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Dubai's The World: A paradise that never was

Last updated on: July 10, 2012 08:41 IST

Dubai's The World: A paradise that never was

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Before the sub-prime caught the world economy off-guard, Dubai was planning several mega-projects, including The World, an artificial archipelago of various small islands constructed in the rough shape of a world map, located four kilometres off the coast of the emirate.

The World islands are composed mainly of sand dredged from Dubai's shallow coastal waters, and are one of several artificial island developments in Dubai. The developer of the project is Nakheel Properties.

Let's take a look at the planned development.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Nakheel.com

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Dubai's The World: A paradise that never was

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The project was unveiled in May 2003 and dredging began four months later in September 2003. By January 2008, 60 per cent of the islands were sold, 20 of which were bought in the first four months of 2007.

On January 10, 2008, the final stone on the breakwater was laid, completing development of the archipelago.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Nakheel.com
Tags: , Dubai

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Dubai's The World: A paradise that never was

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Newspapers reported in September 2009 that work on The World had been suspended due to the effects of the global financial crisis.

And in February 2010, another paper reported that the islands have started sinking back into the sea.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Nakheel.com
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Dubai's The World: A paradise that never was

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This was later denied by Nakheel and independent technical reports as wholly inaccurate. Despite the denial, a newspaper reported in January 2011 that an independent company, Penguin Marine, provided verification on the erosion of the islands and the silting of the passage ways between the islands.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Nakheel.com

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Dubai's The World: A paradise that never was

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Due to finance and technical problems Penguin Marine, the company contracted to provide transportation to the archipelago, is reportedly attempting to get out of the annual fees of $1.6 million paid to Nakheel properties.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Nakheel.com

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Dubai's The World: A paradise that never was

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As of early 2011, only one of the islands was occupied by a building (a show home) on it, and commercial or residential properties are not currently being constructed on any of the other islands.

Property prices in the emirate have fallen 58 per cent from their peak in the fourth quarter of 2008.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Nakheel.com
Tags: , Dubai

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Dubai's The World: A paradise that never was

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The World was serviced by four major transportation hubs linked by waterways. Land parcels are zoned for various uses: estate, mid density, high density, resorts and commercial.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Nakheel.com
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Dubai's The World: A paradise that never was

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Utilities are routed underwater, with water plants at each of the hubs pumping fresh water to the islands. Power is supplied by the Dubai Grid and distributed through underwater cables.

Waste water and refuse systems are an individual concern for each island.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Nakheel.com

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Dubai's The World: A paradise that never was

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The islands were intended to be developed with tailor-made hotel complexes and luxury villas, and sold to millionaires. They are off the coast of Dubai and accessible by yacht or motor boat.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Nakheel.com
Tags: Dubai

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Dubai's The World: A paradise that never was

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Now their sands are eroding and the navigational channels between them are silting up, the British lawyer for a company bringing a case against the state-run developer, Nakheel, has told judges, according to the Telegraph, a British newspaper.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Nakheel.com

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Dubai's The World: A paradise that never was

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"The islands are gradually falling back into the sea," Richard Wilmot-Smith QC, for Penguin Marine, said. The evidence showed "erosion and deterioration of The World islands", he added, says the newspaper.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Nakheel.com

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With all but one of the islands still uninhabited - Greenland - and that one a showpiece owned by the ruler of Dubai, most of the development plans have been brought to a crashing halt by the financial crisis, it says.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Nakheel.com

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Nakheel, the developer, was part of Dubai World, the state-owned conglomerate that had to be bailed out of debts put at around $25 billion at the end of 2009.

The Dubai World Tribunal was set up to hear cases arising out of the restructuring and separation of the companies involved, says the Telegraph.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Nakheel.com

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The low-lying islands represent a vague shape out to sea when viewed from Dubai's beaches, but are visible by satellite or from the top of the city's Burg Khalifa, the world's tallest building, which opened to the public last year, it says.




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