Thu. Jun 20th, 2024

The failure of The World: what happened to the artificial islands on which Dubai spent $15 billion

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jun10,2024

The failure of The World: what happened to the artificial islands on which Dubai spent $15 billion

In recent decades, Dubai has amazed the world with the wonders of modern engineering: the tallest skyscraper in the world, the Burj Khalifa, the most luxurious hotel in the world, the Burj Al Arab, and the unique artificial island of Palm Jumeirah, built along the coastline.

However, not all ambitious projects were successful.

20 years ago in Dubai, they began to build an artificial archipelago of 260 islands, the contours of which resemble the continents of the Earth.

The islands were named after various countries, cities, and famous people: Australia, Buenos Aires, Michael Schumacher's island.

Sam The archipelago received a spectacular name — The World.

However, in 20 years, only a few of its “countries” have been inhabited.

Why did the ambitious project, on which Dubai spent 15 billion dollars, stall?


The World is located about 4 km from the coast of Dubai.

It was conceived as a luxurious residential and tourist project, where each island offers guests to get to know different cultures of the world.

Some of the islands are designed as private residences, on others they planned to place hotels, restaurants, resorts, villas and other urban amenities.

The Dubai authorities counted on support of private investors.

The development was carried out by Nakheel Corporation – the largest state developer of Dubai.

They have just completed the construction of the artificial island “Palm Jumeirah” with 4,000 luxury properties and dozens of hotels.

The World was to become an even more ambitious project. , which increased the length of the city's beaches by about 230 kilometers.

It was hoped that this would also increase the flow of tourists.

The project was announced in 2003 by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.

How the archipelago was built

Togo In the same year, Nakheel started work on the World.

With the help of a whole flotilla of special ships, 260 new islands were washed four kilometers from the coast.

< p dir="ltr" class="bbc-1y32vyc e17g058b0">This required 321 million cubic meters of sea sand (desert sand was not suitable due to its characteristics, as it eroded quickly) and millions of tons of stones.

Environmentalists say that underwater work has damaged coral reefs in the Persian Gulf. However, Nakheel hired marine biologists to reconstruct and rehabilitate them.

What went wrong?

Nakheel completed construction in 2008 and said it had sold 70% of the islands to private developers.

However, work on the islands stopped due to the large-scale financial crisis that began in Dubai in 2007 and lasted until 2010.

In Dubai, real estate prices have significantly increased. fell, forcing many private developers to suspend or cancel their plans.

Nakheel got into billions of debts. The company's problems were solved only in 2009, when Dubai received a $10 billion loan from its neighbor Abu Dhabi. Part of this money went to pay off Nakheel's debts.

What was built on The World?< /h2>

To draw attention to the project, the Nakheel company placed a showroom on the island of Lapland and presented one of the islands to Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher as a token recognition of his success.

In 2012, the Royal Island Beach Club opened on the island of Lebanon.

And in 2022, the Anantara World Islands resort was launched with hotel rooms, suites, villas and spa.

However, the rest of the islands remain empty.

“One of the big problems with The World is that, unlike other artificial islands, it has no physical connection to Dubai,” says Alastair Bonnett, professor of geography at the University of Newcastle.

“There is neither a bridge nor a road to reach the islands by car.”

This means that it is difficult for developers to get workers and materials to construction sites, and to provide water and electricity to the islands.

The only transport by which visitors can reach the islands is by ferry.

What's next?

The largest European developer in the UAE, Kleindienst Group, has been working on the project for the last ten years.

They created the “Heart of Europe” complex on the islands of the archipelago – a series of luxury hotels, private estates and floating villas in the European style.

The highlight of the complex was a street where visitors can walk under artificial rain in extremely hot weather.

The complex is planned to open in 2026.

At first it was assumed that that each island would have its own electricity and water, but this turned out to be expensive and impractical.

Nakheel therefore wants to unite all 260 islands into “continents”, so that they have common drainage and other communications.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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