Kuwait buys a stake in ‘The World’

A KUWAIT-based investment group has bought the entire Australasia segment of Nakheel’s ‘The World’ project. The islands will be turned into a US$3.5 billion tourism destination known as Oqyana.

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By  Rhys Jones Published  April 17, 2005

A KUWAIT-based investment group has bought the entire Australasia segment of Nakheel’s ‘The World’ project. The islands will be turned into a US$3.5 billion tourism destination known as Oqyana. The Investment Dar and EFAD Holding will receive the 97.3 acres of island when the master developer, Nakheel hands them over in 2009. Around 1,500 sea-view apartments, 90 water homes, 170 canal residences and 150 beachfront mansions will be built on the ‘continent’ by 2013. Oqyana will be linked to the Dubai mainland by a ferry service and will also feature two hotels, one of which will incorporate a spa resort. The interconnected islands will also house around 1500 boat berths, some of which will be private spaces belonging to villa owners with others on water piers throughout the project. The complex, which lies four kilometres off Dubai’s Jumeirah beach coastline will have identical ownership laws to other Nakheel developments such as ‘The Palm’ islands. “These will be the first freehold properties on ‘The World’ to go on sale and offer a big opportunity to investors,” said Waleed Al Humaidhi, chairman, EFAD Holding. “We anticipate strong initial take-up for Oqyana properties because of their location and the destination itself. We expect between 10,000 to 15,000 people to take up residence there,” he added. As with Nakheel’s other reclaimed projects, buyers of property in the Oqyana development will be rewarded with 99-year residency to the UAE. However, this does not make residents immune to its laws. “Every country has laws and the UAE is the same,” said Sultan Bin Sulayem, executive chairman, Nakheel. “If you shoot somebody and kill them then you have to face the penalty and if the laws are that you are deported with Aids, then we follow the law. If we said anyone with Aids can live here than everyone with Aids would want to come here,” he added. Meanwhile, the Oqyana development is unlikely to face any of the infrastructure problems that plagued Nakheel’s first Palm project because there are no roads on any of the Australasian islands. “On these islands, your boat replaces your car, your yacht replaces your Rolls-Royce,” explained EFAD’s Al Humaidhi. It is not known how much Nakheel has sold the Australasian islands for, but Bin Sulayem has admitted that a “substantial” upfront payment had been made. “They have paid 15% of the total price. I don’t know the exact price, it is calculated on land values,” he said. “But they have agreed to pay 15% upfront. The sale of islands relies on a formula and they are all a different price,” he added. The Investment Dar and EFAD decided to buy the Australasian islands when ‘The World’ was first launched two years ago. “When they first decided to invest, there was only water. But they were very serious and we like to do business with serious people,” explained Bin Sulayem. Oqyana’s freehold offerings are set to go on sale at the upcoming Arabian Travel Market, which will run at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 3-6. Officials say they are confident interest will be high.

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