• 17 September 2022
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Why Dubai’s manmade islands are still empty?

Why Dubai’s manmade islands are still empty?

Dubai is one of those countries that has shown massive progress in a short period. Only if we go back 30 years ago there was only one building in Dubai which was called Dubai World Trade Centre but after that, back-to-back development projects have transformed Dubai from a completely oil-dependent country to one that is only 3% dependent on oil. This is, no doubt, a tremendous accomplishment for any nation. From the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa, to the world’s first and only seven-star luxury hotel, the Burj-Aul-Arab, Dubai has demonstrated the extraordinary success of several construction projects, all of which were part of Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision for the city. When the land of Dubai became small for the Sheikh’s construction projects he shifted his focus toward the oceans. The World project on the water was first put into construction by Dubai’s Sheikh in 2003. The project was to make 300 islands inside the sea that will form the shape of the Earth. Islands would be designed to host luxury hotels, beach resorts, and villas. Because of all these attention-grabbing details in The World Project’s advertorial, it was referred to as “The Land of Paradise”. The project’s endorsement was done by expensive celebrities. Despite all of this, even two years after construction was completed, why are these artificial islands still empty? What went wrong? what happened? Why hasn’t the Sheikh of Dubai’s dream come true? Here is the reason, why?

In the year 2001 when Dubai was already enjoying the perks of western tourism because of Burj-ul-Arab, the beaches of Dubai also became successful in gaining the attention of tourists it was the time when Dubai’s Sheikh decided to extend the coastline by 70 km to get the maximum returns in form of foreign exchange Three man-made islands were supposed to be built in the waters outside Dubai, and from orbit, they were supposed to resemble palm trees. These isles were given the names Palm Deira, Palm Jumeirah, and Palm Jebel Ali. Perhaps because it was the smallest of the three islands, development was first begun on Palm Jumeirah. Palm Jumeirah was designed to add 56 km to Dubai’s coastline. Only with the construction of Palm Jumeirah the coastline was increased by 80%. The Sheikh was so in favor of stretching the coastline that before Palm Jumeirah’s development was finished, work on Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira had already begun.

There was another endeavor of Dubai’s Sheikh that drew the attention of the entire world in addition to these three. The project was first described as “The World.”. The project consisted of three hundred islands that will look like the shape of the Earth and islands would have the name of different countries. The construction work for the Project “The World” started in 2003. The project was built 3.5 km away from the shore of Dubai by obstructing the raging sea waves. The World was going to be the playland for the international actors and celebrities, the royal and elite class, and for the business tycoons who got involved in this project where some purchased islands for their personal use and some did advertising campaigns for it.

The projects were extremely expensive even the cost of the smallest island was 15 million dollars which is 261 crore Pakistani rupees. However, the price of the big ones was 50 million dollars which is 876 crore Pakistani rupees with these figures it was all clear that “The World” project of the Dubai government got equal success just like its previous ventures. Before the project’s completion in 2008, about 60% of the islands had been sold out. Here the question arises why are these man-made islands so expensive? Most of all it is not at all an easy task to do it is very difficult to create even a tiny piece of land amid these fierce sea waves despite that Dubai was able to build three hundred islands in the sea. To construct a single island, the amount of sand utilized is equivalent to the amount needed to fill a full stadium from top to bottom. The Dubai government had to invest 14 billion dollars to develop this 9-kilometer long and 6-kilometer broad project. With that sum, Dubai could have built nine world’s tallest buildings like Burj Khalifa or seven 7-star luxury hotels. However, Dubai’s Sheikh intended to make money not only from the land but also from the water, which is why he wanted to create “The Land of Paradise.” But what happened is that despite all the fame and glory, their islands have remained uninhabited for the past 12 years.

The first reason for the project’s failure is its design. Everyone expected the project to have the shape of the Earth before it was completed, but after it was completed, it exhibited a shape that was not the same as the Earth’s shape, which disappointed the investors. The failure of “The World” was due to more than just the project’s architecture. The project’s opening was spectacular, with fireworks illuminating the entire country, but the millions of dollars spent on the event were wasted because the entire world was engulfed in a worldwide financial crisis at that time. Before the financial crisis, 60% of “The World’s” islands were sold, and as a result of the crisis, not just islands, but the property rate in Dubai as a whole plummeted dramatically. Even the elites who had acquired the island did not begin building work here because of the financial crisis. Another issue that appeared was that the vacant islands gradually became prey to the sea, with several of the islands sinking owing to erosion. As a result, after the financial crisis, other regions of Dubai witnessed a boom in commerce, but no one tried their luck in “The World” due to erosion.

Dubai is now being negatively impacted by artificial islands, doubling or even tripling the coastline, and toying with nature. The faith of corporate moguls, investors, and celebrities has been harmed as a result of this situation. The Dubai government had halted work on all of the islands’ projects. The situation had become so serious that Dubai had to reimburse Palm Jebel Ali investors and halt the Palm Deira project in the midst. Only 9 of “The World’s” 300 islands have been developed; the remaining 291 are still inhabited and slowly being devoured by the sea. The Sheikh of Dubai is well aware of the blunder, and he is hard at work establishing new and ambitious projects to make amends. One thing is certain: Dubai will not be deterred by such failures, as evidenced by the Jumeirah Bay Island, the Future Museum, and the bright celebrations of the Expo 2020 in Dubai.

Written by:

Rohma Arshad

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