After years of dreams, delays, and a lack of sales, the man behind one of Dubai’s most ambitious megaprojects is convinced that it’s about to take off
Launched in 2005, Falconcity of Wonders was one of the most ambitious of the mega real estate projects that epitomised Dubai’s pre-financial crisis boom years.
Set out in the emirate’s desert landscape, the 40m sqft development was to boast life-size replicas of world landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal and the Great Pyramids, as well as districts modelled around cities including London, Venice and Beirut. It was also to include a theme park, hotels and a 1m sqft copy of New York’s Central Park.
Fast forward to 2013, though, and the only wonder is how after eight years of development the only work that appears to be completed on the project is 300 or so villas, a sewerage plant and an electricity substation. The latest timeframe from the company says it will take another seven to ten years to finish entirely.
Falconcity chairman Salem Al Moosa insists that despite sluggish progress, he has no intention to scale down the project though, and will launch sales of a further 100 villas this month. Al Moosa says he has the funds to complete the project, with the cash coming from a combination of his own pocket and investors and without the involvement of banks.
“People think that this project is not working, people think that this project doesn’t exist. People are using all kind of rumours against us,” he claims. “We’re being faced with a vicious attack by people – I don’t know why.”
So far, Falconcity has completed 366 villas, of which 306 are now occupied. A further 214 villas and a community centre are under construction and set for completion in 2014. Of the new villas, 100 have already been sold to buyers, although the company admits that the last of these sales were made back in 2009.
Work is also set to begin on some of Falconcity’s more iconic features, Al Moosa says, with many of the project’s ‘Wonders’ concepts now sold off to sub developers. The company building the Taj Mahal clone is currently awaiting a permit from Dubai Municipality to start work, while districts themed around destinations including Paris, London and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are all now in the hands of sub developers. He expects construction to start on these next year.
“These cities have all been sold, except City of Beirut, on which we’re negotiating, and City of Dubai,” Al Moosa says. “These are multi-purpose buildings, with retail, commercial, entertainment [aspects].”
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