'The World' three-quarters sold out

Nakheel has now sold 70 per cent of the islands that make up The World, a group of reclaimed islands.

Nakheel has sold 70 per cent of the islands that make up The World, a group of reclaimed islands in the shape of a world map located about 4km from Dubai's shoreline. The company has also grouped together at least 20 islands in the North American region of the project to create one island for its own development. Reclamation work on all 300 islands that originally made up the development was completed in January this year, by which time at least half of them had been sold. Hamza Mustafa, the managing director of The World at Nakheel, said this year's sales quota had been reached despite the onset of the global financial crisis. "This year's and the previous year's invitation quota were taken up and have all been sold," he said. Among the developers to have bought islands this year include Dubai Infinity Holdings, which is developing Isla Moda - or Fashion Island - a resort on Greenland that will include a hotel, retail facilities and 80 villas created by the fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. Pearl Dubai paid Dh100 million (US$27.2m) for Archangel, a 1.6 million square foot island close to Siberia, while Turkey's MNG Holding bought Turkey in June for Dh73.4m. Dubai's Limitless also announced plans in September to develop a Dh1.29 billion "wellness" resort on Siberia. Confirmed owners from overseas include The Investment Dar, a Kuwaiti company behind Oqyana, a group of 20 islands that make up the Australia and New Zealand components of the project, and Chinas's Zhongzhou International, which paid Dh102m to develop a hotel resort on Shanghai. The European aristocrat Baron Jean van Gysel de Meise bought Greece last year for the development of V... Greece on The World, a Dh624m boutique resort. "Islands are sold by invitation only, and the individuals and consortiums are carefully selected to receive an invitation to purchase islands on The World," Mr Mustafa said. "They are generally entrepreneurs who are willing to take on challenging projects and are looking for something really different to get involved with." Early construction work has started on some of the islands, including Greece. "Once developers take handover of their islands and have their development concepts approved, they can begin soil investigation and then seek building permits to begin construction," Mr Mustafa said. Nakheel has also grouped together 20 islands to create a resort covering 73 hectares. It will include 9.5km of beachfront along with a hotel, villas, spas and marinas. "Likewise, developers may choose to join several islands to enhance their particular development by providing more areas for marinas and private beaches, or commercial space. Joining islands is possible as long as the islands are adjacent to each other and the reconfiguration meets design requirements set by Nakheel," Mr Mustafa said. While Nakheel has commissioned a logistics operator for the daily transportation of hundreds of workers, building materials and equipment to the islands, construction will pose the biggest challenge for developers. They will also have to find ways to provide sewage networks and utilities. "Co-ordinating logistics for The World has been one of the key challenges, but we successfully cleared that hurdle with the commissioning of a logistics operator for safe and feasible man and material transport," Mr Mustafa said. "Infrastructure is also a priority issue that is being solved jointly with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority." Steel and equipment can be transported by boat and stored relatively easily, but one of the biggest concerns for developers is getting access to cement. According to a construction planner at Dubai Infinity Holdings, developers were talking to Nakheel about setting up a cement batching plant on one of the islands that could be accessed by all developers. "Logistics is the biggest concern with a project like this," he said. "It would be expensive for individual developers to set up and dismantle cement-batching plants on their islands, so Nakheel should set up one up." Because of safety requirements, construction workers can leave only from Port Rashid, making it easier to keep track of those heading out to the development but increasing the length of the trip for many."It will take up to three hours a day just to move people," said the planner. Although there are plans to build accommodation for workers on one of the islands, this in turn creates its own challenges. "We have to consider health and safety and will not be able to keep workers out there for the entire time." agiuffrida@thenational.ae