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New Dubai getting old

New Dubai getting old

Anyone would think the old Hard Rock Cafe in Dubai had been around a hundred years. Nowhere near, it turns out, but we guess in Dubai terms it’s still ancient.

August 18, 2010 11:44 by

New Dubai is getting old, it would seem, judging from the levels of nostalgia seen for the old Hard Rock Cafe on the edge of Media City. The building, a miniature Empire State Building, is not exactly ancient – it opened in 1997, just 13 years ago. But it is already redundant – it’s been empty since early last year, and is now scheduled for demolition to make way for… go on, guess! If you said high rise apartment buildings, have a gold star.
Back in 1997, Hard Rock was the last point on Sheikh Zayed Road before the desert began, according to the National (though the National is only two years old, so what the heck would they know). It thrived for 12 years as developments sprung up around it, but ultimately had to close last year thanks to alcohol laws (it had shared a liquor license with the Palm Hotel, but that shut down). Hard Rock became a Dubai landmark with its two giant guitars – marking the entrance – visible from Sheikh Zayed Road.
But now the famed cafe is set to return. The chain plans to open a new branch, located at Dubai Festival City, in the coming months. The new outlet will be the largest outside of North America, with space for 300 guests.
The news has received heavy coverage, and prompted residents to talk nostalgically about the old Hard Rock, which in the National’s words “was [originally] the largest building in sight. As Dubai’s many towers rose around it, the restaurant became a favourite hang-out for celebrities and off-duty US military personnel.” In fact before it closed, a Facebook campaign to save it garnered more than 10,000 members.
Sadly, Kipp doesn’t remember the bygone glory days of the Hard Rock – we’re too young. Do you remember them? Was it as great as everyone says? And do you think the new site can live up to these nostalgic standards? It sounds like it could be tough for the new site to meet the rose-tinted expectations.
On a side note, a few people have criticized the plan to erect a 118-feet (sorry, 36 metre – must remember we’re all going metric) giant guitar outside the new site (the world’s biggest, of course), but it has to be said: what exactly did you expect? This is, after all, a novelty restaurant chain. And this is, after all, Dubai. Maybe 13 years from now, the new guitar will be as iconic as the old ones have become.

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  1. Yousif on August 18, 2010 1:00 pm

    i remember driving to dubai from bahrain, when it was basically desert, and as you approached dubai from the south west, you passed the hard rock cafe, all alone by it’s lonesome… then after a few miles, you’d see the dubai world trade centre… and that was it.. no other significant buildings this side of the creek. we stayed in a little 2star hotel in bur dubai, and shopping was al-ghurair mall and the souq.. this was… 1991-1992? when ace-of-base were top of the charts.

    hehe what fun!

  2. Andrew on August 18, 2010 1:39 pm

    Hard rock was opened in Dubai back in 1997, not even close to 91/92.

    And I remember when the English College school was the edge of Dubai.

  3. Yousif on August 19, 2010 10:12 am

    maybe it was a rip-off restaurant? we have one of them here too…


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