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Sunday, Dec 19, 2004

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Living in the sea, the Dubai way... .

Amit Mitra

Mumbai Dec. 18

IMAGINE living in a house that stands right in the middle of the sea, some five km from the shoreline. Or owning a `country' in the `World' that is coming up in the sea in form of a cluster of man-made islands positioned to form the world map. And if living in the sea is not your idea of comfort, you could try a sprawling planned city that has some of the world's best sports facilities.

If you have not seen them, or at least their pictures, you would tend to think that property developers in Dubai are trying to build castles in the air. But one look at the wonders they are creating and you will realise why Dubai is today the hottest real estate destination in the world.

"If we cannot build castles in the air, we can certainly develop new generation colonies in the sea" — this seems to be the new plank on which property developers in Dubai are now working.

Indeed, with some of the best property development projects underway, Dubai looks poised to change the syntax of real estate by setting a new trend in architectural excellence.

A glimpse of the magnitude of the projects was had at the four-day UAE Trade Exhibition, organised in Mumbai to showcase the different facets of development that is unfolding in Dubai.

The property development projects were the draw at the exhibition, especially for Indian construction companies who see massive potential in Dubai in the coming years.

Spearheading this development in the real estate sector is Nakheel, which is setting up the three Palm projects and the World project. "The Palm involves the creation of the world's largest two man-made islands located off the coast of Dubai. The islands are being shaped like palm trees," says Mr Robert Lee, Nakheel's Director Development.

Each island will comprise about 100 million cu mt of rock and sand and between the two islands, there will be over 60 luxury hotels, 5,000 exclusive residential beachside villas, another 5,000 shoreline apartments, marinas, water theme parks, restaurants, shopping malls, sports facilities, health spas, cinemas and extensive dive sites.

While the outer ring of the Palm is reserved exclusively for hotels, shopping malls and other facilities, the finger-like strips that jut out on either side of the central trunk to form the shape of a palm will have the housing units. "Entrance to the island is through an underwater tunnel. While the Palm Jumerirah will be a retreat, a quite serene and safe haven for living and leisure, the Palm Jebel Ali will be developed as a place of discovery, fun, excitement, with its trunk having a sea-village theme. The first project will be completed by 2006, the second by 2008 and the third by 2010," according to Mr Lee.

But Nakheel's best will be the World project that involves the creation of 300 man-made islands positioned to form the world map — it is located four km off the shore from a point between Port Rashid and the Palm Jumeirah.

Each island will range between 2.5 lakh and 9 lakh sq feet with about 50-100 m of water between each island. "Access to this place is by marine transport only."

Another project that is coming up is the Dubai Sports City, which will be the world's first planned and integrated sports city being developed at a cost of $2 billion. "The city will have four modern stadia designed by GMP of Germany — a dedicated cricket stadium, hockey stadium, multi-purpose indoor stadium and multi-purpose outdoor stadium for rugby or soccer. A major attraction will be the David Lloyd Next Generation Tennis and Country Club," says Mr U. Balasubramaniam, CEO of Dubai Sports City.

showcased at the trade fair clearly mirrors the new façade that Dubai will be wearing in the next few years to come.

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