Building the vision

2. NAKHEEL All over Dubai, the huge banners are unmissable: “Nakheel: Where the Vision of Dubai gets built.” Each day, that vision gets closer to reality, as property developer Nakheel puts its unique mark on some of the most spectacular and ambitious projects ever conceived. It currently has US$15 billion invested in Dubai real estate projects, and the tally makes impressive reading: The World; The Palm; International City; The Gardens; Jumeirah Islands; Jumeirah Lake Towers and; Discovery Gardens.

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By  Anil Bhoyrul Published  January 30, 2005

Building the vision |~|World-Getty-body-upload.jpg|~|FANTASY ISLANDS: The Palm Jumeirah is one of three similar developments, and The World development which costs US$1.8 billion.|~|All over Dubai, the huge banners are unmissable: “Nakheel: Where the Vision of Dubai gets built.” Each day, that vision gets closer to reality, as property developer Nakheel puts its unique mark on some of the most spectacular and ambitious projects ever conceived. It currently has US$15 billion invested in Dubai real estate projects, and the tally makes impressive reading: The World; The Palm; International City; The Gardens; Jumeirah Islands; Jumeirah Lake Towers and; Discovery Gardens. The Palm now encompasses three projects: The Palm Diera, The Palm Jumeirah and The Palm Jebel Ali. The concept for the Palms was first announced in 2002 and will increase Dubai’s shoreline by 120km. Each of the three developments is being built in the shape of a palm tree, comprising a trunk, a crown with 17 fronds and a surrounding crescent island. Collectively the islands will support more than 60 luxury hotels, 4000 residential villas and 5000 shoreline apartments. But if those numbers aren’t impressive enough, Nakheel appears to have outdone itself with The World. This development, costing US$1.8 billion, consists of a series of 300 islands, positioned strategically to form the shape of the world map. This project has a 2008 completion date. One reason for Nakheel’s success, according to chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, is the unfailing confidence in its projects and Dubai as a whole. He explains: “Dubai is trying to depend on non-oil based sectors. Our projects are part of prosperity building. The real estate market is growing because of our projects. They are playing a good role in the gross domestic product of Dubai.” The amount of research and feasibility studies Nakheel puts into these plans is impressive. “We have always done research and development,” Bin Sulayem explains. “We get the experience of many consultancies and companies to make sure our projects meet the quality we need,” he adds. His confidence is well placed. Some 90% of the properties on the Palm Jumeirah and Palm Jebel Ali were sold within 72 hours, with many celebrities snapping up homes, including English soccer stars David Beckham and Michael Owen. The greater challenge, however, remains persuading sailing and yachting enthusiasts to head to the Palms. High-profile Arab tycoons, such as Saudi Prince Alwaleed, have their yachts housed in the south of Spain. Bin Sulayem says: “Yachts and boats are one of the traditional Arab sports [and] there are many businessmen and investors who have acquired their own boats. I think we will attract many Arabs and Europeans because of our great infrastructure.” And Nakheel is taking its winning formula outside the United Arab Emirates for the first time. The two-year-old property developer has committed to a joint venture with Saudi-based MBI International & Partners, a holding company owned by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber. The venture is worth US$166 million. Wahid Attalla, executive director of Nakheel, says Dubai's “boom" is being felt throughout the region, so neighbouring countries are bound to be positively affected. “Regionally, Arab governments are beginning to reform ... I think [the Arab world] has [concluded] that things have got to change in order to be able to establish a presence internationally, both as Arabs and as Muslims.”||**||

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