While Dubai is well-renowned for its plethora of super-luxury five-star hotels and residences, there are none quite like the Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai.
Since it opened a year ago, the sprawling golden property along the western edge of the Palm Jumeirah has redefined the meaning of opulence, bringing the extravagant European style of the Louis XIV era to the Middle East in an effort to become the “Palace of Versailles by the sea.”
This unique and impressive project began with the vision of one person—Nver Mkhitaryan, founder of the Emerald Palace Group Ltd. Having established the company in 2004, Mkhitaryan first oversaw the design and development of the Kempinski Residences & Hotel Apartments, also on the Palm Jumeirah, which opened in 2011. Seven years later saw the lavish launch of the Emerald Palace next door, which took three years to complete.
“I firmly believe that one will always be rewarded when he loves his job”
True to its name, the palace has already begun attracting royalty through its doors. In January 2019, the hotel became the headquarters of the Royal Club in Dubai, founded by descendants of some of the world’s oldest royal dynasties. The club was set up to host cultural, social, academic and philanthropic events that preserve centuries-old traditions and help those in need in developing parts of the world. “I truly believe that the global elite will recognize this noble initiative, which will help to make the world a better place,” says Mkhitaryan.
Now the businessman is looking forward to next year, which will mark the arrival of his next project—Kempinski Business Bay. The new five-star hotel in the emirate’s central business district will offer the finest of business luxury for travellers, albeit in a different style from the Emerald Palace.
With a number of prestigious international awards behind it already, the palace is making a name for itself across the globe as one of the world’s most luxurious hotels. Covering more than 130,000 square meters, the property is home to a host of self-contained facilities, including a diverse selection of high-quality restaurants and bars, a private cinema, indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness and wellness center, and a spa. There are also a number of royal villas for travel connoisseurs who appreciate a bit more privacy—whether they be international celebrities or luminaries.
“I drew on many years of professional experience as an architect and developer to create this masterpiece,” says Mkhitaryan. “Having travelled the world, I had the chance to understand, first-hand, the importance and value of impeccable comfort and service for the modern traveller. We managed to merge royal splendor with the latest technology, which ensures a great customer experience.
“I’ve lived three lives so far,” he laughs as he reveals the diverse background that has shaped his professional career. Born in the Soviet Armenia, Mkhitaryan has always been particularly curious and studious. The son of a famous writer and member of the Writer’s Union of the USSR, he grew up in modest surroundings, yet accompanied by thousands of books.
“We had an incredible library at home as my father spent all his earnings on the greatest examples of the world’s literature,” he remembers.
After graduating in architecture and construction from the National Polytechnic University of Armenia in 1982, Mkhitaryan was immediately assigned a role working on the construction of a new sports facility in the center of Yerevan—the capital city. At the time, Armenia was preparing to host an athletics world championship, and the country’s leadership was heavily involved in the iconic project, which demanded an almost 24/7 commitment. “Thanks to that challenging environment, I learnt how to define and accomplish my goals,” he says. Mkhitaryan soon earned himself a reputation for being hard-working and dedicated. In 1986, aged just 26, Mkhitaryan was put in charge of a construction material factory—realizing career goals way beyond his young years.
But the high-achiever was not completely satisfied with just the one path. So, having established himself in his chosen field, Mkhitaryan moved to Ukraine in the 90s to pursue scientific studies. By the time he turned 36, he had already earned his PhD from the Kyiv National University of Building and Architecture, and become a Ukrainian citizen. In his new homeland, the young entrepreneur noticed that there was a desperate market need, which demanded to be addressed. A lack of affordable new residences meant that many people were being forced to live in tough conditions. In 1996, he invested $10,000 in launching Ukraine’s first private real estate development company, Poznyakizhilstroy, and set to work developing comfortable living spaces that had not been seen before in the country. With this modest investment, and his excellent negotiating skills, Mkhitaryan succeeded in completing his first project. He acquired the land from the Youth Cooperative Society in return for a number of the finished apartments. He used the value of other apartments to pay for supplies, with the remainder sold on the open market to pay salaries. By the time the project was complete, Mkhitaryan found himself once again being recognized by the government—he was given a Distinguished Developer Award from the President of Ukraine.
“Those working in construction are always in demand. Our job is tough and it requires us to assume lots of responsibility, but we also shape the architectural heritage and history of some great cities,” says Mkhitaryan. By the early 2000s, Poznyakizhilstroy was a leading real estate company, employing more than 25,000 people and indirectly supporting thousands more. Within a short period of time, the company developed and sold more than a million square meters of residential real estate in Kyiv alone.
On the side, Mkhitaryan authored more than 300 scientific publications, including 14 monographs. He other achievements include that of being a professor, a Laureate of the State Prize of Ukraine in Science and Engineering, and a Corresponding Member of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine. He also founded the Institute of Renewable Energy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Mkhitaryan’s contribution to the country’s economy, science and society were largely recognised by the government. He received a Charter of Honour of the Parliament of Ukraine, and he is the full Chevalier of the Order of Merit. In addition, he received the Order of Yaroslav the Wise, the Order of Danila Halitsky and a number of other state and social awards.
It was at this time that Dubai first caught the eye of the now hugely-successful businessman. First as a luxurious holiday destination, and then as a business hub. Once he founded the Emerald Palace Group, Mkhitaryan made Dubai his home, leaving the Ukraine business to his eldest son to manage.
Mkhitaryan instantly recognized the great potential of the Palm Jumeirah. “The ambitious vision of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum made the Palm Jumeirah truly the eighth wonder of the world,” he explains. He set about putting his unique development skills to use. Having spent many years studying the art and science behind luxury and human comfort, he found out all he could about the available plots of land on the man-made island, including the tides and movements of the sea, the sky lines, the sunsets and the shade, and much more. Ultimately, the optimum location for his next project was chosen.
As such, guests to the Emerald Palace can be assured that the pool will be a suntrap for the maximum amount of time, the ozone level in the rooms and public spaces is optimum for their wellbeing, and the comfort level is just right. Mkhitaryan personally chose every material and accessory of the highest quality, made bespoke by the finest European manufacturers. More than 30,000 furniture items came from Italy alone. The wallpaper isn’t paper, it’s fabric. The gold isn’t just a color of paint—it’s genuine gold-plate. From every Swarovski crystal in the light fittings to the authentic marble pillars, the hotel has not been designed to look like a palace; it has been created to be a palace. “I firmly believe that true luxury is in the details. Classical architecture has its own set of rules and precise guidelines, and as long as you follow them, the result will be a timeless masterpiece that appreciates with time,” he says.
It’s this attention to details that makes this hotel—and this leader—stand out in a region where high-end luxury has become the base-level expectation. Aside from creating breathtaking property, Mkhitaryan also continues to nurture his inquisitive mind. Having already authored dozens of books, including the most recent “Man and Dwelling”, he is now working on his next one, in which he promises to share his thoughts on the secrets to success in architecture and development. He also hopes to continue working on projects that stretch him and enable him to express himself as an architect.
And the most important values behind his thriving leadership skills?
“It is always important to stay up-to-date, and to move forward together with the times we live in,” says Mkhitaryan. “I believe that the recipe for success includes profound knowledge and professionalism, as well as dedication, a positive work attitude and, of course, a bit of luck.”