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The World islands Dubai

Monday 18 February 2019 (UAE)   
The World Nakheel logo
The World Dubai artists impression overview
The World Sheikh Mohammed villa Greenland aerial
The World Coral Island project Canada artists impression

The World island group by Nakheel

The World is a luxury property development by Nakheel Properties, a man-made archipelego of islands off the coast of Dubai in the Jumeirah area, built to resemble a map of countries of the world, with each island or group of islands representing a country, region, or city in the world. It is not to scale. Each island is sold to an individual or company which will develop a resort or property of some sort.

Road link construction to The World (December 2013)
  • 11 Dec 2013 - Nakheel is not planning to build a bridge or causeway or road to The World according to anonymous spokesperson quoted in 7 Days as saying "Nakheel denies the report" when asked about the AB report of the construction. Unknown if AB made up the story to create noise, or someone working for Nakheel was winding them up.
  • 10 Dec 2013 - Nakheel is planning to build a road from the Dubai coast to The World islands according to an "exclusive" report from Arabian Business - Dubai's Nakheel is in advanced talks to build a road link to The World manmade development in a bid to boost land prices and encourage sales of the remaining islands, a source told Arabian Business.
  • The source was not named but AB did say she or he was connected to the road construction project. There were some previous comments about building a road:
    • The Emaar Chairman, Mohamed Alabbar, said in an interview with AB (April 2013) about The World: "Somebody has to put it back to life. I would probably build a bridge straight into it now - a floating bridge."
    • And the Nakheel CEO, Sanjay Manchanda, reportedly said in reply: "If he has a proposal of building a bridge, probably he should come and we will see how we can do it."
  • It appears as if AB and Nakheel have a less than harmonious relationship at present - at the end of any articles about Nakheel a footnote appears saying "Nakheel no longer responds to media enquiries from Arabian Business, nor does it grant Arabian Business access to any of its media events or announcements." Unknown what prompted the communication breakdown but it might have been to do with AB publishing photos of smelly water flooding the Nakheel Al Furjan Villa community in Sep 2013.
Boat tours of The World in Dubai (January 2012, updated February 2012)
  • From January 2012, Nakheel operates boat cruise tours of the islands of The World in Dubai (and also The Palm Jumeirah). According to the Nakheel website, bookings should be made 24 hours in advance by sending an email to cruise@nakheel.com. Or you could try phoning the Nakheel office (opening hours 0800-1600 Sunday to Thursday).
  • "Cruise with Nakheel" locations from Nakheel sales office on weekdays (Sunday to Thursday, 0800-1430), and from the Palm Jumeirah East Marina (between the trunk and the first frond) on weekends (Friday, Saturday 0800-1430).
  • Some information reported in February 2012 by Time Out Dubai was tour costs of AED 700 for one hour for 10 people or AED 1,500 for one hour for 15 people (no, that doesn't make sense to us either). Or AED 3,000 for 2½ hours for up to 25 people. A 2 hour cruise through The World and the Palm Jumeirah operates at 0900, 1130, and 1400 daily from the Nakheel sales office in Al Sufouh (opposite Knowledge Village where the Jumeirah Palm joins the mainland). Contact Nakheel at email cruise@nakheel.com. Three different size boats available?
  • "Cruise with Nakheel" packages launched in January 2012? Information from Nakheel dated 16 January 2012 said:
    • Group sizes of up to 12, 15 or 30 (or 25?) people on 3 different boats (38 ft, 52 ft, and an 80ft double decker houseboat). All boats have indoor and outdoor viewing areas.
    • Cruise prices start from AED 1,000.
    • Hours of operation are from 0900-1700 with one hour tours of the Palm Jumeirah. Details of The World tours not supplied.
    • Contact email info@nakheel.com for more information and bookings.
  • 10 January 2012 - Emirates 24-7 reported the Nakheel Chairman, Ali Rashid Lootah, as saying "Our leisure department is working on it… it should begin by this month," referring to the planned cruise tours of The World and Jumeirah Palm.
  • 30 August 2011 - Emirates 24-7 reported that Nakheel was planning to offer boat tours of The World and the Jumeirah Palm. The chairman of Nakheel, Ali Rashid Lootah, reportedly said at a press conference "We are trying to develop a tour and cruising business to The World islands from Palm Jumeirah…"
Tours of The World Dubai (September 2011)
  • The Chairman of Nakheel Properties, Ali Rashid Lootah, was quoted in news reports 07 September 2011 as saying "We are trying to develop a tour and cruising business to The World islands from Palm Jumeirah as a lot of tour agencies are asking for such a thing."
  • Not that there is anything much to see at present as far as we know, just lumps of sand.
  • One report (Cityscape?) said that the only construction activity going on was on the island of Lebanon where a beach club is being developed, scheduled to open by the end of 2011.
The World is sinking ... again (January 2011)

The Daily Mail in the UK seems to have taken up the theme of The World's sinking islands on an annual basis, with a new report headed "The end of The World ... " on 23 January 2011, claiming that the "Dubai island development sinks back into sea," which is obviously incorrect as anyone flying over Dubai can see - the islands are still there. Or at least most of them are.

  • This time around The Daily Mail has based its exaggerated claim on a comment from a lawyer for Penguin Marine, saying that the islands are "gradually falling back into the sea" and that there was evidence of "erosion and deterioration" of the islands. Penguin Marine are trying to get out of a transport contract with Nakheel so it's understandable that they would say that.
  • Nakheel said "Our periodical monitoring survey over the past three years didn't observe any substantial erosion that requires sand nourishment," Well, we wouldn't really expect Nakheel to admit the islands were sinking, even if they were.
  • And the CEO of Nakheel, Chris O'Donnell, said that "The World islands are definitely not sinking, washing away or eroding" (Reuters 26 January 2011).
  • But the CEO of Kleindienst Group, Joseph Kleindienst, the developer of the Heart of Europe project on The World, said "If an island remains undeveloped and unmaintained, erosion will occur" (Arabian Business 20 January 2011).
The World is sinking ... or not (February 2010)

The World is sinking ... at least according to The Daily Mail in the UK on 02 February 2010, a newspaper that some might say falls into the "print first, worry about facts later" style of reporting, and well known for having a bash at Dubai on a regular basis. The report said The World is "starting to look rather ragged around the edges" and "the islands are rapidly merging together and also appear to be sinking", based on a NASA photo of The World taken from space, which doesn't really look any different from other photos of The World taken since the dredging was completed. The "ragged" edge might refer to the breakwater which is supposed to be there, and was designed like that. The "merging" islands are probably those that are part of a revised plan in which some islands were merged deliberately (Canada, and Australia/NZ for example). The comparison image shown in the Daily Mail report is an artists impression published before the development even started. It seems hard to believe that anyone would take such a comparison seriously, let alone a newspaper journalist, then again, if the objective is to mislead and misrepresent, it makes more sense. Or perhaps the Daily Mail was just trying to be funny, but it's not 01 April, and they seem to want to be taken seriously.

However, the story was given extra support by Nakheel, the developer of The World, when they issued a statement strongly denying the story - "Speculative reports suggesting that The World islands are sinking are wholly inaccurate". Well, what else would they say? The phrase "The lady doth protest too much, methinks" comes to mind. And of course, the lack of progress of any of The World developments, the poor information flow about the debt problems that Nakheel and Dubai World have, and the lack of objective reporting from Dubai media, mean negative stories from the international press about The World and Dubai are more popular and are often given more credit than they deserve.

The World archipelago information

The World is a group of about 300 man-made islands (originally - as of January 2009 reports, about 250 due to some islands being merged) in the shape of a map of the world about 4 km off the Jumeirah coast in Dubai, UAE, covering an area of about 55 sq km. The master developer is Nakheel Properties, a subsidiary of the Dubai Government owned Dubai World conglomerate. Climate variation between the poles and the equator is not expected to be significant.

Islands are sold by invitation only (which is why you won't find them in the classified ads section of your newspaper), individually or in groups to buyers who will then develop them for various purposes. Some islands are themed after the country they represent and where the owners come from for example "Ireland in the Sun" to be developed on the Ireland island by an Irish developer. Others will have little relationship to the countries they represent, for example Nakheel's own Coral Island development in the north of Canada.

Islands in The World fall into one of several categories:

  • Low Density - residential islands spaced further apart for those with more money who want more privacy. Whether intentional or not, it seems appropriate that those areas are in Greenland, Northern Canada, and Siberia.
  • Medium and High Density - residential areas for the rest of us.
  • Resorts - the focus is hotel and resort accommodation but you might find a shop or two also.
  • Commerical - shopping, entertainment, restaurants, cafes, moonlight walks along the promenade.
  • Transportation - hubs where you can catch a boat to connect to mainland Dubai.

At the end of 2007, the only completed property in The World was the Nakheel display villa on one of the islands of Greenland. It was completed at the end of 2004 or beginning of 2005. Nakheel said that phase I of The World was finished 10 January 2008 with the completion of the breakwater, with a length of 27 km, height of 4 m, and 34 million tons of rocks. Hamza Mustafa, the director of The World, laid the last pebble at 8 am that day.

As of 10 January 2008, Nakheel has AED 220 billion (US$ 60 bn) worth of projects under development, including the Dubai Promenade announced on 09 January 2008.

The World in numbers
  • Total of 300 islands (250 islands as of January 2009), about half sold by end of 2007 (30 sold in 2004, ~70 sold in 2005, 15 sold in 2006, 35 sold in 2007). About 70% sold by the end of 2008 according to a report in The National (implies about 60 were sold during 2008). A January 2009 report said 175 islands had been sold out of the reduced total of 254 islands. Emirates Business reported 26 October 2009 there were 254 islands, 175 sold, and 33 handed over to developers.
  • The World is about 4 km off Dubai coast, 9 km wide and 7 km from south pole to north pole, and covers an area of almost 55 square kilometers (600 million sq ft, 55 million sq meters, or 5500 hectares) - enough space for for about 100 shopping malls the size of Mall of the Emirates. You'll see a variety of areas given depending on the source and date (see timeline below table). Land only area is possibly about 9.5 sq km, or 950 hectares.
  • Water depth at The World construction site is up to 16 meters. Each island will be up to 3 m above sea level.
  • Cost of land reclamation estimated at AED 7.3 billion ($2 bn) in 2004.
  • 300 workers, 10 dredgers, 24/7 operation to reclaim land, 3 million cubic meters of sand shifted each week, 14 barges transported rocks.
  • Total beachfront coastline 232 km (more than 3 times the length of Dubai's naturally occuring coastline).
  • Travel time between any 2 points in The World should be no more than 15 minutes. Travel time between Dubai mainland and The World between 4-15 minutes by boat.
  • Cost of each island in 2009 is $20-$50 million, sizes range from about 1.4 to 4.2 hectares (150k-450k sq ft or 14k-42k sq meters). At the end of 2007 prices were AED 55-165 million (US$15 - $45 million), up somewhat from September 2004 prices of AED 23 - 135 million (US$6 - $37 m) per island...
Other information about The World
  • ... or, if urban legends are to be believed, you can get a free island if you're enough of a celebrity to persuade Nakheel to donate one to you. There was a report that Sheikh Mohammed gave an island to Michael Schumacher (a German taxi driver?) in October 2006.
  • For all that cash, you just get a pile of sand, everything else has to be funded by the purchaser, and quickly before the sand gets washed away. According to 2004 information from Nakheel, infrastructure was included in the price but that may not be the case now. Bring matches and candles.
  • Islands are not listed at your local real estate agent. Viewing is by invitation from Nakheel (but there is an application form on their website for viewing).
  • Land reclamation started end of 2003 and is expected to be complete by end of 2008. The UAE island was the first to rise above sea level, about 6 months after dredging began.
  • Transportation to and from islands in The World is by boat, plane, or helicopter. No road access is planned to the island group from the mainland, nor will there be roads connecting islands. If you feel up to it, you could swim. Did we say the islands are 5 km off the coast of Dubai? Penguin Marine Boats Services is in charge of sea transport logistics for The World.
  • Dubai World Security, a subsidiary of Dubai World (a Dubai government company) signed a contract in September 2008 with Nakheel to provide 24 hr security for The World using high-tech speed boats to buzz unwanted guests.
  • An underwater coral garden is planned for The World.
Developments on The World
Timeline and History of The World
  • 10 Dec 2013 - Arabian Business says Nakheel said they're building a road bridge to The World from Jumeirah. 11 Dec 2013 - 7 Days says Nakheel said no they're not.
  • Oct 2012? Royal Island Beach Club no longer open to the public, although possibly available to rent for private events.
  • 13 May 2012 - Lebanon Island open to the pubic with the first "Stranded" beach party at the Royal Island Beach Club.
  • Jan 2012 - boat tours of The World project available.
  • 07 Sep 2011 - Nakheel says they are considering offering tours of The World. Unknown what there is to see except for sand and water.
  • 26 Jan 2011 - Nakheel is in talks to sell the remaining 30% of The World (Reuters report), implying they've sold 70%. Which is what they said in December 2008.
  • 23 Jan 2011 - The World is sinking again according to The Daily Mail (UK) again, but it isn't according to Nakheel ... again.
  • 30 Dec 2010 - New Year's Eve and opening party at Monte Carlo island resort cancelled. The resort was not completed in time. They'll try again for New Year's Eve in 2011.
  • 23 Feb 2010 - Kleindienst starts work on the Germany island of The World according to a press release 24 Feb 2010, and is the second developer to claim to be the first developer to start work (Major Trade said they started in January 2010 in Greenland): "Kleindienst Group has become the first developer to start construction on The World islands in Dubai. The developer of The Heart of Europe project has officially broken ground on Germany Island with specialist engineering contractor Foundation Construction Group Limited (FCG) commencing vibro-compaction work late yesterday."
  • Feb 2010 - The World is sinking according to UK press reports, but is not according to a Nakheel statement. So far, despite many comments about construction of projects on The World starting, there is no evidence yet of anything beginning.
  • Jan 2010 - Emirates Business 28 January 2010 reported that Major Trade have started development of their project on an island in the Greenland area - a villa and hotel resort - with soil testing. The Managing director of Major Trade, Viktor Herceg, was quoted as saying "We are delighted to have begun developing our island already ..."
  • Jan 2010 - Victoria Beckham, an obscure architect and property developer, was reported by the UK Daily Mirror to have received an offer worth AED 150m (US$40m) from Sheikh Mohammed, the Ruler of Dubai, to endorse the development of a luxury hotel on Isla Moda, one of the islands in The World archipalego - "The ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, personally wrote to ask her on to the project after Posh, 35, and husband David met senior royals while holidaying in the Gulf last year." The report was subsequently denied as fake by Dubai Government Media Office in a WAM report 27 January 2010 - "The Office said the report carried by the 'The Daily Mirror' yesterday, claiming that Sheikh Mohammed personally wrote to ask Mrs. Beckham on to the project was baseless."
  • Dec 2009 - Kleindienst Group say they will start construction of the Heart of Europe in early 2010 according to a press report 17 December 2009. Islands include Austria (hotel and dolphin pool), Germany, Netherlands (beach and recreation area), St Petersburg (shopping and two hotels), Sweden, Switzerland.
  • Oct 2009 - a report in Emirates Business 24-7 on 19 October 2009 said that "Development of the first of The World islands is expected to start as early as next month, while the others await final clearances and permissions from the regulatory body, Trakhees." but didn't give a source for that statement.
  • Oct 2009 - an Emirates Business report 13 October 2009 says 2 islands were sold at about AED 240m ($65m) each in July and August 2009, but didn't say which islands. The report also said there were only 4 islands left for sale, which contrasts with other articles in the international press focused on bashing Dubai during 2009 saying that The World is cancelled and/or abandoned, and there are only 4 islands left. However, the accuracy of the Emirates Business report is questionable given that they said at the end that "Select Properties ... bought its two islands in June last year for a reported Dh5.5bn", and yet in the same report they say island prices range from AED 55m - AED 734m ($15m-$200m) each.
  • Jan 2009 - reports give the total number of islands as about 250 (254?), the decrease due to some islands being united rather than sinking into the sea.
  • Dec 2008 - Nakheel says 70% of The World has been sold. Dubai visitors and residents continue to look at sand and not much else as they fly over The World on their way in or out.
  • Jan 2008 - The World breakwater is completed. Nakheel still don't seem to know how big Their World is though (and there's nothing obvious on their website either).
  • Jan 2008 - Isla Moda (a fashion island to be developed by Dubai Infinity Holdings) is announced.
  • Oct 2007 - Nakheel sells Shanghai and gives up trying to say what the total area of The World is. Perhaps they don't know.
  • Mar 2007 - Ireland sold to John O Dolan, Noel Connellan, Ray Norton and Andrew Brett, and the press release confusingly says the total area of the world is now 9.5 million square meters, which is about a fifth of the 55 sq km it should be, (unless the figure refers only to land area). We also get the December 2006 size in the same press release to leave us even more bewildered.
  • Dec 2006 - according to Emirates Today (a UAE based newspaper), Hamza Mustafa, CEO or GM of The World, says that island sales will be put on hold so that the whole project doesn't become a giant construction site. Nakheel then announced the sale of Ireland 3 months later, and Shanghai in October 2007.
  • Dec 2006 - The World reclamation is 90% complete, and press release says it will cover "9,340,000 million square feet" which makes no sense. That's either the size of a very large shopping mall, or the size of Venezuela (the real country), depending on how you read it.
  • Mar 2006 - Sir Richard Branson jumps out of a red phonebox parked on the island of Great Britain and wonders where to catch a bus to Dubai airport, where his Virgin Airlines is due to launch their first flight from Dubai to London. Nakheel says the islands are 90% complete (at least, the sandy bits are), and gives the total area as 593 million square feet - about the only time they get the number correct in their press releases.
  • Apr 2005 - sand dredging 55% complete, 88 islands above sea level. When dredging is complete, there will be 321 million cubic metres of sand and 31 million tons of rock in The World.
  • Aug 2004 - land reclamation cost estimated at AED 7.3 billion ($2 bn).
  • Jul 2004 - sizes 140-950 thousand square feet each and The World will cover an area 7 km by 9 km. Volume of material up to 30m tons of rock and 300m cubic meters of sand. Prices from £6 to £21 million.
  • May 2004 - prices announced for islands in The World, ranging from AED 23 - 135 million. Total number of islands has increased to 300, and sizes are 120 - 450 thousand square feet each. Value of The World project is $3 billion (value of what, precisely, is not clear from press release).
  • Feb 2004 - The World is up to 260 islands, 6 km by 9 km, area of 250 - 900 thousand square feet for each island, with 50-100 meters of water between each island. Total of 25 million tons of rock and 200 m cubic meters of sand on completion.
  • May 2003 - The World development announced by Nakheel, total completion scheduled for 2008. Initially to have 200 islands and an area of 60 million square feet according to Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman of Nakheel. Presumably he meant land area only since that number is about 10 times smaller than the actual area.
Last update Wednesday 06-Aug-2014
Related pages
Related websites (new window)
  • www.theworld.ae - Nakheel's The World website. Not available Aug 2014, try www.nakheel.ae.


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