Vision for Dubailand becomes clearer

Since its announcement at the tail end of last year, the construction industry has been salivating over the sheer volume of potential work in the pipeline. It is well known that the project is massive, some 200 million m2 to be precise but many of the details have yet to be finalised. Construction Week reveals what has been completed, announced and what is being planned.

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By  Colin Foreman Published  May 29, 2004

Vision for Dubailand becomes clearer|~|Dubailand body.jpg|~|Could the Olympics be on its way to Dubai?|~| Since its announcement at the tail end of last year, the construction industry has been salivating over the sheer volume of potential work in the pipeline. It is well known that the project is massive, some 200 million m2 to be precise but many of the details have yet to be finalised. Construction Week reveals what has been completed, announced and what is being planned. Like many other mega projects in Dubai, Dubailand will be an amalgamation of developments undertaken by separate property developers. These separate projects are of a significant size. “We’re not selling plots of land for say a hotel, or building, we’re selling mega developments. On average each one is about 1 million m2, but some are larger, Dubai Sports City is 5 million m2,” says Salem bin Dasmal, chief executive officer, Dubailand. With a number of individual components and developers the projects will be mixed use and incorporate a range of activities and attractions. This is not to say that developers will not be given guidelines. There is a clear development plan for Dubailand, with specific zones and attractions available for developers. These include themed attractions offering various forms of entertainment, sporting venues, eco related developments as the main part of the zone as well as the construction of associated facilities such as hotels and serviced apartments. Such a large project, using an array of different developers places great pressure on the developments managers. “It is a major challenge. People have committed to develop the project to the highest standards with Dubai’s leaders. I have to look at it from a business perspective, fine they are promising to our leader, but what if they don’t keep their promises, so we structure contracts that have sufficient flexibility in addition to guidelines both from a mass-planning perspective, and from a look and feel perspective that allows that project to align itself closely what Dubailand is all about,” says bin Damsal. As with any project risks are involved. The two main areas of risk are that the project won’t attract as many visitors as initially hoped, or that it may cost more money to develop than planned. “The way we [Dubailand] can help them achieve it is to support them from a cost perspective, so we shall try and reduce the costs as much as practicable. We do not want the development to make a loss, we want it to sustain itself; so land, leases and sales will be done at a rate we feel will be very supportive of the development,” says bin Dasmal. “In some cases theme parks across the world are given away for free. I am not saying we will do that, but what we will do is to take into consideration that these projects need support and we will support them,” he adds. Although Dubailand was just announced last year, several parts of the developments are already well advanced. One of the first to be complete is Global Village, which is moving from Dubai Festival City to Dubailand and will be ready for Dubai Shopping Festival 2005. “For the 30 days of the shopping festival each year the cornerstone of Dubailand will be Global Village. The new location will allow the event to quadruple in size,” says bin Dasmal. Another component that is already well advanced is the Autodrome. Developed by Union Properties, the Formula One capable racetrack was launched on 29th March this year and will stage it first race later this year in October. The spectator stadium is currently being completed. Likewise Arabian Ranches a residential component comprising of villas developed by Emaar is also well advanced. Other components are still very much in the preliminary stages. “We have already signed a number of other contracts, so we anticipate opening some major components in the next two to three years,” says bin Dasmal. These include: An Aqua Park, backed by a Saudi investor Ali Shedri; Dubai Sunny Mountain Ski Resort backed by international developers, the 32 Group; Dubailand’s first theme park, Arabian Legends, financed by GFH. Completion for these projects is slated for any time between end-2006 and mid-2007. Also in the preliminary phase is Dubai Sports City, comprising of Olympic-standard stadiums, tracks and swimming pools. Altogether there will be four major stadiums seating about 35000 spectators capable of hosting hockey, rugby, football and cricket. A multipurpose indoor stadium is also planned. “Sports City will host its first event at the end of 2005 and beginning of 2006,” says bin Dasmal. For the long-term, “we are earmarking 2020 as when we could potentially host the Olympics,” bin Dasmal adds. A separate sporting facility is the Plantation, Polo and Equestrian Centre. This is another massive project with four full size polo fields, several paddocks for show jumping and dressage as well as a man made cross-country horse competition complete with ditches, hills and other obstacles. According to bin Dasmal these projects have been signed and there is no turning back. “In the contracts developers have agreed penalties for non-delivery. We obviously don’t want it to reach that stage, but these things can happen, so we have created conditions in the contract to allow us to apply penalties should a developer fail to meet the delivery time line. In the worst case scenario, if they are unable to deliver despite penalties then we would intervene, as we need the project to succeed at the end of the day, so we will either introduce new investors to the project or we will take over the management,” says bin Dasmal. “We want this to be a private sector development so we will only intervene in extreme cases where intervention is needed to get a project back on track and meet its delivery time. A number of components are still very much in the planning stages and have yet to be announced. The projects include: A bazaar; another theme park based on the civilisations of the world and the future; niche retail developments including the region’s first factory outlet; extreme sports facilities and Dubai’s new zoo. A development as large as Dubailand requires a great deal of infrastructure in order to make it a success. “We are comfortable that DEWA will be able to meet our needs and we are working closely with them to incorporate our requirements into their forward planning for the needs of Dubai Emirate as a whole. This does not just include potable water. Much of our requirements can be serviced through recycled water that could be produced using Dubailand’s sewerage plants,” says bin Dasmal. Transportation is another major factor. With so many visitors expected, Emirates Road and other nearby arteries will be placed under tremendous strain. At present, Emirates Road is only three lanes on either side but plans have been made to expand it to five lanes on either side. New interchanges will also be built to allow traffic to flow freely into the development will also be built along with an internal ring road connecting up the various zones. “In the master plan of the development we have completely master planned the transportation system, which means allocation for monorail, tram, bus routes taxi routes, stops etc, it is all fully integrated,” says bin Dasmal. The project will also link into the planned monorail system as Phase One will run along Emirates Road, and Phase Two runs along the Creek up to Dubailand. Announced projects - Plantation equestrian and Polo Club - Dubailand Downtown - Aqua Dubai - Arabian Legends - Dubai Sunny Mountain and Ski Dome - Dubai Global Village - Arabian Ranches - Dubai Autodrome - Emarat Sports Centre - Dubai Sports City - Dubai Heritage Vision Committed Projects - Virtual Games World - Woman’s World - Flea Market - Space Hotel - Future World - Aviation Hotel - Gardens of the World - Factory Outlets ||**||

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