By Anil Bhoyrul
Dubai's The World project, which epitomised real estate boom, ran aground following property crash
Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of UAE real estate giant Emaar, has suggested building a floating bridge from Dubai to Nakheel's The World manmade islands development, as part of a plan to rescue the troubled project.
In an interview published this week with Arabian Business, Alabbar said: “Somebody has to put it back to life. I would probably build a bridge straight into it now – a floating bridge. You need a bridge to at least one of the islands and from there people can go to all the different islands. You need to bring life to it.”
Announced at the height of Dubai’s real estate bubble, The World epitomised the city’s boom-time ambition and helped launch Nakheel’s reputation for man-made islands.
The project ran aground in the wake of the global financial crisis with almost all of the buyers on the project failing to begin construction. Owners have told Arabian Business that they have been unable to develop the islands due to lack of vital infrastructure.
Nakheel has previously said that 70 percent of the 300 manmade islands have been sold and that building work is the responsibility of the owners.
Alabbar added: “I like The World. I like the project. I would have probably done it [given the opportunity] and probably changed a few things. Otherwise I really like the project.”
Asked whether he would consider developing such a project, Alabbar said: “It’s not my business, not my project, but if somebody asks me I would be happy to suggest it. But it’s a fabulous development. I like it.”
The issue is not about access to The World but rather about connecting water and power, which require significant investment in the absence of feasibility to establish these Services via concession agreements.
Furthermore, sewage processing presents another complication for the future developments not only because of the cost of installing private treatment plants but also because the treated water cannot be dumped inside The World for environmental restrictions to maintain the quality of living.
Add to all of that the interface managemenet between adjacent islands which can be a nightmare since many are too close to each other which will surely create issues during construction phase as well as post commissioing phase
It is a fabulous and unique project but requires investment planning and compeltion of reclamation works as well as shaping of the islands to make them more friendly for developers and appealing for investors. I believe this is the right time to consider plans for it.
Saving The World is always a good idea! Why not launch a global competition for consultants to come up with a viable rescue plan that addresses these issues? Perhaps a simple causeway would help and yes connect up to DEWA... This could still be a very interesting tourism project. Abu Dhabi already has its Desert Islands up and running.
Much more logical to develop Palm Jebel Ali - it's already better connected to the mainland with the crescent connected at both ends as well as the trunk - and Palm Jumeirah shows how successful this project could be. Just need some good finance and vision and this project will generate enormous revenue for Nakheel and Dubai.
To allocate additional capital to this horrendous project would demonstrate the complete inability to learn from the excessive mistakes of the past. Masdar City in Abu Dhabi and The World in Dubai.....gold medal for hypocrisy.
To be honest if Nakheel were to build at least one community around a hotel & resort on one of the islands, with a regular ferry service. There isn't anything similar for tourists in Dubai, deep sea fishing trips for keen angler, fishermen will pay as much as golfers for the right experience in an overseas environment.
It would at least lend some credence to the project, instead of just letting it rot mired in litigation, they might as well have tipped the money the islands cost to create and maintain straight into the sea.
Bridge, power, water and sewage, all conundrums I admit, a 4 km bridge I guess, but at least if there was something out there and services, it would trigger interest from developers. A small beach club is not enough!
However, I'm sure Mr. Alabbar is canny enough to let, Nakheel pay for the bridge, and a service network, before Emaar embarked on a project out the there.
The certainty is Nakheel has to spend more $s, to get any return on their original investment.