Sunday, July 21, 2024


UAE: Work Set to Continue on Controversial Artificial Island Project The World Dubai

Construction company Dutch Docklands has confirmed that the next stage of the UAE’s’ much maligned World Islands project is set to continue, with Australasia touted as its latest addition.

The World Dubai - Aerial View from Wikipedia

The World Dubai – Aerial View from Wikipedia

Construction company Dutch Docklands has confirmed that the next stage of the United Arab Emirates’ much maligned World Islands project is at long last set to go ahead, as CEO Paul van der Camp reveals bold new plans to build and develop a brand new structure which will see one of the final missing pieces in Dubai’s extravagant puzzle finally drop into place: the continent of Australasia.

Representatives of Kuwait-owned OQYANA Real Estate are said to have signed a deal with floating island experts Dutch Docklands early last month, signaling an official end to seven years of stagnation brought about by the financial crisis of 2008. Currently known as OQYANA World First, the 20 island development will combine the commercial and the residential, with high-end villas, contemporary apartments and hospitality-retail elements all featuring within the plans.

“Having your own private island close by a world class city will be a unique opportunity for a very selective group of people that only want the best,” explained Paul Van de Camp, chief executive of Dutch Docklands, in a recent interview with The National. “This new development will diversify the already impressive Dubai real estate market to a new level of luxury. Each one [of our islands] will be a piece of art you can live in.”

Described as a sanctuary of supreme lifestyle, it certainly isn’t an understatement to describe the plans for OQYANA’s Australasia project as ambitious. It has been reported that the developers envision as many as 12,000 people taking up residency on the artificial archipelago. Indeed, plans published on computer aided design company CAAD Kaisersrot suggest that the final project could contain as many as 1,500 apartments over 580 plots and 4116,387 square meters.

“Our vision has always been to be leaders in the idea of the World, and it is now the right time to recommence activities and turn concepts into reality,” said Zeyad Abdullatif Janahi, chairman of OQYANA. “Dubai has always been the right destination for such projects and we will work together to be an integral part of Dubai’s real estate sector.”

The World Dubai

The World Islands - Image of The World by J. Patrick Fisher

The World Islands – Image of The World by J. Patrick Fisher

There aren’t many real estate projects capable of creating quite as much controversy as The World Islands. Unveiled by Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum back in 2003, the artificial island complex has been held up as both an incredible feat of engineering and innovation and a senseless waste – the most extravagant threat to the environment seen in recent years.

Built using sand dredged from Dubai’s shallow coastal waters, the islands lie four kilometers off the shore of Jumeirah and once formed a huge statement of intent for one of the world’s fastest emerging economic powerhouses – the United Arab Emirates. Investors were clamoring to secure their own slice of this ground-breaking development, with up to 60% of the available lots snapped up before even a day’s development work had taken place.

Yet, just five years later, in 2008, the future didn’t look quite so bright for Dubai’s daring development. Amidst a backdrop of a hard-hitting financial crisis and accusations of island erosion, The World was in danger of becoming a something of a white elephant, as international investors disappeared from the Emirates just as fast as they had arrived.

Even now, seven years after the financial crisis struck, a paltry two of The World’s 300 islands have been fully developed, namely Greenland, where Dubai’s ruler, Sheik Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum commanded the construction of a model home (often falsely linked to Formula 1 Legend Michael Schumacher), and – as of 2012 – on Lebanon, where a series of restaurants, beach cabanas and recreational areas have formed The Royal Island Beach Club: The World Dubai’s first ever operational resort.

Still, as the saying goes: the world wasn’t built in a day, and OQYANA’s plans for Australasia aren’t the only signs of optimism surrounding The World Dubai. Indeed, one particularly prominent development touted to begin soon is the Heart of Europe project, by Dubai-based Kleindienst Properties.

The company plans to radically transform six islands using “state of the art German technology” to create an incredible homage to Europe which will even see the continent’s infamous inclement weather make an appearance – with snow storms and showers replicated right in the middle of the desert!

According to Josef Kleindienst, the CEO of the Kleindienst Group, work will begin on the island of Germany, with Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden and St Petersburg soon to follow. “Dubai is well known for its innovation, ambition, excitement and intrigue,” said Mr Kleindienst. “It is not afraid of dreaming big and this development is a perfect fit for the emirate.” Latest predictions suggest that The Heart of Europe will be complete by October 2016.

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