Review: Afternoon Tea At Skyview Bar Burj Al Arab

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Introduction
Emirates First Class A380 Los Angeles To Dubai
Park Hyatt Dubai
Afternoon Tea At Skyview Bar Burj Al Arab
Lunch At At.mosphere Burj Khalifa Dubai
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai DXB
Emirates First Class A380 Dubai To Singapore
St. Regis Singapore
Westin Singapore
Singapore Airlines Private Room Singapore SIN
Singapore Airlines First Class 777-300ER Singapore To Melbourne
Park Hyatt Melbourne
Qantas Club Melbourne MEL
Qantas Business Class 737 Melbourne To Sydney
Park Hyatt Sydney
Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney SYD
Qantas First Class A380 Sydney To Los Angeles
SLS Hotel Beverly Hills
Oneworld Business Class Lounge Los Angeles LAX
Qantas Business Class 747 Los Angeles To New York
Park Hyatt New York
Dad’s Thoughts


When I think of Dubai, the first words that come to mind are bling, over the top(ness), and excess. And there’s nowhere that’s more evident than at the Burj Al Arab, the world’s self proclaimed seven star hotel.

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Burj Al Arab exterior

While I considered staying at the Burj Al Arab during this trip, I ultimately decided against it, since I didn’t think I’d actually enjoy staying there. The hotel actually doesn’t let you visit unless you’re staying there or have a reservation at one of their restaurants.

So one of the best ways of checking out the hotel without dropping $2,000+ for a night is by doing afternoon tea there. Now, I’ve done afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab twice before:

The afternoon tea experience at the Skyview Bar is infinitely better, so I’d highly recommend it. Personally I think if you’ve done afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab once that’s plenty, since it’s a pretty consistently over-the-top experience. That being said, I wanted my dad to experience it as well, so I thought it was worth returning to.

I made a reservation about six months in advance by emailing them at BAArestaurants@jumeirah.com. Now, it’s not necessary to book that far in advance, but in general you’ll want to make a reservation at least a few weeks in advance, or if you’re traveling over peak dates, at least a couple of months in advance.

The Skyview Bar has four afternoon tea seatings a day for afternoon tea, at 1PM, 1:30PM, 4PM, and 4:30PM. We made a reservation for the 1PM seating.

We arrived at the hotel at around 12:30PM. Upon pulling up we had to give the guard our confirmation number in order to be let on “the island.”

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Burj Al Arab entrance

The lobby of the Burj Al Arab is just obnoxiously over the top. In a cute way. As I said above, I had considered staying at the Burj Al Arab, though I can’t imagine staying there is actually fun, due to the hoards of tourists photographing every aspect of the lobby (and I’m one of them, so don’t get me wrong, I’m pointing a finger at myself here). 😉

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Burj Al Arab lobby

We arrived at the same time as a large tour group, which made for some good people watching.

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Burj Al Arab lobby

Based on the number of people snapping pictures, you would think Kim Kardashian was walking through the lobby.

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Burj Al Arab lobby

Admittedly the lobby is really impressive.

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Burj Al Arab lobby fountain

Like, mesmerizingly so.

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Burj Al Arab atrium

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Burj Al Arab atrium

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Burj Al Arab atrium

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Burj Al Arab lobby

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Burj Al Arab lobby

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Burj Al Arab lobby fountain

If you’re not actually a hotel guest you can only visit the lobby, and frankly that’s worth maybe planning about 10 minutes for, as there’s not that much to see.

The real reason to arrive early is because of how they prioritize seating, as I’ll explain below.

Anyway, the reception for the Skyview Bar is at the back of the lobby past the guest room elevators, and we got there at around 12:40PM, and were the first to arrive. The lady informed us we couldn’t go upstairs until 1PM so she suggested we tour the lobby more, but I said we’d be happy waiting. That’s because I wanted to make sure we were among the first few parties up.

Sure enough, at 12:55PM she let us in the elevator.

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar reception

The views of the Gulf from the elevator are pretty awesome, and the elevator sure is high speed.

The Skyview Bar itself can best be described as bling meeting shabby chic. Much like EVA Air’s Lounge in Taipei, it wouldn’t be out of place on The Love Boat.

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar

Anyway, as I said above, you want to be among the first few people to arrive for afternoon tea. That’s because you want one of the five or so tables by the right-most window, which overlooks both the Gulf and the coast. And seating is assigned on a first come first serve basis.

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar

We got what I consider to be the best table in the house, which is the one in the corner, giving you amazing views of the Gulf and of the coastline. The views are infinitely better than if you’re just looking out over the Gulf, which isn’t all that exciting of a view.

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea table

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar view

Our server, Erna, quickly introduced herself. She was the same server I had last time, and I remembered her being awesome, so was happy we got her again.

Afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab costs 560AED (~150USD) per person, and is served in seven courses. With that you receive unlimited coffee, tea, scones, finger sandwiches, pastries, etc.

The menu read as follows:

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As usual, service began with a glass of Louis Roederer champagne. For a cost of 260AED (~70USD) you can upgrade to a glass of Dom Perignon 2004, which definitely isn’t worth it, in my opinion. What’s funny is that the cost of an additional glass of Dom Perignon is the same as the upgrade cost from Louis Roederer to Dom Perignon. So if you really do want a glass of Dom, have a glass of the Roederer first. It’s basically “free.” 😉

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar Louis Roederer champagne

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar champagne

The champagne was served with a selection of dates.

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar dates

Next we were offered berry tarts, which were as delicious as they were beautiful.

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea berry tart

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea berry tart

Then we were offered the chef’s carvery of the day, which was some sort of beef with mashed potato puree.

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea chef’s carvery of the day

After the glass of champagne I ordered a caramel iced coffee to start, per Erna’s suggestion. The iced coffees are described as “chilled fantasies” on the menu, which is the understatement of the year. It was the most delicious iced beverage I’ve ever had.

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea caramel iced coffee

After that, finger sandwiches were served on a carrier which was shaped like the Burj Al Arab. Erna was downright disappointed when she found out we didn’t want any more sandwiches beyond what we were served.

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea finger sandwiches

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea finger sandwiches

After that we were served scones, mini cakes, pastries, creme brulee, etc.

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea homemade scones & pastries

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea homemade scones & pastries

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea homemade scones & pastries

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea homemade scones & pastries

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea homemade scones & pastries

Again, we were offered refills of scones and cakes, but we couldn’t even finish the ones we had, let alone stomach the thought of eating more. With that course I ordered a cafe latte, which was again delicious and beautifully presented.

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea cafe latte

The last course was a lychee and rose sorbet, which was light and refreshing.

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea lychee & rose sorbet

Lastly we were offered a box of chocolates to go.

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea chocolates to go

Once we were stuffed the bill came. All-in-all we were there for about 90 minutes, and were among the first to leave (most people seem to stay for at least 2.5 hours or so).

Did I mention I used the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to pay for afternoon tea, so I could earn double points and avoid foreign transaction fees?

Hey, I have to justify this afternoon tea post somehow. 😉

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Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar afternoon tea bill

Burj Al Arab afternoon tea bottom line

Afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab was over the top, blingy, and oh-so-Dubai. While it’s not cheap, it’s absolutely worth doing at least once if you can swing it. Obviously it’s crazy expensive, but I actually don’t think it’s a bad value when you think of how much you get for it, especially given that this is Dubai, and given that this is the world’s only (self proclaimed) seven star hotel.

If you’ve had afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab, what was your experience?

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Comments

  1. “Did I mention I used the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to pay for afternoon tea”

    This has to be in the top 5 of saddest affilate link product placements in this blog’s history.

  2. i am quite puzzled by this… why didn’t you use Citi Thank You Preferred so you could earn double points and avoid foreign transaction fees?

    LOL… agreed with Robert above.

  3. No foreign transaction fees with the Sapphire either, and many would say Chase points are more valuable than Citi, even with recent changes to make Citi more useful…

  4. just because Ben refers to a card he used to maximize his points doesn’t necessarily mean he is doing a product placement.

    Ben have you been to the one and only? They have a lovely weekend brunch- not cheap but not astronomical either. IT’s located on one of the fronds of the palm islands and offers a fantastic view of Dubai downtown.

  5. More importantly, what did Papa Lucky think? There should be a brief 1b to all of these posts for gis comments as well.

  6. My brother has a reservation for him, wife and two teenager kids at the Junsui Far East Asian Restaurant at the Burj Al Arab. The reservation clearly says: “This reservation does not provide access to additional areas of the hotel.” What is the difference from the access you have by having the afternoon tea at the SkyView Bar and the “access” he will have at this restaurant?

  7. Hey Ben! My husband and I have reservations at the sky bar for late night cocktails. Do you recommend that we switch to the high tea service?
    Thanks!

  8. Hi Ben,

    Great report! Because of their 15th anniversary, they are running a promo package that includes a Rolls Royce pick up, 170 m2 deluxe suite, 6 course dinner at Al Mahara and SPA credits for U$ 1630 / night for a minimum of two nights (http://www.viajedemilhas.com.br/burj-al-arab-no-seu-melhor/)

    Still not low enough for a mattres run, but maybe interesting to others who may want to experience it first hand.

    Safe travels!

  9. Ben – as a reviewer of fine products, how did you find the service level of the afternoon tea?

    On my last visit, I found it a bit “production line” and a little rushed and impersonal. Certainly not befitting of a $500 tea service.

    Your thoughts ?

  10. I had High-Tea at the Peninsula in Hong Kong a few days ago which looked very similar but at a third of the price was much, much better value!!

  11. someone has to foot the bill for this afternoon tea… (courtesy of an affiliate link). 😉

    aside from that, it seems that if i went there, i better go as if i was going to the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars LV… get my fill and refill and more refill…

  12. Could’ve used an Arrival card, that way you’d have earned 2X points AND been able to redeem points for the $300 tea service.

  13. “Did I mention I used the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to pay for afternoon tea”

    Well, it does feel like you haven’t pimped it out on us for a while…

    “just because Ben refers to a card he used to maximize his points doesn’t necessarily mean he is doing a product placement.”

    I can’t tell if you are being sarcastic or not…

  14. Two comments :

    a) I actually find that sitting at your “favourite” table near the windows is annoying because everyone else wanders over to look at the view and take pictures over your head. I prefer the tables just inside from those (next to the couches).

    b) All Burj Al Arab charges in my experience have posted as Lodging rather than Dining, so you wouldn’t get the First Friday bonus points.

  15. So you could sit there and just keep getting refills a la buffet for a couple of hours?

    Not sure if you’ve done a Sunday brunch in singapore, but if you have, what’s the comparison like as prices seem similar.

  16. There is the “Seven Stars Galleria” in Milano also: http://www.sevenstarsgalleria.com/photos

    I enjoyed lunch at the Burj Al Arab when I was in Dubai 4 years ago ( https://secure.flickr.com/photos/dylans/14108327386/in/set-72157626431553846 and https://secure.flickr.com/photos/dylans/14131499965/in/set-72157626431553846 ) at Al Muntaha which is on the same level as the Skyview Bar (and has a view of the other side of the coastline). We shared a cote de boeuf as a main, and the waiter actually cut the steak into small pieces for my friend which she thought was hilarious, and when we couldn’t finish it and asked to takeaway the leftovers, they made me sign not one but two waivers that I wouldn’t sue them if I got sick from eating leftover meat. Apparently the first one was an out of date version of the form. Also, we ate a late lunch, and for the last 30 minutes or so, we had the restaurant to ourselves and could enjoy the entire view.

    As you’ve said, I highly recommend going here, as it’s a pretty amazing experience to have, at least once.

    @Santastico: It means you have access to the lobby and the restaurant and the public areas. It means you don’t have access to the pool, beach, gym, guest rooms, etc.

  17. Wise choice not to stay there. At $2000 a night it would be like flushing money down the toilet. That is one of the reasons I avoid resorts. You feel trapped and guilty not to use the facility ( because you are paying all that money) and then you miss the real culture outside.
    Also I find the decor very tacky and exaggerated. The Hotel is gorgeous on the outside, then you walk in and all the colors make it look like as if you were in a Disney version of the 1001 Nights. I would not be surprised if during the design phase they did not thought of an Aladdin-magic-carpet-ride moving effect over your head while you are checking in.
    The same goes to Emirates first class. All the gold and lights…horrible. I much prefer something beige with soft tones of brown and maroon. The Apartment in Etihad is like that. Nothing jumps at you. Same thing for Singapore and a bunch of the other airlines. I am a true believer that less is more. The same goes for elegance and charm.

  18. Holy Bejeez! Who the hell is responsible for designing the area shown in the first photo of the lobby??? And what is with the vagina on the ceiling ffs??????????????

  19. How can you call VAT “ridiculous” and yet voluntarily pay somebody an extra 10% of your entire bill merely for doing their job?

  20. @ TEX277 — You’re talking about the 21% VAT in the UK vs. tipping in a country where it’s appropriate to do so? If so, I’d rather money go in a hard working server’s pocket than the government’s pocket.

    But not sure I follow?

  21. @ Andrew — Right, you could get more of the scones, cake, etc., though it’s so much food to begin with. Presumably you could sit there until the next seating if you wanted to. As far as the brunch comparison goes, you can’t really compare afternoon tea with Sunday brunch, in my opinion. Totally different in terms of what you’re getting.

  22. @ worldtraveller73 — It definitely is a bit “production line” like, which is also why they start seating at the window and then continue seating in order in the restaurant. That being said, I kind of expected that, and I find that they’re very attentive and personal within the realm of trying to keep everything moving smoothly. So I can’t say I had an issue with how the service was executed.

  23. @ Melissa — I haven’t done cocktails there, but I really enjoy the afternoon tea, so would recommend it. Enjoy your visit regardless!

  24. you are pretty terrible at food reviews
    “Then we were offered the chef’s carvery of the day, which was some sort of beef with mashed potato puree.”
    While I can’t be certain, it looks like a tenderloin with bernaise sauce.

  25. Great review & pics! Thanks for the preview – I’m actually going to be there in about 3 weeks. Just wondering – I emailed to request a reservation and received a 1:30PM time slot. Being as there is also a 1:00PM time slot and since it’s first come, first-served… would that almost guarantee no shot at a window-side table since I assume those that have the 1:00PM would have occupied them already?

  26. @ Jack — I’d definitely do 1PM or 4PM, as they’re basically just filling in seats at the other seating, so won’t be nearly as good.

  27. Expensive? Judging by how much they overfill the wine glasses you get 50% more than the standard measure! This was for 2 people no? You can request a private room in the restaurant but main charge from memory is 500 a head minimum of 4. Remember in this part of the world alcohol is only avaible in selected hotels and areas. If a local wants a drink you pay local prices really!

  28. Ben, Sean raised a point about charges posting as lodging instead of restaurant and you skipped his comment in your response. Are you sure the charges posted as restaurant and not lodging?

  29. Had tea with parents and bro 2 yrs ago and we were disappointed.. good service and everything but the food itself was very mediocre (I do realize that my family is considered picky..!!) My parents like to compare every afternoon tea service to the stuff they used to serve at Dorchester in London in the 1990s……

    We checked out the hotel since it was off limits to non-hotel guests and non-diners.. and we thought it might be nice to try the (Middle Eastern?) restaurant (the one decorated in red) off the lobby.. anyone tried that before?

  30. Hi Lucky,

    Nice review, i just called to book and right now it is going for 620 AED and I think it is too high, is it worth I go even with the higher difference in price?

    Thanks

    mf.

  31. @ MFR — That’s a toughie, surprised they raised prices. I’d say it’s probably still worth it if it’s a special trip. It’s an experience for sure.

  32. Thanks, I think we will try it.

    On another note, do you know which Etihad planes have the new livery? Right now I’m in Abu dhabi airport and I am seeing a tail with the new design. But can’t figure which plane it is. I’ll be visiting the site of the expansion plans for the airport and am really excited for the chance of some good plane spotting.

  33. had the afternoon tea almost 6 years ago and enjoyed it (but I also love Vegas for its glitzy vulgarity) – service was attentive without being cloying and yes there was a lot of food – we may have ordered 1 more round of scones since I love scones, but it certainly was not because we were hungry! our view was over the gulf, which is a bit boring, but we had no problem walking over to the other side of the room to catch the very cool shadow of the hotel over the Palm (I think we had a late seating as my friend had to finish work before we headed over to the hotel) – one of those experiences that is very much of-that-place, and if you are in Dubai, it’s a must!

  34. @ Lucky – is there a two-person minimum or can you do this alone? Have a local friend but he might think it’s too touristy 🙂

  35. Looks like the Skyview bar is closed on Sundays and that’s the only day I’ll be in Dubai. Should I bother booking a table at the Sahn Eddar or would you say there are better alternatives in Dubai?

  36. I loved your comments regarding the tea. We have reservations for January 12.
    Arriving early is such a great idea. Thank you.

  37. HI
    Is there any time limit as to how long you can stay? We wanted to check the tranistion from day to night

  38. Hi Ben,

    I had reservation for Skyview Bar. Unfortunately, due to some last minute changes, we ended up at Sahn Eddar. It was a great experience.
    Sahn Eddar serves the same seven courses. The only differences: view, missing “Chilled Fantasies” and 120AED cheaper than Skyview Bar. I was disappointed when I couldn’t find “Chilled Fantasies” in the menu. Luckily, I showed your blog picture to the server and she said “Mocktails are not included in the Sahn Eddar’s menu, but since you asked, you can have as many as you want. The most important thing is you are happy with the experience at Burj Al Arab.” The iced caramel coffee was delicious! We ordered one regular and one vegetarian; many of the vegetarian sandwiches were more flavorful than the non-vege sandwiches.

    For At.mosphere, I had reservation for 5:30pm window seats, min. 250AED per person. We were in time for the beautiful sunset at 6:10pm. Food was ok.

    Last, I like to recommend the hi-tea at Emirates Palace Hotel (if you haven’t tried),160AED per person. For drinks, I ordered the un-refillable ultimate drink, 24K coffee (the best!), and shared my husband’s unlimited tea. Drinks with gold, pastries with gold and yummy dried dates…

  39. Thanks for the review, I just visited the Burj Al Arab yesterday for tea service at the Skyview. Price raised to 620 AED without the carver special of the day. I wasn’t offered a box of chocolates and the service seemed just above average as the whole experience felt I was on a assembly line. Total with 10% tip essentially come out to a shade under $200 USD.

    Drinks were fantastic from the gold oolong, whole rose bud tea, and caramel coffee. Finger sandwiches were hit or miss but the sorbet was stellar. Barely nibbled on the scones and pastries as I couldn’t pace myself.

    What was a bit disappointing was the security gate wouldn’t let me through until 12:30 pm for a 1 pm reservation. Instead they gave me the option to bake in the sun next to the Wadi drop off area (near the cab station) or go take a cab and come back as suggested by the guard. Pretty surprised to be put in my place as a second class guest but then again I didn’t spend 2k a night but rather $200 for the experience. I didn’t regret giving this a go but I’ll retire Burj Al Arab permanently from any to do list.

  40. Hey Lucky
    I just visited Dubai and partook of the afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab. Nice touch I should mention is that when I upgraded from the “regular” champagne to Dom 2005 they bought me a set of silver engraved cufflinks for making such a good choice. I have to admit it was an amazing experience and a must do for anyone visiting Dubai.

  41. We are visiting in March and is family Birthday whilst there. Would love to do afternoon tea but very confusing knowing who to book with? Prices range from £115 – £350 for the same thing any advice? Suggestion?

  42. Hi there! I know I might be a bit late here but this post was very helpful. I’ve just booked afternoon tea for me and my husband at Skyview (13.00pm). They charge 620AED per person and an extra 100AED per table for window seating. I was just wondering, if we are the first ones there, will they seat us automatically at the best table? (The one you mentioned) Or we should specifically ask for it? I don’t want to come off as rude for being to eager. It’s a lot of money and I would like to get the best out of the experience. Thank you!!

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