Qaddafi connection had big Dubai plans

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The Russian chess federation president linked to Libya's Muammar Qaddafi in today's news reports was the backer of one of Dubai's most flamboyant development proposals.

In 2004, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who reportedly talked to the missing Libyan leader today, announced plans to build a Dh9.6 billion ($2.6 billion) International Chess City in Dubai. The 64,000-sq-metre development was planned to feature 32 buildings designed to emulate a chess board and host chess players from around the world.

The buildings would be shaped like chess pieces, anchored by two 64-story "king" towers.

"It is Dubai's destiny to become the centre of such a magnificent game," Mr Ilyumzhinov, the head of the World Chess Federation, said at the time.

The development never gained traction and Dubai's Real Estate Regulatory Authority no longer includes it on its list of active projects.

Mr Ilyumzhinov told reporters he talked to Col Qaddafi on the phone today and the Libyan leader sounded "strong" and "normal".