Dubai beckons as luxury islands rise out of the blue

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 August, 2003, 12:00am

Homes are being offered for sale at the world's two biggest man-made islands, off the coast of Dubai.

Construction work will begin soon on another ambitious scheme. Early buyers of homes on the two palm tree-shaped islands include David and Victoria Beckham.

Known as The Palm, Jumeirah, and The Palm, Jebel Ali, the islands are the world's biggest reclamation project. Constructed by Gulf developer IFA Hotels & Resort, the US$300 million to US$400 million scheme will increase Dubai's shoreline by 120km. Made from 100 million cubic metres of rock and sand, each island will support 50 luxury hotels, 2,500 exclusive residential beachside villas, up to 2,400 shoreline apartments, two marinas, water theme parks, restaurants, shopping centres, sports facilities, health spas and cinemas.

Prices for one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments at The Palm, Jumeirah, range from GBP150,000 (about HK$1.8 million) to GBP650,000. Apartment facilities include a marina, a private beach club, an apartment owners' reception and concierge, maids and childcare, housekeeping and maintenance, and rental administration for owners wanting to let their apartments.

Sales agent FPDSavills believes The Palm has great investment potential. Charles Weston-Baker, director of the international residential department at FPDSavills, said: '[Dubai] has been experiencing remarkable growth in recent years and has become one of the most exciting residential property investment destinations for property investors from all over the world.

'The rental and management services ensure that the properties are well maintained and able to deliver rental income and capital growth. An opportunity like this should not be missed by discerning investors.'

Meanwhile, work will start on creating The World, a man-made archipelago of 200 private islands with lakes and canals 5km off the coast of Dubai, at the end of this year. The islands will be laid out as a map of the world, with each island shaped and themed like a specific country and given tax haven status.

Developer Nakheel Corp expects to finish the 25-square kilometre project in 2008. The Palm and The World are the brainchild of General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai, whose goal is to turn his country into a top tourist site.

The emirate plans to increase the number of tourists who visit Dubai from five million a year today to 40 million by 2015. Other building projects in Dubai include Burj Dubai, which is expected to be the world's tallest tower. Designed as a six-petalled desert flower, this 'city within a city' of shops, offices and homes will be 140 floors high and will cost GBP730 million to build.

The Arabian Ranches will be 1,214 hectares of 'desert paradise', offering golf, polo, horse riding, other leisure pursuits and 3,800 apartments and villas. It will be completed next year.