By Shane McGinley
Nakheel’s struggling offshore project to see launch of luxury beach resort in Q4
The World, the offshore island project owned by Nakheel, will see its first island open to the public this year with the launch of a luxury beach resort, Arabian Business can reveal.
The World Island Beach Club [photos], which is based on the island of Lebanon, is nearing completion and is on track to open in the fourth quarter, a senior executive on the project said Tuesday.
“We are the first commercial development on The World,” Reza Sinnen, operations manager of the World Island Beach Club, told Arabian Business in an exclusive interview.
The development includes a 100-seat restaurant, cabanas, a lounge area and entertainment facilities, and is owned by Indian entrepreneur Wakil Admed Azmi, who bought the island in 2008.
Membership to the beach club could cost up to AED40,000 a year and – with a pontoon that can accommodate up to 80ft yachts – the company is keen to tap the lucrative yachting community.
“We want to run weekend events with promoters, not en masse but for people who have yachts… People around 35 to 40. Like a private club where you are known by name. I also think event and functions and launches will be a major attraction to the island,” Sinnen said.
“We have already had an enquiry from one individual who wanted the island for himself on the 31 December so we are definitely going to do a [New Year’s Eve] night there.”
Announced at the height of Dubai’s real estate bubble, ‘The World’ epitomised the emirate’s boom-time ambition exemplified by its indebted developer Nakheel.
Construction on the offshore project ground to a virtual standstill in the wake of the economic downturn, which saw real estate prices in Dubai fall more than 60 percent from their peak.
Almost all buyers on the project have failed to begin work, with the exception of work carried out by Kleindienst Group, the developer behind the six-island Heart of Europe Project.
Nakheel has said 70 percent of the 300 manmade islands are sold and that building work is the responsibility of the owners.
Lebanon was paid for in full in 2008 by Azmi who saw the plunge in construction costs that accompanied the downturn as an opportunity to press ahead with building, said Sinnen.
The cost of the island and the construction work has hit AED60m, he said.
“[Azmi] is doing everything himself and has cut down the cost of construction by nearly 70 percent. He project-managed himself,” said Sinnen, who estimated another AED8m would need to be invested to complete the resort in time for the opening in late 2011.
The island’s management is in talks with the Road and Transport Authority about the possibility of providing a taxi service to the island and with Sealinks to offer seaplane visits to the resort.
“We believe we cannot wait. We are about four months away. We are tying up with partners, yacht operators, travel agents, the RTA, Sealink… There is a lot to do,” Sinnen said.
Nakheel, the real estate arm of state-owned conglomerate Dubai World, has been embroiled in a series of legal rows with buyers and contractors linked to The World islands.
The developer, which confirmed the departure of its CEO Chris O’Donnell last week, is suing Penguin Marine Boat Services, the company contracted to ferry goods to the islands, a dispute that has affected island owners seeking to fast-track construction on their sites.
“It has been fraught by many obstacles,” Sinnen said. “Water and electricity, it was understood you would have to do your own stuff. There was supposed to be service hubs within The World islands and on land which would help the operations to start building and operations,” he said.
Earlier this year, Arabian Business reported that five islands on The World were up for sale at cut-price rates from owners looking to offload the land.
“Nakheel doesn’t seem to be not that much interested,” Sinnen said.
Can't be much more than a temporary structure with some generators.
As we learned earlier, the company who was supposed to handle the logistics for the island had a slight disagreement with the Master Developer.
The African thatch structures and roofs on the island look great. I think it was Cape Reed LLC that did the work. Looks similar to the work they did at Jebel Ali Hotel and Resort.
Looks like a multi-million dollar island with a few cheap sheds on it, impressive.
I think I will go to the Maldives instead.
What a shame it has taken so long! Various people (including me) suggested this to Nakheel over 3 years ago. There should be more such destinations - on Palm Jebel Ali as well. Give people some pleasure from these white elephants and allow Dubai to improve its tourism product.
Luxury beach resort? I think if me and my friends got 20 palm trees, some balsa wood and a bar from Ikea we could do a better job!Surely Nakheel want this development to work so why are they not allowing other people to build on the islands and helping the owners with better infrastructure. Is the reason becasue they can not afford it!?
For 40K I can fly to the Maldives or Seychelles 5 times a year, enjoying perfect hotels, clubs, clearest waters for snorkeling or diving WITHOUT this annoying, loud and decadent yachting community of Dubai.
They should have hired Robinson Crusoe to build it, his island was far more luxurious than that!