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Meydan Jumeirah Hotel and Racecourse, Dubai

Issue 58 Dec / Jan 2010-11 : Retail : Hotel


With nearly eight kilometres of interior LED tape lights plus the world’s largest and longest LED trackside panel, a spectacular hotel overlooking an exclusive horse racecourse shines in Dubai. Bill Weathersby reports.

‘Meydan’ translated from Arabic means ‘meeting place’ and, indeed, Meydan City in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is a new crossroads of the world. The brainchild of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, the new city district will comprise four distinct sub-components: Meydan Racecourse, that hosts the high-stakes Dubai World Cup; Meydan Metropolis, a series of state-of the-art business parks; Meydan Horizons, where business towers will intermingle with luxury waterfront developments; and Meydan Godolphin Parks, a shopping destination graced with a signature architectural tower created in the image of a thoroughbred. Sheikh Mohammed supported the launch of the project and helped construct the development in an astonishingly short schedule of less than three years.

“Meydan is founded on the guiding principles of partnership, community, and sporting excellence,” says chairman of the board and CEO of Meydan, Saeed Humaid Al Tayer. “We have conceptualised and planned for an interconnected cityscape of four distinct districts where the worlds of business, sport, and cosmopolitan living merge and compliment each other.”

The first of the venues in the district to debut last March is the Meydan Jumeirah Hotel and Racecourse, a 285-room, five-star hospitality property directly overlooking the world’s most exclusive horse racing facility, which features to date the largest and longest trackside LED panel. The luxury hotel itself has nearly eight kilometres of interior LEDS, plus a multitude of dramatic lighting effects. Designed by TAK Architects, and its principal architect Teo A. Khing, of Malaysia and Dubai, enhanced by evocative lighting by CD+M Lighting Group of Atlanta and Dubai, the high-end hospitality property is an illuminated jewel in the desert.

“The project is very multi-layered, with expressive interior, exterior, landscape, and horse racing facility lighting,” says principal lighting designer Ted Ferreira. “At night, we wanted the hotel and racecourse grandstand to appear as a jewel box dramatically seen from the visitors’ approach.”

Inside the hotel, the first spectacular space to greet patrons is the 30-metre-tall atrium lobby, with guest room floors overlooking the arrival space. “It was a challenge to light such a tall, vertical, architectural cavity so it didn’t visually appear as a cave-like space,” says CD+M lighting designer Hilary Wainer. The eleven guest room corridors overlooking the lobby are lit with LED strip lights. For the lobby itself, the challenge was the “less than an inch” space the lighting team was given by the architects to illuminate the architectural shell. The solution was to use OSRAM tape lights within the tight cove that create a zig-zag pattern.

“We specified nearly five miles of LED tape lights within the public interior spaces,” Wainer says. “The key was to choose LEDs with very tight binning (the manufacturer’s product output coded to LED colour matching) so that all the lighting achieved a 3000K warm light.” Similarly, additional metal halide and cold cathode lighting effects in the lobby atrium approximate the same illumination levels and brightness.

At the floor level, decorative table fixtures are fitted with mostly warm white compact fluorescent lamps for a welcoming ambience.
In the lobby lounge, low-voltage halogen light fixtures are set on dimmers for an ambient glow. LEDs illuminate the bar, while Lucent downlights highlight the space.

Shiba, the Meydan’s signature Japanese restaurant, is enhanced by dramatic lighting. The venue features indirect, LED cove lighting with private dining rooms illuminated via LED strip lights set beneath steps. Decorative pendants are fitted with halogen lamps and in the all-day dining venue, backlit onyx columns are internally lit by LEDs set on dimmers to achieve a soft glow. Each table is also spotlighted by pairs of Lucifer MR16s. For a dramatic flourish, at the entrance of the all-day dining venue, an etched horse contained within a clear glass cube is illuminated by a single LED spotlight, “which makes the horse ethereally glow,” Wainer says.

As for the guest rooms, the lighting raises the bar above standard-issue hospitality. “Typically, hotel rooms rely upon downlights and table or desk lamps for illumination,” Wainer says. “Here we were able to give each room a more three-dimensional look by placing cold cathode, warm white light to outline coves in each corner of the space.” Additional halogen spotlights support the subtle lighting scheme.

As racing only occurs in Dubai between the winter months of November and March, because of the heat, Meydan hosts the Winter Meet, Spring Meet, the Dubai Racing Carnival, and the Dubai World Cup, the richest purse international race day. Sports lighting, particularly for horse race tracks, took on a new dimension at Meydan when CD+M designed a CIE83/169 compliant system to accommodate both television and special events. Approximately 700 Musco 1,500-watt LSG showlights are integrated into the façade and on the roof of the 1.2 km-long building, each equipped with a motor-controlled hood that rotates to black out each luminaire. Only four switches place the entire track into complete darkness from 2,500 lux in less than three seconds.

“The total racecourse system consists of more than 3,000 luminaires, 2,200 of which are mounted on 25-metre poles placed around the track,” says Associate Principal Bill Johnson. “Three programmable switching levels allow a total of six different light levels, all with identical uniformity. Meanwhile, the visors also reduce sky glow to a respective level.”

“Dubai had enjoyed fourteen years of an amazing racing legacy with (the former venue) Nad Al Sheba, but we were also acutely aware of the fact that with the increasing popularity of racing, growing turnouts at the races, and the demands of the international racing connections, Dubai needed a new facility that could cope with the expectations of patrons and horsemen in providing them with a facility that justified the nature of the sport,” says Saeed Humaid Al Tayer. The highlight of the winter will be the Dubai International Racing Carnival in January 2011 and the 16th Dubai World Cup on March 26, the highlight of the social calendar in the UAE.

And if you can’t book a trip to Dubai to watch the high-stakes horse races underneath heavenly light, coming to a theatre soon near you, shot at Meydan, is Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol, starring Tom Cruise. “We don’t think Dubai lacks for anything,” says Al Tyer. “But Meydan does add to the flavour and diversity of the city.”

Project Details
Meydan Jumeirah Hotel and Racecourse, Dubai
Client: Meydan City Corporation
Architects: TAK Architects
Lighting Design: CD+M Lighting Group

Lighting Specified
Zumtobel 2LIGHT Series
Lagotronics Lagoled
Aldabra Matrix BLOK & Matrix Micro
Lutron 7000 Series control
Musco LSG Show Lights 1500W
iLight Technologies Plexineon 2X White
we-ef Exterior Steplights
Louis Poulsen WEEBEE Opal LED
Oldham Cold Cathode 3000°K
Lucent ProSpex Series
Tokistar TokiLum White LED
Targetti Cove Projector & KR1 Series
Lucifer EDL Series Downlights
ETC Source 4 HID Ellipsoidals
Reggiani Low Voltage Downlights & Domino
ERCO downlights


The MUSCO ShowLight system, which spans across the rooftop and facades of the Hotel and Grandstands, can be blacked out at the push of a button... as seen on the eve of the World Cup by thousands of spectators during performances by Sir Elton John and Santan.

Pic: Daniel Cheong

  • Over a thousand metres of iLight Technologies Plexineon 2X sharply defines the sweeping crescent roof against the evening sky.

    Pic: Tony Walton

  • A combination of uplight, downlight, cove light and lighting the vertical planes help overcome the classic atrium challenge of avoiding a cavernous effect at night.

    Pic: Meydan/Momentary Awe Photography

  • Onyx panels surround each entry into the Atrium Lobby evenly backlit by strands of Tokistar TokiLume White LEDs.

    Pic: Meydan/Momentary Awe Photography

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