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UAE prominent on list of space resort bookings

Plans to open the first hotel in space have already sparked interest among enthusiasts in the UAE, the Spanish architecture firm behind the project has revealed.

For a fee of around $4.4 million, The Galactic Suite Space Resort is offering a three-night stay in the hotel, which will orbit at an altitude of 450km above the Earth, following eight weeks pre-training at a base in the Caribbean.

The UAE already ranks second on the list of reservations from space fans around the world, beaten only by the US.

"It's very normal to think that your children, possibly within 15 years, could spend a weekend in space," Galactic Suite Ltd's CEO Xavier Claramunt, a former aerospace engineer, told Reuters Television.

Galactic Suite Ltd was set up in 2007 and is aiming to have the first guests checking into the hotel by 2012.

Guests will take off in Russian rockets from a site in the Caribbean and will reach a speed of 28,000 kilometres per hour within ten minutes after ignition.

Highlights of the stay will include being able to see the sun rise 15 times a day, circumnavigate the globe every 80 minutes, wear Velcro suits to crawl around the pods and to play with a 20 litres water bubble in the world's first zero gravity spa facility.

Space tourism is seen as a growing business sector in the UAE, with Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments buying a 32 percent stake in Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic for $280 million.

Earlier this month, at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Charity Ball, an all-expenses paid trip to the Virgin Galactic Space Ship launch in California was auctioned off, with the winning bid by Indy Chhina reaching dhs250,000 ($68,060.

Critics of the project question its viability in the current market and its ability to follow through on its ambitious plans.

However, Claramunt told Reuters that an anonymous billionaire space enthusiast has granted $3 billion to finance the project.

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