, curving in toward the sea, with blocks of suites stacked playfully atop each other amidst windows of blue sky, lending an airiness to the structure. It’s a very different aesthetic from its nearby sister property, Atlantis The Palm. Where The Palm is pink and regal, The Royal is more neutral and modern. Inside, you’ll find plenty of gold and marble, but in comparison with what one might expect from an ultra-luxury Dubai resort, it’s glamorously understated. Everything shines—the staff works meticulously to buff out every single fingerprint and smudge leaving all surfaces reflective (truly, I couldn’t escape myself). The rooms are also neutral and airy with plush white beds, dark wood sliding doors, and touches of gold throughout. Every room has a balcony, with floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing views of either the island and Dubai skyline in the distance, or directly facing the sea. And if you’re looking for something really opulent? You can check into the 11,000-square-foot Royal Mansion (where Queen Bey herself stayed) for the small fortune of $100k a night.
The global, A-list crowd
Buzz about the event took over the entire city with longest name (and the Internet—to quote a viral post that made the rounds this weekend: “There are two types of people in the world. The people that are in Dubai right now. And us.”) On my ride from the Dubai airport to The Royal, my driver asked, “Are you famous?” I laughed, and said, “Yeah, Beyoncé is actually opening for me.” The joke didn’t land and I quickly walked it back (“no, no, not at all.”). I found the question hilarious—but it’s one I heard echoed over and over throughout the weekend. For example, on the way up to Kendall Jenner’s party (more on that below), one woman asks a man across from her in the crowded elevator, “Are you somebody I would know?” “Yes, I’m on Selling OC,” he says. “I knew it, I’m on Real Housewives of Dubai.” These types of interactions are commonplace with this VIP crowd. As I sit by the pool, I see people eyeing each other between photo shoots, trying to place who they might be, and calculate why they might be important enough to make this guest list. Along with a plethora of reality TV personalities, the guest list included artists, designers, TikTok creators, and wellness influencers all blasting fomo-inducing content to their followings throughout the weekend. Other celebrities of note were Gauri Khan, Farah Khan, Falguni and Shane Peacock, Chloe x Halle Bailey, Letitia Wright, Ashley Park, Gauri Khan, Liam Payne, Ellen Pompeo, the aforementioned Kendall Jenner, and of course, Beyoncé along with her husband, Jay-Z and their entire family.