Put this story in the believe-it-when-I-see-it file, but People's Daily reports this week that a joint Saudi-Chinese consortium is planning to build a "seven-star" hotel partially modeled after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai -- currently the world's tallest building -- in the west of Beijing. According to the newspaper, officials in the city's Mentougou district say they will invest "at least" US$1.3 billion into the project, along with an undisclosed amount to be contributed by a group of Saudi partners. Speaking on how far the planning stage has progressed, senior Mentougou official Wang Hongzhong said that preliminary blueprints and graphics were ready, and that the hotel is being designed "as a stream-lined building like the Khalifa Tower in Dubai."
Of course, what exactly Wang means by this is open to interpretation. Already, some are taking the Burj Khalifa reference, to mean the hotel will be a carbon-copy of the Dubai original, with the Business Insider calling the hotel (sight unseen) "China's most audacious rip-off yet." Of course, with so little information out there, we simply don't know if the hotel will go beyond rote shanzhai and take a more original shape. What we do know at the moment is that planners are hoping to situate the hotel at the end of Beijing's Chang'an Avenue, in the Mengoutou district.
While this sounds interesting on paper, and we're excited to see if the project fully pans out, one kink we could foresee is the distance between Mengoutou district and tourist attractions like the Forbidden City, or Beijing's central business district. While Mengoutou isn't without its own tourist draws, most notably Lingshan Mountain (灵山) and historic sites like Tanzhe Temple (潭柘寺), it's going to take some convincing for the district -- even with a seven-star hotel -- to pull in tourists who would otherwise stay downtown.