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Sun 1 Jan 2012 11:30 AM

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First resort on Dubai’s ‘World’ gears up for launch

Luxury beach club owned by Indian entrepreneur will be island’s first venue

First resort on Dubai’s ‘World’ gears up for launch
Nakheels The World has struggled in the wake of Dubais real estate crash

Nakheel’s troubled offshore development The World will see its first island open to the public this week with the launch of the luxury World Island Beach Club, Arabian Business can reveal.

“We will be opening in the first week of January,” said Reza Sinnen, operations manager at the beach club, based on the island of Lebanon. The resort was originally scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2011 but pushed back its launch following construction delays.

The exclusive resort, which could cost members up to AED40,000 ($10,890) a year to join, hopes to capitalise on the Dubai development’s potential as a tourism destination.

Facilities will include a 100-seat restaurant, cabanas, a lounge area and entertainment facilities, alongside a pontoon that can accommodate up to 80ft yachts.

“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 in an interview in June.  

The luxury resort, owned by Indian entrepreneur Wakil Admed Azmi, will be the first attraction on The World to open to the public after Dubai’s property crash dealt a blow to the development.

Construction on the offshore project ground to a virtual standstill in the wake of the global 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.

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.

Nakheel plans to offer tourists day and dinner cruises around The World as it moves to reposition the project as a tourism destination, in a bid to offset tumbling revenues from its real estate sales.

The developer said in November it also planned to create 500 artificial reefs around Dubai in an effort to regenerate marine life around the emirate’s coastline, and aid the local fishing industry.

The reefs will be positioned around Nakheel’s existing manmade islands, Ali Lootah, chairman of Nakheel, told reporters.

“It will help the local economy from having a good tourist industry in Dubai and environmentally I think we did our best to protect the environment,” he said.

Richard Paul, head of residential valuations at Dubai property consultancy Cluttons, said in November that Nakheel’s efforts to source new revenue through tourism reflected a practical approach to Dubai’s struggling real estate market.

“They are categorically a property developer - that is the heart of its business - but with supply at levels that are not feasible for it to continue to developing new projects, and with developments being handed over owners associations they will be losing income on that side,” he said.

“So it does make sense for them for the next few years to concentrate on new revenue streams.”

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