The Burj Al Arab (Tower of the Arabs) was conceived in October 1993 and completed on site in 1999. The brief to the architect was to create an icon for Dubai, a building that would become synonymous...
I actually used to go to the hairdresser in the Burj. It was the only way I was allowed in to the hotel. My impression is YES it is beautiful and YES it is opulent BUT i found it was just a bit TOO over the top and therefore a little intimidating. The only way other than actually paying to stay there to physically be able to be allowed in to the hotel is to make a booking for HIGH TEA. It is i think around US$100 per person but the food they give you is very nice AND it allows you to see the hotel. It's a bit expensive for a sightseeing option but its something worth doing...even if its just to be able to brag to your friends that you have been inside.