Officials named the proposed hotel Burj al Arab Arabic for “the Arabian Tower.” It was to be part of the Jumeirah beach area. But Wright did not want to build the hotel right on the beach. It would block out the beach’s sun for most of the day. Instead, they would build the hotel on an artificial island 919 feet (280 m) offshore. A winding causeway (road raised above the water) would connect the beach and the island. Workers began building the island in 1994. They first sank temporary piles into the seabed. They then put banks of large rocks around the piles.
This formed a sort of pool. For the next step, the seawater was removed from the center of the pool. It was replaced by a layer of rocks. Workers laid concrete webbing around the outer edge of the banks. The webbing keeps the foundation rocks from washing away. It also breaks the waves as they hit the island. Construction workers drove 250 permanent piles 131 feet (40 m) through this rock foundation and into the seabed. They then laid a concrete floor 6.5 feet (2 m) thick at the base of the island. They added walls around the piles to keep out sand and rock. The floor and walls formed the basement of the hotel. Construction of the island took three years.