Dubai lines up next tourist move

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 August, 2004, 12:00am

Checkmate again for Dubai's sense of the ostentatious in the United Arab Emirates. In the land of sheikhs, a king and queen will shortly rule the skyline.

Chess City, where each building will be shaped as a chess piece, is about to rise from a desert site.

The city will spread over 64,000 square metres, representing the squares on a chessboard, and will cost US$3 billion. It is due for completion in four years.

Chief executive of Dubai Projects, Sulaiman al-Fahim, said the city would include 32 buildings shaped like chess pieces and he hoped it would be become the chess capital of the world.

'Dubai will host 60 million amateur and professional chess followers from around the globe annually. They will have a permanent venue where they can congregate and play 24-hour championships throughout the year.'

Dubai is pouring millions of dollars into an ambitious infrastructure plan it hopes will boost tourism - a major source of income for the Gulf emirate, whose crude oil resources are running out.

Chess City is the latest in a long line of ambitious projects designed to put Dubai on the tourist map.

Work is well under way to build Palm Island, a housing complex in the shape of a palm tree 3km offshore, where David Beckham has snapped up a property.

Plans to build Dubai Land, a huge entertainment complex that will include a Formula One race track and the world's longest indoor ski slope, were announced last year.

Work is under way to build the world's tallest tower, higher than present record-holder Taipei 101 in Taiwan at 509 metres. Petronas Towers in Malaysia (452 metres) and Chicago's Sears Tower (442 metres) follow.