Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Metro’s first train to arrive in March 2008

The Roads and Transport Authority’s Rail Agency has announced that the manufacturing of trains for Dubai Metro is well on schedule in Japan. The first train will be delivered in March 2008.
Rail Agency’s Director of Construction Adnan Hammadi said, “As scheduled, each train will be approximately 85 metres long, 2.78 metres wide and 3.86 metres high with five cars, 3 motor cars and 2 trailer cars.”
“The train equipment tests commenced in June 2007 at their respective suppliers’ premises, mainly in Japan, as well as in France and Germany. These tests were carried out in order to ensure that the train and its equipments are compliant with the project specifications and international best practices as well as fit for local environmental conditions,” he said.
The first train will be ready by October 2007 after which it will be delivered to Dubai for testing and commissioning, starting in March 2008.
Altogether 44 sets will be delivered for the Red Line to commence revenue service in September 2009

Majan, Downtown Dubailand

Majan is a modern mixed use development incorporating residential, commercial, retail, leisure and cultural sectors, representing downtown Dubailand.

The project drives an investment of AED 15 billion within a period of three years.
Located on the Emirates Road, nearby Global Village, the 16.5 million sq ft freehold development will consist of three components: 32 per cent of the area will comprise residential units, 44 per cent will be dedicated for retail and entertainment, and 24per cent for commercial units.

The upscale project is being sold as freehold plots of land to investors, who will develop their acquired plots that comply with Mizin's design guidelines.

The main infrastructure work, comprising the road, water, and electricity networks of Phase 1, was concluded in December 2006.

Dubailand is currently developing 45 attractions expected to attract over 5 million visitors per year by 2010. It will also have around 400,000 people working and living in it.

'Majan, the downtown of Dubailand, was carefully designed to meet the business, residential, leisure and retail needs of the residents, professionals and visitors of the mega project Dubailand,' said Sami Al Hashimi CEO of Mizin, 'In addition, Mizin is placing a special effort to make sure that Majan will introduce new standards of execution and delivery. A total of 150 towers will shape the Majan skyline.'

Monday, 17 December 2007

Office Rents in Dubai, Doha to surge by 20%

The office rents in Dubai, and Doha are likely to go up by 20% next year, as the demand surpasses supply, and due to the expansion of international business in the Gulf region, revealed the property services company, CB Richard Ellis.

"The top-quality offices in Dubai, cost as much as Dh.500 per square foot, and this in-turn could increase prices to Dh.600 per square feet next year, which would continue for 18 months, and thereafter the prices may probably halve to about Dh.300 per square foot in another five or six years with an increase in market supply" says Nicholas Maclean, the Managing Director, CB Richard Ellis.

However, at present, there are not enough supplies reaching the market, which would do no good to the businesses or for the government.

As far as Doha property is concerned, the demand is increasing, with an expansion in oil and gas companies, and the government is seeking new space. Although, the prices in Doha are lower than that in Dubai, the trends are the same.

On the other hand cities in India, Egypt, and Philippines are gaining advantage from the rising prices, as businesses turn to them for back-office operations, said Maclean.

The office space in Dubai is likely to more than triple touching 100 million square feet, as against the present 30million, during the next five to six years, Maclean concluded.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Which is better investment option - Dubai or Abu Dhabi?

Abu Dhabi is currently doing well in the property sector, and the recent Cityscape exhibition has only added to this excitement. However, the truth is that these major construction activities taking place in Abu Dhabi currently, is not being considered as a major threat to its matured neighboring emirate, Dubai.

It is a different kind of market, and the motivating projects that are being carried out at Abu Dhabi will bring about a balance in the overall profile of UAE as a business, residential and holiday destination.

However, whether Dubai or Abu Dhabi is a better investment option, will depend on individual requirements of the buyer. The massive demand for commercial and residential property in Abu Dhabi is actually soaring up the prices. However, the major supplies currently reaching the Dubai market, and the progress of the emirate in offering world-class infrastructure, will actually lure investors to Dubai who intend to occupy their properties very shortly.

However, this major growth of Abu Dhabi is a real booster for the UAE economy. This is clearly indicated by the project values which has touched 170 percent increase last year in comparison to 2005. With several new projects coming up, this figure is expected to increase even further during the current year.

The population in Abu Dhabi will be doubled in ten years and about 2,50,000 housing units will be required. This bigger picture indicates long-term sustained growth of Abu Dhabi market.

This optimism in Abu Dhabi is the result of combined efforts of tourism, leasehold ownership, development of infrastructure and international airport expansion, which will help in maintaining the prominence of the capital in the real estate market.

Al Osaimi Group launches Dh.1bn luxury resort at Palm Jumeirah

The Al Osaimi Group has confirmed that the construction work of the $272million (Dh.1 billion) luxury resort at The Palm Jumeirah, is progressing as scheduled, and will be ready by first quarter of 2008.

The Kuwait-based developer has taken the help of several firms for project consultancy, contracting and enabling works and project management, as this is their maiden project in the UAE. The project is located on the Crescent of The Palm Jumeirah.
During the first quarter of 2008, the developer will launch one million square foot project, in accordance with the agreement signed with Dusit International, one of the prestigious Thai hotel chains in the world.

At present, Al Osaimi is carrying on with the final stages of escrow registration process in compliance with regulations laid out by the Dubai Land Department, thereby preparing to launch early next year.

The project that spreads over an area of 95,000 square meters on The Palm Jumeirah, comprises a seven star luxury hotel, a five star family resort, and an upscale residential complex that includes 178 posh freehold townhouses, penthouses and a dozen chalets.

Being designed in traditional Indian manner, the hotel has 116 guestrooms and suites, while the Moroccan-themed family resort has 292 rooms and suites. The hotels offer excellent dining, themed landscaping, ballroom, and state-of-the-art amenities. The luxurious development will also include renowned Deverana Spa by Dusit, an authentic Thai-inspired rejuvenation, apart from internationally acclaimed service of Dusit International, incorporating Thai culture and hospitality.

Right from its inception 25 years ago, the Al Osami Group, has handled several projects in Kuwait, and in the Middle East, including commercial, residential, hospitality and retail developments. The company has a rich portfolio that covers various sectors including, construction, real estate investment, engineering, while the subsidiary firm of the group has spearheaded for 15 projects including the group's development on The Palm Jumeirah.

Cube - Dubai Sport City

The Cube is a unique and innovative landmark tower that will occupy a prime location within Dubai Sports City. The Cube Condo Residence is the first German developed, designed and contracted tower to be built in Dubai and the world’s first integrated athletics, sports and lifestyle venue. In short, The Cube is prestigious condo residence delivering the highest quality finishes by wholesome detail and a zest for sports.

The Cube offers its owners a state of the art high end investment offering a 10% Return on Investment, assuming conservative market figures are met.

DMCC starts venture to tap world pearl market

The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) yesterday tied up with the Australia-based Arrow Pearls Company, while announcing the launch of an integrated pearl centre in Dubai in order to tap the $1 billion (Dh3.67bn) annual global pearl trade.

Termed "Pearls of Dubai”, the centre will include a pearl farm, interpretative concept and a shop, showcasing a new brand of Dubai pearls that will be produced at a pearl farm located off the Dubai coast. The move comes with DMCC initiating talks with two of the biggest pearl producers in the world, Mikimoto of Japan and Paspaley from Australia, for participating in the recently established Dubai Pearl Exchange, said DMCC's top executive.

"They are all very keen to have some participation in the Dubai Pearl Exchange. And we are also exploring the possible synergies we could have with big players for the exchange,” Ahmed bin Sulayem, COO of DMCC, told Emirates Today.

"While there are only a handful of big pearl players in the world, we are talking to almost all significant players. We are conducting studies to find out what other aspects of the pearl trade we can bring to Dubai,” The DMCC COO said. Sulayem further said even China is getting in to the pearl market in a big way.

Meanwhile, Arrow and the DMCC will farm pearls off the Dubai's coast and sell them as branded "Pearls of Dubai”, they said in a joint statement yesterday. The state-run pearl trading hub will offer grading services in partnership with the Pearl Laboratory in Bahrain.

In the global rough pearl industry, however, according to Sulayem, what would sell in Dubai is "big size” and "special colour” pearls. "It is the big size pearls that have a higher value and not the smaller ones. "The smaller ones are competitive in prices. "The pearl trade, once it kicks into Dubai, would compliment the gold and diamond sales in the country,” he said. (Emirates Today)

5,400 beds for the growing Dubai market

There will be an additional inventory of 5 400 beds in 2 100 luxury suites to the rapidly expanding hotel apartments market in Dubai when Bavaria Executive Suites Dubai opens, on Sheikh Zayed Road at Dubai Media City in 2008.

Attending World Travel Market 2007 in London, Ms Claudia Siebecker, Corporate Director of Sales & Marketing, said:

‘Judging by the number of enquiries we are receiving for 2008 from both the UK and European markets, arrivals will certainly reach if not exceed the 1.4 million visitors from the UK and Ireland forecast by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) by 2010.

Whilst we are not issuing contracts and allotments at this stage in our preopening, the reception for Bavaria Executive Suites Dubai has been excellent and we look forward to being an integral part of the tourism development in the UAE in the coming years.’

Ms Siebecker has been meeting with many of the 200 tour operators featuring Dubai in the UK, and with potential new operators interested in large scale properties for the growing group and incentive market. She commented:

‘Bavaria Executive Suites Dubai is targeting not only Dubai’s existing travel industry partners, but also looking at ways of developing new relationships that will benefit the city as a whole. Many of these new relationships will be operators looking for large scale properties to accommodate groups, meetings and incentives that the city has previously been unable to welcome due to high demand for existing accommodations and function rooms. We are all working together to promote the destination, which makes this a very exciting time to be opening hotels!’

RAKIA eyes US$15 billion investments

Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) is expecting to channelize inward investments worth US$15 billion across various sectors in the next five years. This was announced at an investment conference organised by RAKIA for a Belgian business delegation headed by former prime minister Jean-Luc Dehaene at Hotel Al Hamra Fort yesterday.
Reflecting the fast- paced economic transformation of the emirate, RAKIA has already attracted over 800 companies, including a host of Fortune 500 companies, entailing an investment of US$2 billion within a short span of 24 months.
Outlining his vision for the development of the emirate, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, said that the multi- pronged development strategy under implementation in RAK would take care of the development of all sectors of its economy and would make it a preferred investment destination in the region.
Jean-Luc Dehaene said that there would be real progress and consolidation of business ties between Belgium and Ras Al Khaimah as a result of the conference.
Dr Khater Massaad, Adviser to RAK Crown Prince and CEO of RAKIA, gave an overview of the host of investment opportunities available in the emirate.
"Ras Al Khaimah-based RAK Ceramics has achieved a return on investment of around 230 times during the last 12 years and is now the largest ceramic manufacturer in the world, which is ample testimony to the immense potential offered by the emirate," he said. On the tourism front, Dr Massaad said that the emirate has experienced a 40 per cent growth in the number of tourist arrivals in the past few years and is currently setting up around 25 new hotels which would add 12,000 rooms within the next five years. (Khaleej Times)

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Dubai Palm Islands

The Palm Islands, also referred to as The Palm Dubai and The Palms, are the world's three largest man-made islands, which are being built on the coast of the emirate of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The project is being handled by Al Nakheel Properties (Nakheel Corporation), which will increase Dubai's shoreline by 120km (72 miles) and create a large number of residential, leisure, and entertainment areas. The idea was first announced in May 2002 and the two manmade freehold artificial palm tree-shaped resort islands are expected to maintain Dubai's position as a premium tourist destination.
The Palm Islands has also been named 'The Eighth Wonder of the World'.

Exchange rate for Dirham (dollar - dirham )

The United Arab Emirates Dirham is the currency in United Arab Emirates (AE, ARE, UAE).
The symbol for AED can be written Dh (Dirham) and Dhs (Dirhams). The United Arab Emirates Dirham is divided into 100 fils. The exchange rate for the United Arab Emirates Dirham was last updated on December 12, 2007 from The International Monetary Fund. The AED conversion factor has 6 significant digits. The average exchange rate for dirham is 3.66-3.67 Dhs/USD.

Tennis Legends Wowed by Dubai Sports City

“City Dedicated to Sport Offers Huge Opportunities,” say Former World Champions

A group of international tennis stars in town to take part in “The Legends ‘Rock’ Dubai” tournament were today provided with an exclusive overview of Dubai Sports City, the world’s first integrated sports city.

Tennis legends Jim Courier, Michael Stich, Thomas Muster, Cedric Pioline were introduced to Dubai Sports City and took the opportunity to learn more about the project’s ambitious plans.

Tennis is one of the core sports supported by Dubai Sports City, which will be home to the David Lloyd Tennis Academy as well as providing the future venue for the “Legends” event once Dubai Sports City’s indoor arena is completed in 2009.

“We’re honoured by the presence of these tennis champions, who have done so much to shape the modern game,” said Malcolm Thorpe, Marketing Director, Sports Business, Dubai Sports City.

“We’re positioning Dubai Sports City to be one of the most advanced destinations for tennis enthusiasts, so The Legends’ enthusiasm for the project is extremely significant,” he added.

During their visit to Dubai Sports City’s offices, the stars reviewed the Masterplan for the development, and were provided with a full overview of the major sports venues, including the 10,000 seat multi-purpose indoor stadium and the facilities at the David Lloyd Tennis Academy, which will include nine outdoor courts and six indoor courts.

“We’re all really excited and impressed by the support for tennis in Dubai, and by the big plans for the future. Building a city dedicated to sport is a huge step that will create important new opportunities for the game,” said Jim Courier, former world number one tennis player and two-time French and Australian Open champion.

Dubai Sports City is one of the co-sponsors for The Legends “Rock” Dubai, organised by Delwood, which takes place at Dubai Tennis Stadium from 22-24 November 2007.

Tickets are available from regular ticket outlets such as Box Office Middle East, Virgin Mega Store, ITP, Lacoste Boutiques (Mall of the Emirates and BurJuman), The Aviation Club reception and Dubai Tennis Stadium Box Office.

Dubai Sports City is a firm supporter of a number of the region’s leading sporting events, including the upcoming Mohammed Bin Rashid International Football Championship and the Masters Football Dubai Cup, as well as the Dubai Desert Classic.

Global Interest in Dubai Sports City Reaches New Heights

Delegation from Maharashtra, India, Tours Major Development as Countdown Begins for 2008 Opening of Key Assets

Global interest in the US$3.6 billion Dubai Sports City project is reaching new heights, according to a delegation of senior property developers from the State of Maharashtra, India, who viewed the project on a special visit organised by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. ‘Marathi Bandhkam Vyavasaik Sanghatana’, is an Association of Real Estate Developers and is currently organizing a study tour for its members consisting of 50 real estate developers / investors in order to gauge Dubai’s real estate offerings and investment opportunities to promote Dubai as a hub for realty investment opportunities:

The UAE’s positioning at the heart of a potential market of two billion people – as well as Dubai Sports City’s focus on globally-popular activities such as cricket, soccer and golf – provides the development with the potential to become a major sporting hub.

Over 60 delegates from Maharashtra toured the site this week and were offered exclusive access to some of the major assets of the project, including the landmark cricket stadium and the magnificent 18-hole championship golf course.

“Dubai Sports City has already achieved a very high profile in India, where there is real excitement about the scale of the project. Obviously, there are a number of elements that appeal particularly to the Indian market – such as the range of cricket facilities – but it is Dubai Sports City’s comprehensiveness and range that have really captured people’s imagination,” said Sandeep Joshi, one of the senior property developers from the State of Maharashta, India.

One of the highlights for many of the visitors was a discussion on the rapidly-developing plans for the ICC Global Cricket Academy, the purpose-built facility which will allow players, coaches, umpires, curators and administrators from around the world to develop their skills.

Also of significant interest were the residential and retail facilities under construction. Two of the flagship residential communities – the exclusive golf course villa community, Victory Heights and a waterfront Riviera-style apartment offering Canal Residence West – have attracted buyers from around the world.

“Dubai Sports City is entering into the next phase of development and promotion, particularly in relation to the international market,” said Khalid Al Zarooni, President of Dubai Sports City. “We continue to welcome delegations from around the world to inspect the site, and the increasing volume of these trade visitors is a reflection of the international excitement that the project is generating.”

Monday, 10 December 2007

Dubai Real Estate Corporation chalks out plans for further strengthening Dubai real estate sector

Dubai Real Estate Corporation (DREC) has begun operations towards development of Dubai real estate sector, so as to fill in the niche market gaps and boost urban growth of Dubai. DREC was recently established following a verdict by H.H. Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

DREC is a full-solution real estate company, responsible for offering various value-added services, such as leasing and facility management services, real estate management services, and asset management consultancies, for properties that are registered in the name of Dubai Government or any of its departments. Even investments within the entertainment, hospitality and leisure sectors are all based on DREC's operations, and the company has confirmed its plan to develop these specific areas in future.

The Chief Executive Officer of DREC, Hisham Al Qassim, says "DREC has been established to further strengthen the real estate assets in Dubai, and we intend to accomplish this by concentrating on major areas, targeting niche market gaps, and complementing the urban growth by focusing the underdeveloped areas. We are planning a country-wide expansion in the near future, and hope to play a major role in the next chapter of UAE's development."

Currently, DREC is carrying on preliminary studies on the Dubai property sector, and the results will indicate the key areas for development, depending on market demand and growth potential. The company has revealed its intentions to begin operations by focusing on prime areas, while also maintaining strong market in commercial, residential, industrial, and tourism sectors.

Dubai property prices unlikely to stabilize in next few years

The real estate prices in Dubai are unlikely to stabilize during the next five years, in case the rent-cap is not lifted, and if the government does not take initiative to implement measures that could contribute in improving the supply market, say experts.

Property price trends in DubaiA study of the Dubai real estate sector by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) revealed that demand and supply of real estate will reach equilibrium only in 2023, provided, the government does not interfere or bring in new policies.

The Director of DCCI's Data Management and Business Research, Dr. Belaid Rettab, said "Equillibrium is when demand meets supply, and the prices remain stable."

Imposing rent cap, apart from delaying the process of stabilizing the market, will not be able to address price hikes too. Being supporters of liberal business, we do not prefer to have rent caps. The simplest solution to prevent price hikes is to bring in more supply to the market. The government, apart from supporting development of mortgage sectors, will also have to arrange finance facilities to developers so that they could build more, Rettab said.

The DCCI study revealed that the property prices have increased by a 10 percent cumulative annual growth rate in the medium term. The long term increase was 4 percent, which translates itself into an average price hike of seven percent, equivalent to the current rent cap imposed by Dubai government.

The DCCI study revealed that the government policies will positively influence income, population, cost, financing availability, tastes and preferences of buyers and speculation of future prices that could contribute to increase in demand.

The increase in supply will depend on the financing, production inputs cost, construction technology and expectation of future demand.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Dubai signs with Harvard

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has signed an agreement with the Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians (HMFP) in order to help strengthen clinical and scientific standards, reported Gulf News. The DHA and the HMFP will explore joint opportunities in education, training, research and clinical care. Last month, the DHA signed a deal to bring the Joslin Diabetes Centre to Dubai

UAE realty to boom beyond 2015

Dubai: The UAE, which accounts for more than 60 per cent of the region's real estate development, is projected to experience the boom beyond 2015, according to two recent studies by HSBC and Dubai-based Damac Capital International.

Analysts have forecast that Dubai, which continues to experience robust demand scenario, will continue to outstrip supply for a few more years while the promising Abu Dhabi market is about to take off and is expected to maintain high rental yields in excess of seven per cent until 2013.

According to Damac Capital's analysts Hany Seif and Pamela Chikhani, although the Dubai property market represents a small fraction of the global market, it will remain a major force in the regional real estate investment market.

According to Asteco, a Dubai-based real estate agent, the property market in Dubai accounts for 47 per cent of the market in the entire GCC. Abu Dhabi is a distant second, with 14 per cent. Thus, together Dubai and Abu Dhabi account for more than 60 per cent of the real estate market of the GCC. It is estimated that over the next 10 years, real estate investors will pump in almost $300 billion into Dubai's real estate developments.

HSBC's real estate analysts Walid Khalfallah and Majid Azza believe that Abu Dhabi is fast establishing itself as a new regional real estate market.

"The Abu Dhabi story is gaining credibility. After a slow start to the year, sales activity has picked up in the second half of 2007. The market remains extremely tight, with stronger-than-expected growth in rents [22 per cent] and prices [18 per cent]," they said in a recent report.


Land prices in Abu Dhabi have almost doubled (at least 75 per cent growth). Although the market is in its infancy with an almost non-existent secondary market, Abu Dhabi will consolidate credibility through further deregulation.

While there has been some progress this year, as some apartments are now being offered on a freehold basis, expatriates are still not allowed to own the corresponding land and are limited to a few investment areas. Furthermore, unlike Dubai, foreign property owners in Abu Dhabi are still not eligible for residency visas.

The office market, however, remains the most lucrative, with prices and rents increasing by 35 per cent and 43 per cent, respectively (which has led to a notable shift in supply from residential to office). Given the amount of wealth in Abu Dhabi, HSBC analysts believe there is still room for further price appreciation.

With vacancy rates standing below one per cent across the sector, the supply shortage seems to have widened. Some delivery delays last year due to planning problems, rising costs and labour strains have added to the supply shortages.

Based on the UAE government forecasts, the population of Dubai will reach 2.74 million by 2015, although the rate of expansion is likely to slacken considerably after 2010. Population growth will be sustained primarily by the influx of expatriates.

In Abu Dhabi too, changing demography is projected to play a key role in the direction of the market. In Q3 2007, the Abu Dhabi government revealed its "Plan Abu Dhabi 2030", an urban structure framework master plan designed to guide the evolution of the emirate till 2030. The plan assumes a population growth of 40 per cent over the next six years.

Dubai 'exciting' for holidaymakers

The fast-developing emirate of Dubai is an exciting place for travellers and shoppers alike, it has emerged.

With a growing tourist market the country is not only a commercial "hub" but also a fantastic place for keen shoppers who can enjoy tax-free purchases, Barclays Buying Abroad's senior business development manager, Suzanne Clay, said recently.

"The government in Dubai is planning to increase the number of tourists to around 15 million by 2012; they are building Dubailand [which is] bigger and more sophisticated than anything we'll ever know.

"There is a snow dome…They are really trying very hard to market to holidaymakers," explained Ms Clay.

Furthermore, she said, Dubai is a great place for travellers to "stop off" and break up their journey on their way further east.

She added that increasing numbers are choosing to invest in the country, especially British Asians and young professionals.

A staggering 5.4 million guests stayed in Dubai in 2004, an increase of 13 per cent from the previous year.

Trump, Armani Refuel the `Dubai Bubble' Debate: William Pesek

Even amid a skyline jammed with massive construction projects, the Burj Dubai is a standout.

In September, it beat the 31-year-old record held by the CN Tower in Toronto to become the world's tallest free-standing structure. When it's completed in 2008, Dubai's tower will be the tallest building in every category and home to one of Giorgio Armani's first hotels.

This is kind of a Dubai obsession -- having the biggest this, grandest that, most ostentatious the other thing. Developers have designs on the biggest shopping mall, the largest theme park, the first submerged luxury hotel and an artificial archipelago that is expected to be visible from outer space.

Dubai seems a unique amalgam of Hong Kong, Riyadh and Las Vegas. No doubt this latter quality -- giant themed hotels and countless construction sites cropping out of the desert -- explains Donald Trump's interest. The Trump Organization's 48- story tower will include about 660 hotel rooms and condominium apartments.

It's no wonder economists are buzzing about the ``Dubai Bubble,'' especially with crude-oil prices near $100 a barrel.

Actually, they have been talking about Dubai's property markets imploding for years -- to no avail. As oil prices rise and Dubai, one of seven sheikdoms of the United Arab Emirates, diversifies its economy, it continues to confound the skeptics.

Bright Future

``Just look around this place,'' Faisel Hoodbhoy, a managing director at Dubai International Financial Exchange, said at an Institutional Investor conference last week. ``The future for Dubai is very, very bright.''

Of course, doomsayers may have some ammunition in the ``skyscraper curse.''

There's an old saying in journalism that if you have a good story, write it from time to time. We all have a couple of favorite issues, causes or quirky lenses through which to view complex problems. One of mine is the uncanny correlation between tallest-building projects and financial crises.

It happened in Kuala Lumpur in 1997, Chicago in 1974, New York in 1930 and in biblical times with the Tower of Babel. A bizarre coincidence perhaps, yet humankind's propensity for architectural overreach has been a reliable omen of meltdowns.

Taiwan, which in 2004 became home to the tallest building, was arguably affected. Its economy didn't implode, so much as it's disappearing. China has done a masterful job marginalizing an island it sees as a breakaway province. Now, among Taiwan's main allies are Kiribati, Swaziland and the Holy See. An economic crisis? You decide.

Development Miracle

The thing about record-breaking skyscrapers is that they can say as much about hubris as wealth, ambition and technology. Is Dubai a development miracle? Or is it the center of an Arabian asset bubble tied to surging oil prices?

At least for the moment, it would appear to be the former.

The rise in oil prices may prove more secular than cyclical. Demand from China and India alone almost ensures it. Officials point out that oil revenue accounts for just 6 percent of Dubai's gross domestic product. Even so, it's not clear its banking and tourism industries would offset an oil crash. Luckily for Dubai, oil prices are likely to stay high.

Also, much of the oil proceeds are being invested at home. Dubai's boom isn't being financed with debt the way previous ones were in Asia and the West; it's being financed with something closer to equity, if you will -- shares in Dubai Inc.

Dubai Inc.

Speaking of equities, DP World Ltd., the Dubai-owned port operator with terminals from the U.K. to China, last week raised $4.96 billion in the Middle East's largest initial public offering. It was Dubai's biggest step to date in establishing itself as a global financial center.

Dubai is stepping up efforts to attract more IPOs. The small size of Dubai's stock market explains why so much money is flowing into property. Dubai is working to change things, including building a bigger bond market.

``It's going to be a bonanza for investment banks,'' said Henry Azzam, chief executive officer for the Middle East and North Africa at Deutsche Bank AG.

In a dangerous world filled with geopolitical risks, Dubai might be considered a ``Green Zone'' for Middle Eastern investment. Attracting cash from Muslim investors is only part of the push; another is attracting the biggest institutional investors from New York, London and Tokyo.

Boom and Bust

Yet oil booms have an erratic track record; just about every one has been followed by a painful bust.

The outlook for energy is cloudy as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad try to use oil as a weapon against the U.S., and as concerns mount that the dollar will collapse or that the U.S. might attack Iran. Also, inflation in the U.A.E. rose a record 9.3 percent last year amid surging property prices.

To sustain the boom, Dubai needs to beat the system, so to speak; it has to overcome the skyscraper curse. Trouble is, few economies have done so.

Buy a home in Dubai and beat local inflation

Inflation is surging in the UAE. Food, maids, dry-cleaning, restaurants, petrol and particularly rents - everybody who lives here knows that costs are rising dramatically. Does buying a property offer some protection against the relentless daily increases in the cost-of-living? Yes is the short answer.

Actually, in an inflating economy it makes sense to buy almost anything today, and pay tomorrow. And it is the same with a home, which is the biggest item of expenditure in most budgets.

To take an extreme example, look at what has happened to those who bought in Dubai with a mortgage three years ago. The value of that home may have doubled or tripled, but the debt has fallen a little with repayments, while the monthly cost of the mortgage will have remained relatively unchanged.

Readers who pay rent will hardly need reminding that their fate has been very different. Unfortunately, they should also appreciate that the likely future scenario is worse and not better.

No cap on rents
Already we are hearing that a voluntary rent cap is proposed for 2008, and while it would be nice to think that generous landlords will take this opportunity to cut rents, economic experience suggests rents will go higher. The supply of completed new property is also just not enough to keep up with demand.

What happens next is that staff will ask their employers for higher salaries, and if they are not given a raise then they will move on to another employer that is prepared to pay more.

This is known as an inflationary wage-price spiral; salaries go up which allows people to afford higher rents, which then rise again and people demand still higher salaries that are then taken up by higher rents, or so on.

This type of inflation is hard to correct once it becomes embedded in a booming economy, and only a severe downturn can flush it out. In the meantime, those who bought houses get a better and better deal in relation to those who rent.

For as inflation continues the house buyer will see mortgage payments reducing as a proportion of their salary and the capital value of their home going up.

Downside thoughts
Of course, what will break this happy situation for the home buyer is either a major economic downturn, or an increase in the supply of property above the level of demand.

However, the renter of property will still have to pay the rent in a downturn, and will not be accumulating any savings in the equity of their property as the debt is discharged. Besides property markets have a habit of swinging back up again, and any distress is likely to be a passing phenomenon.

Finally, if the UAE keeps its currency pegged to the US dollar then buying is a no-brainer as interest rates on mortgages are likely to go much lower, and the cost advantage in comparison to renting will be very obvious; and that will also likely inflate house prices much further.

Buy a home in Dubai and beat local inflation

Inflation is surging in the UAE. Food, maids, dry-cleaning, restaurants, petrol and particularly rents - everybody who lives here knows that costs are rising dramatically. Does buying a property offer some protection against the relentless daily increases in the cost-of-living? Yes is the short answer.

Actually, in an inflating economy it makes sense to buy almost anything today, and pay tomorrow. And it is the same with a home, which is the biggest item of expenditure in most budgets.

To take an extreme example, look at what has happened to those who bought in Dubai with a mortgage three years ago. The value of that home may have doubled or tripled, but the debt has fallen a little with repayments, while the monthly cost of the mortgage will have remained relatively unchanged.

Readers who pay rent will hardly need reminding that their fate has been very different. Unfortunately, they should also appreciate that the likely future scenario is worse and not better.

No cap on rents
Already we are hearing that a voluntary rent cap is proposed for 2008, and while it would be nice to think that generous landlords will take this opportunity to cut rents, economic experience suggests rents will go higher. The supply of completed new property is also just not enough to keep up with demand.

What happens next is that staff will ask their employers for higher salaries, and if they are not given a raise then they will move on to another employer that is prepared to pay more.

This is known as an inflationary wage-price spiral; salaries go up which allows people to afford higher rents, which then rise again and people demand still higher salaries that are then taken up by higher rents, or so on.

This type of inflation is hard to correct once it becomes embedded in a booming economy, and only a severe downturn can flush it out. In the meantime, those who bought houses get a better and better deal in relation to those who rent.

For as inflation continues the house buyer will see mortgage payments reducing as a proportion of their salary and the capital value of their home going up.

Downside thoughts
Of course, what will break this happy situation for the home buyer is either a major economic downturn, or an increase in the supply of property above the level of demand.

However, the renter of property will still have to pay the rent in a downturn, and will not be accumulating any savings in the equity of their property as the debt is discharged. Besides property markets have a habit of swinging back up again, and any distress is likely to be a passing phenomenon.

Finally, if the UAE keeps its currency pegged to the US dollar then buying is a no-brainer as interest rates on mortgages are likely to go much lower, and the cost advantage in comparison to renting will be very obvious; and that will also likely inflate house prices much further.

Buying Property in Dubai More Appealing

The allure of the sun-kissed and sparkling shores of glamorous Dubai is impossible to deny. With this particular UAE country quickly becoming the world’s new playground in the desert, investors from all over the world are flocking in to buy property.

If you’re considering this relatively expensive market you are not alone, it does seem that despite the already high property prices that investments in real estate in Dubai are more than likely to pay off over the medium term. Dubai’s rising star is still continuing to rise and rise and buying property in Dubai is becoming more appealing!

With massive infrastructure projects ongoing and new developments being announced at what seems like the speed of light, it really does seem as if there is no slow down in sight for Dubai’s appeal.

Even with higher buy-in prices than those found in other developing hotspots in the region, Dubai remains a strong investment location especially now that you can get mortgages in Dubai easily from Barclays Bank. Buyers are finding that resale and buy-to-let potential remains strong in the emirate. Many buyers however, are actually looking to relocate to Dubai as it is one of the most popular expatriate locations in the world, with immigrants coming from points all over the globe creating massive demand for property in Dubai

Between the USD 11 billion Arabian Canal announcement, word of more high-rise towers and other pot-sweetening projects, the Dubai investment landscape is attracting major international attention once again. And, just when it may have seemed like nothing else could top recent announcements that are meant to bolster the tourism and investment industries, another one has been making the headlines!

Sports lovers will soon find themselves able to enjoy world-class cricket in the midst of the hot Dubai climate.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has its eye on the presently under construction Dubai Cricket Stadium for some major action. The stadium, which should be finished next year, is being looked at for “A” team tournaments, as a pre-season training centre and even for women’s international tournaments. This will add another reason on to the already long list of pros for making Dubai a holiday or relocation destination.

The appeal of Dubai, according to an ICC spokesman, goes beyond its rapidly growing populace and infrastructure projects. The fact of the matter is Dubai serves as an “ideal venue” for international tournaments because of its centralised location. Already it is expected that Mumbai might have its pre-season training in the stadium during monsoon season in India. English county teams have also signed on to train in the spring. This means many visitors and expatriates will be able to take in their favourite cricketing action whilst soaking up the sun.

With so much international focus on Dubai right now, this property market remains strong. As the country continues to announce major developments and infrastructure improvements, interest is rising even higher. With an anticipated population doubling by the year 2010, Dubai may very well be one of the hottest destinations in the world for expatriates and holidaymakers alike and this just bodes so exceptionally well for property investors.

Work on Dubai tram starts January 2008

Construction on the Al Sufouh tram network will start in January next year, aimed at providing an alternate mode of transportation in the fast growing area to ease traffic congestion.

The 15-km tram lines will run on Al Sufouh Road connecting the Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach Residence and Jumeirah Lake Towers.

In an interview with Gulf News, the RTA said the tram project would be completed within 21 months and will be operational in September 2009, to coincide with the completion of the Red Line of the Dubai Metro.

The tram will be connected to the Red Line at three points; Burj Al Arab Station, Dubai Marina Station and Ibn Battuta Mall Station.

The tram will serve areas such as Internet city, Dubai Marina, Media City, Knowledge Village, JBR and a dozens of luxury hotels in the area, which have already started facing traffic congestion.

The first phase of the tram project has been nicknamed 'The Shopping Trolley' as it will provide a link to the major shopping areas including Mall of Emirates, the Madinat Jumeirah and Ibn Battuta Mall.

Would currency revaluation be good for Dubai real estate?

There is a growing national consensus that the UAE dirham is 20-30 per cent undervalued against the US dollar, and that the time for a revaluation is approaching, even if the dollar-peg itself stays in place for GCC currencies as Saudi Arabia wants. But what impact would say a 10-15 per cent revaluation have on Dubai property?

Let us start with existing investors in Dubai real estate. For them a revaluation of the dirham is like a one-off bonus payment, as the US dollar value of their asset will rise in direct proportion to the revaluation.

If there is debt attached to the property then it is true that this will also increase in value in US dollar terms. But since debts are almost always smaller than the value of a property against which they are taken, the property owner will still be a net winner from the revaluation of the dirham.

The position is more complex for new buyers. If they are domestic buyers with their income and savings in UAE dirhams then the revaluation makes no difference.

Price hike

But for foreign buyers the revaluation of the UAE dirham would mean a price hike in their own currency. Rising prices do not usually encourage new buyers - although it is often the case in property markets that increases in prices do attract buyers who become even more convinced that investment is a good idea.

So the negative of a real estate price rise in dollar terms has to be balanced against the positive effect that might have on the psychology of the buyer. In short, if people can see rising prices they tend to believe that they could go higher.

Moreover, there is some logic in this belief as a revaluation of the dirham might well not be the last such revaluation in an oil-rich country like the UAE with an economy totally removed from the credit crunch now causing the US economy major pain.

It might well be the case that real estate buyers note how current owners have benefited from a one-off revaluation bonus and decide that they would like to be in the market for the next one!

Safe option

This also comes at a time when global real estate investors are finding their options more and more limited as a succession of traditionally 'safe' markets have come unstuck. Even in the UK prices have begun to falter, joining markets like Ireland and Spain along of course with the US.

Given that the UAE is the place where the sun is still shining and the oil boom still raging, and where house prices are cheaper than many markets that are now in decline - both in absolute and relative terms - it is therefore unlikely that dirham revaluation would have much impact on the Dubai house price market, and it might even bolster confidence at a time when other real estate markets are in deep trouble.

Longstanding Dubai property watchers will also note that provided the dollar-peg remains then lower interest rates are on the horizon which will likely greatly outweigh any negative impact of revaluation.

Dubai Overview

Dubai is located in the north east of the United Arab Emirates and is the country’s principal commercial center, chief port and the capital of the state of Dubai. The city has a population of approximately 970,000 people, a large proportion of which are expatriates and, according to the Dubai Development and Investment Authority; the population is expected to reach 1.4 million by 2010.

Dubai’s economy was built on the back of the oil industry, which developed rapidly after oil was first struck in the mid 1960s. Since then Dubai has developed a diverse economy and by 2000 the oil sector accounted for just 10 percent of Dubai’s GDP. The city now has thriving manufacturing, finance, information technology and tourism sectors and is home to numerous multinational companies such as AT&T, General Motors, Heinz, IBM, Shell, and Sony. Figures published by the Dubai Development and Investment Authority show that Dubai’s GDP totaled $16.4 billion US in 2000.

The manufacturing sector in Dubai is very healthy with some of the most important industries including beverages, chemicals, paper, pharmaceuticals and rubber. The financial services industry grew by a remarkable 12 percent per annum during the 1990s and this trend seems set to continue. All the major international accountancy firms have offices in Dubai and the city is also home to dozens of national and locally incorporated international banks. Furthermore, the banking sector will be completely opened up to foreign banks by 2005. In March 2000, the UAE’s first stock exchange, the Dubai Financial Market was opened.

To encourage the development of the technology sector the Dubai Internet City was established. This information technology and telecommunications centre has been set up inside a free trade zone and allows 100 percent foreign ownership and sales, while company earnings and private income are exempt from any form of taxation. The site is already home to hundreds of companies including Arabia, Cisco, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.

The tourist industry is the fastest growing sector within Dubai’s economy. The number of tourists visiting Dubai has increased dramatically over the last 10 years, especially with regards to visitors from Western Europe, and the government hopes to attract 10 million tourists a year by 2010. With this in mind, huge investment is being made to develop the city’s hotel, leisure and recreational infrastructure.

Local Infrastructure:
Dubai International Airport is the busiest in the Middle East and, according to the Airports Council International (ACI), is one of the fastest growing airports in the world. It catered for approximately 16 million passengers in 2002, an increase of some 18 percent on the previous year, and is expected to cater for 30 million passengers a year by 2010. The airport has benefited from considerable investment and, in 2000, the first stage of expansion was completed with the opening of a new terminal. This brought the airports capacity up to 22 million passengers a year. The next stage of expansion work is currently underway and is due to be completed in 2006. By 2018 the airport plans to have a total passenger handling capacity of 45 million.

Dubai also benefits from extensive port facilities with terminals at Jebel Ali Port and Port Rashid. In 2001, the Dubai Ports Authority (DPA) catered for well over 11,000 ships carrying a total of 47 million tons of cargo. The ports are capable of handling a large variety of cargo and are among the best in the Middle East. The (DPA) was recently awarded the ‘Best Seaport in the Middle East’ award for the 9th consecutive year, at the Asian Freight & Supply Chain Industry Awards.

Local Workforce:
According to figures from the Ministry of Planning, Dubai had an employed workforce of more than 522,000 people in 2000. The trade sector was the biggest employer, accounting for 25 per cent of employment, followed by manufacturing, construction and services. Government services were responsible for employing 9 percent of the workforce.

Standard of Living:
Dubai is a truly cosmopolitan city with a lively and modern environment that offers a fantastic quality of life. The city benefits from excellent schools, modern medical facilities and great shopping and entertainment opportunities. Dubai also plays host to a fantastic horse racing track and the ATP tennis tour and there is an annual shopping festival, which is gaining an international reputation.

The city has a sub-tropical climate with mild temperate winters and very hot summers. There is very little rainfall, even in the winter months.

Business Costs:
Office occupancy costs in Dubai are extremely competitive. Figures from a report published by Richard Ellis Global Research & Consulting in 2002 put the total occupancy cost of offices in Dubai at $24.10 US per square foot per annum.

Rents and property prices to surge in 2008

This is a question that tenants and potential home buyers are asking all the time. But with talk about the rent cap not being renewed for 2008 and an explosion of investment banking growth in Dubai, combined with inflationary local salary rises, it is a matter of how much, and not whether rents and prices rise.
It is arguable that the UAE is living in its own new era. Oil prices and oil revenues are at an all-time high. The government is proactively expanding the local economy through private sector led investment. And the cushion of oil surplus reserves is there to fuel this boom whatever happens in the global economy.

At the same time, the focus of expansion in Dubai for 2008 will be the financial sector. Deutsche Bank's regional chairman Dr. Henry Azzam recently said 2008 would be a 'bonanza' for investment bankers in the UAE with a large number of high value IPOs coming up both at home and in neighboring states.

These are the guys with the fattest pay packets who can pay the highest rents. As they roll into town these new residents will gradually displace less highly paid residents in the best areas; this phenomenon has already happened but it is going to become even more noteworthy.

New perspectives

Some new banking residents will quickly spot just what good value Dubai property is compared to where they came from, and buy immediately. Meanwhile, other existing residents will be frightened by rising rentals and decide to take the plunge and buy themselves.

Unfortunately the supply of property in Dubai has been slower in coming on stream than expected. Therefore, although 2008 will see many new buildings being completed this is still unlikely to be enough to satisfy demand.

Another factor likely to be driving prices upward in 2008 will be the falling cost of mortgage finance. The UAE currency peg means that if the US cuts its interest rates next year - as seems inevitable with the US financial crisis now in progress and markets point to 3.5 per cent - then home finance costs will fall in the UAE at a time of rising rents.


Indeed, with UAE inflation in 2008 almost certain to top the current rate of 10-15 per cent, depending on who you talk to, then real interest rates will continue to be negative. This means that inflation is eroding the real value of your debt and that borrowing money to buy real estate is a no-brainer.

Those Dubai residents who fear a housing crash should search back on Google to find articles written in the late 1990s about an imminent crash in UK house prices. In fact, UK house prices went on to double or even triple and have barely started to show signs of weakness this autumn, despite the credit crunch.

In Dubai it definitely looks as though the real estate boom is set for at least another year, and the prospect is that the good times may roll on for a lot longer than that as markets usually overshoot on the upside. So how much will rents and prices rise? 10-20 per cent looks on the conservative side.

Dubai property prospects are more appealing

As fast as the market is moving and as fast as new residents arrive in Dubai so more news emerges about the property market, investment returns and potential, mortgages and title deeds in the UAE.

This article brings you some of the latest property news from Dubai to keep you up dated and to ensure that all your buying decisions are fully informed.

The title law situation in the UAE is believed to be moving ever closer to resolution. The current unsatisfactory state remains that while it is not illegal for a foreigner to hold freehold title it is neither explicitly legal. Experts in the UAE property market agree that 2005 will be the year that a federal property law is finally passed to back up Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoom’s 2002 decree to allow foreigners the right to own freehold title in Dubai.

The passing of the law will be yet another booster to the already booming market and will provide increased consumer and investor confidence in the market in Dubai. Most see the passing of the law as simply tidying up loose ends, they do not see it as a momentous occurrence as they implicitly trust the statements relating to foreign freehold ownership rights that have been issued by Dubai government officials and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Al Abbar.

The finance deals and mortgages available in Dubai are slowly improving and developing as the mortgage market matures. Local and international lenders are looking to increase lending, and it is believed that as the Dubai International Financial Centre attracts more financial institutions to the Emirate so diversification in the market, mortgage choice and competition for customers will benefit the consumer and keep interest rates stable.

At the moment those looking for financial assistance with property purchase are sincerely advised to shop around because fees and rates can be quite high and some lenders can be more or less flexible than others. Furthermore, those seeking assistance should try to have a mortgage at least agreed in principle before placing a deposit on their preferred property to avoid any disappointment.

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has attracted massive early interest and it is expected that all the world’s leading financial players will seek to establish a presence there. There have already been some properties released for sale within the Centre and there are expected to be significant further developments of luxury apartments. Judging by the nature and price of property in the financial districts of New York, London and Tokyo, property within the Centre and surrounding districts are expected to command the highest price per square foot of all property in Dubai and the rental potential of such property is also expected to be massive according to property experts in Dubai.

Dubai’s Palm and World Islands - progress update

Dubai’s Palm and World projects are iconic developments that have captured the world’s imagination.

While construction of these massive artificial islands has been an enormous task, they are moving ahead at great speed, according to Manal Shaheen, Director of Sales, Marketing & Customer Service for Nakheel, the projects’ developer. Following is an overview of the progress that has been made on each of the island developments.

The Palm Jumeirah

When the Palm Jumeirah project was first announced in 2001, it seemed overly ambitious or even impossible, yet it is very much a reality, said Shaheen. The Palm Jumeirah is now the largest man-made island in the world and can be viewed from outer space. Construction of the island, which consists of a trunk, a crown with 17 fronds, and a surrounding crescent that forms an 11 kilometre-long breakwater, required 94 million cubic metres of sand and seven million tonnes of rock.

The first phase of the Palm Jumeirah residences is already at an advanced stage, with 75 per cent of the 4,000 properties ready for handover. This includes all 20 Shoreline Apartment buildings on the trunk, which house more than 2,600 units. In late 2006, people began moving in, and Nakheel says some 500 families now live on the island.

A number of hotels are also being built on the island, including Atlantis, The Palm - a 1,500 room resort hotel and water theme park - which is expected to open by November 2008. In addition, 28 beachfront hotels, located on the crescent section of the Palm, will be open by the end of 2009, with most of the word’s top brands represented including Hilton, Radisson, and Movenpick.

Construction is also set to begin soon on the centerpiece of the island, The Trump International Hotel and Tower, which will be a luxury 61 storey mixed-use hotel and residential building located on the trunk of the Palm.

Another key feature of the development, the 5.4km-long Palm Monorail, the first of its kind in the Middle East, is due to open at the end of 2008.

Adding to the island’s luster, the world’s most famous passenger liner, the QE2, will be refurbished and berthed near the Palm Jumeirah, to become a luxury floating hotel, retail and entertainment destination, Shaheen said.

Construction of the island has not been without its controversies though. Initial work did not allow for sea flow, leaving water stagnating in between the fronds. Nakheel resolved this, but has faced criticism from environmentalists over the potential damage this - and the other man-made islands - are causing to local sealife.

Palm Jebel Ali

Work on the Palm Jebel Ali, which is located near the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border, began in 2002. The master plan for the island has evolved and is now integrated with the Dubai Waterfront project, which is a large collection of man-made islands, shaped in an arc, which will produce a shelter around the palm-shaped island.

When completed, the Palm Jebel Ali will be the centre of a completely new city, which will be home to up to 1.7 million people by 2020. It will offer 70km of beaches, luxury hotels, and a mixture of housing types.

Construction of the island is currently progressing on schedule, with primary breakwater work completed in December 2006, and reclamation of land from the original master plan now finished. Work on the island’s infrastructure began in April 2007, starting with construction of six bridges that will connect the island to the mainland.

The first properties on the island are expected to be ready by the end of 2010. To date, all released properties have been sold with many experiencing premiums of 100 per cent. Further sales will continue in phases, to be announced based on demand. Construction on the residences will not begin until a large portion of the infrastructure is in place, Shaheen said.

Palm Deira

The Palm Deira will be the world’s largest man-made island when complete, eight times bigger in land mass than the Palm Jumeirah and five times bigger than the Palm Jebel Ali. It will stretch 12.5km into the sea, be 7.5km wide, and create a new city within Dubai for more than a million people.

To date, approximately 20 per cent of the land reclamation is complete. More than 200 million cubic metres of sand have already been used for reclamation, which is 80 per cent more than the total amount of sand used to create the Palm Jumeirah.

Due to its sheer size and scale, the development will be implemented in specific phases. The first phase, ‘Deira Island,’ will be connected by bridges with the current area of Deira, between the mouth of Dubai Creek and Port Hamriya, Shaheen said.

In May of this year Nakheel released a new masterplan for the project that reduced the length of the island that stretches off the Dubai coast by 3.5km. Palm Deira operations officer Abdullah bin Sulayem said at the time that the depth of the Arabian Gulf increases substantially moving further away from the coastline, therefore the design changes will result in considerable savings on construction time and sand volume. No timetable for the completion of the project has been given.

The World

The World is a collection of 300 man-made islands in the shape of the world map located 4km from Dubai’s coast. The development can only be reached by boat, seaplane, or helicopter.

About 320 million cubic metres of sand have been used to create the islands, which will range in size from 150,000 square feet to 450,000 square feet, with the average island measuring approximately 300,000 square feet. The average distance between islands is 100 metres.

Land reclamation on the World is nearly complete and should be finished in 2008, when the first investors will begin constructing their developments. Most of the islands are now in place and these will add 232km of beachfront, albeit exclusive, to Dubai’s coastline.

Sales of the individual islands are by invitation only. As of May 2007, 45 per cent of the World had been sold, including 20 islands in the first four months of 2007. The cost of an island ranges between $15-$45m.

A number of celebrities have been rumoured to have bought into the project, including former Motley Crue member Tommy Lee, who is reported to have purchased the island of Greece for his former wife Pamela Anderson. Reports have also linked UK celebrities Rod Stewart and David Beckham to the project, but neither of these has been confirmed.

Dubai Maritme City 1st phase sold out

Dubai Maritime City, the world’s first purpose-built maritime centre and a member of the Dubai World Group of Companies, has announced that it has recently sold out the first phase plots of the maritime complex’s commercial and residential districts to leading international developers and contractors. The first and second phase of the maritime complex’s construction has been completed on schedule, with the 1.2 kilometre six-lane causeway connecting the project to Dubai fully complete, while around 50% of the industrial precinct in the City is now operational, according to a statement.