UAE island is the first to emerge from 'The World'

Nakheel is spending US $12 billion on the construction of various waterfront projects

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By  Eudore Chand Published  March 17, 2004

The World is beginning to emerge from the sea just off the coast of Dubai in the Arab Gulf And the first island to emerge from the waters is the one that is in the shape of the United Arab Emirates, according to Wahid Attalla, executive director for commercial and operations at developers, Nakheel. “The UAE is already out. It was the first one to come up, I saw it only yesterday,” Attalla told Construction Week. Meanwhile, Nakheel chairman, Sultan bin Sulayem, told the weekly newspaper that Nakheel is the probably the world’s largest property developer in terms of both the scale and uniqueness of its projects as also in terms of the size of money it is spending on developing those projects. “Nakheel is among the largest property companies in the world. None other has the kind of projects we are developing. Altogether, we are spending US $12 billion on various projects,” bin Sulayem said. Asked if the projects had any government funding, the Nakheel chairman gave a firm no. “We, at Nakheel, are committed to finance our projects. The government is not financing them. We have a combination of in-house funds, revenues from sales and local and international bank finance,” bin Sulayem said. Asked if Nakheel was planning projects overseas, the company chairman said: “How can I think of a project outside, when I’m so busy with what we have”. Declining to talk about future projects, bin Sulayem, however, said: “I hear of hundreds of ideas, some good and some not. We study them and if any is good, we work on it. We do not announce projects before we finalise them, because we do not want to say we will do something and then not do it.” The Nakheel chairman said some 26% of reclamation work on Palm Jebel Ali has been completed and more than 70% of the work that is underwater, has been done as can be seen from aerial photographs. He expected the larger Palm to take about one year to take the shape Palm Jumeirah is in at present. Asked how sales were going for properties on Palm Jebel Ali, bin Sulayem said about 90% of the island has been sold. Saleh Al Selmi, vice-chairman and general manager of Kuwait-based International Financial Advisors, backed the statement. He told Construction Week, that the group has committed $800 million to the Palms. The Nakheel chairman said prices in Palm Jebel Ali were 10% higher, but not because of the rise in raw material prices. “We are aware of the steel price increase. We may not profit as much as we expected, but we will not lose money either.” He said Nakheel has not started sales on The World as yet. “We have not sold anything in The World. Hopefully, we shall start at the Arabian Travel Market. As yet, I know how much the land will cost us, but we are working on other costs such as electricity, drainage, water etc. When I know that, we will put a price to it,” bin Sulayem said. Asked if the Palms were sinking, bin Sulayem denied this and criticised rumour mills saying: “There is lot of talk, but that doesn’t make it true. These are the same people who said the Burj Al Arab was sinking.”

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