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Sun 26 Jun 2005 04:00 AM

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More than 270 ‘World’ islands remain unsold

Embarrassing disclosure comes as Nakheel revamps sales strategy on World project

Nakheel has sold just 23 of the 300 islands that are being developed off the coast of Dubai, as part of the US $2 billion World project.

Now the developer is revamping its sales strategy in a bid to drum up investor interest in the mega-project. And that will mean packaging groups of islands together, instead of marketing them individually.

A senior source at the company told CW that 23 islands had been sold since the marketing of the development began over a year ago — which equates to just 7.6% of the plots available.

A company spokesperson confirmed that the figure was correct after initially issuing a statement suggesting that 30% of the development had in fact been sold.

He said: “Twenty-three islands have been sold, but we’re in final negotiations with most of the 30% and they will happen.”Industry sources have also told CW that the developer has been approached by a Dubai-based consultant with a proposal to reduce the number of waterways separating the islands that are currently being reclaimed from the seabed.

But such a proposal may prove challenging as around 60% of the reclamation work on the development has already been completed.

Nakheel has confirmed that the original designs may be changed, but said that there are no plans to do this at present.

In a statement, Nakheel said: “It is highly likely that some of the islands will be sold as a group, rather than being bought as individual islands.”

It continued: “At present, there are no plans to alter the designs, however it is possible that there will be future alterations.”

The islands range in price from US $6.3 million (AED23 million) to US $37 million (AED 135 million), and in size from 10 404 m2 to 41 805 m2.

The slow pace of sales on the World is in stark contrast to the performance of the Palm Jumeirah. That project generated a massive response from investors, with many plots being bought and sold off-plan several times over.

Nakheel has passed the halfway stage on the World project, with more than 5.5 million tonnes of rock placed to date.

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