|This is a photo showing some of the islands in The World in Dubai, United Arab Emirates as seen from the air|
The World or World Islands is an artificial archipelago of various small islands constructed in the rough shape of a world map, located 4.0 kilometres (2.5 mi) off the coast of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The World islands are composed mainly of sand dredged from Dubai’s shallow coastal waters, and are one of several artificial island developments in Dubai. The World’s developer is Nakheel Properties, and the project was originally conceived by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.
As of 2010, only a single island had any building on it, which was a show home – all the other projects having been cancelled or delayed due to the 2008 financial crisis. While the developer, Dubai government, and researchers from the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology deny it, a participant in a related law suit has alleged that the islands are sinking back into the sea.
Islands in the archipelago range from 14,000 to 42,000 square metres (150,000 to 450,000 sq ft) in area. Distances between islands average 100 metres (330 ft); they are constructed from 321 million cubic metres of sand and 31 million tons of rock. The entire development is an area that covers 6 by 9 kilometres (3.7 by 5.6 mi) and is surrounded by an oval-shaped breakwater island. Roughly 232 km (144 mi) of shoreline was created. The World’s overall development costs were estimated at $14 billion USD in 2005.
The project was unveiled in May 2003 by Sheikh Mohammed and dredging began four months later in September 2003. By January 2008, 60% of the islands were sold, 20 of which were bought in the first four months of 2007. On 10 January 2008 the final stone on the breakwater was laid, completing development of the archipelago.
The Times Online reports in September 2009 that work on The World had been suspended due to the effects of the global financial crisis. And in February 2010 the Daily Mail reported that the Islands have started sinking back into the sea. This was later denied by Nakheel and independent technical reports as wholly inaccurate. Despite the denial, The Daily Telegraph reported in January 2011 that an independent company, Penguin Marine, provided verification on the erosion of the islands and the silting of the passage ways between the islands. Due to finance and technical problems Penguin Marine, the company contracted to provide transportation to the archipelago, is attempting to get out of the annual fees of $1.6 million paid to Nakheel properties.
As of early 2011, only one of the islands is occupied by a building (a show home) on it, and commercial or residential properties are not currently being constructed on any of the other islands. Property prices in the Emirates have fallen 58 percent from their peak in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Purchase and development plans
The World was serviced by four major transportation hubs linked by waterways. Land parcels are zoned for various uses: estate, mid density, high density, resorts and commercial. A Dubai Infinity Holdings construction planner has stated that developers have been negotiating with Nakheel about temporary siting of a cement batching plant on one of the islands to supply subdivided construction.
Utilities are routed underwater, with water plants at each of the hubs pumping fresh water to the islands. Power is supplied by the Dubai Grid and distributed through underwater cables. Waste water and refuse systems are an individual concern for each island.
Nakheel Group is itself further developing a resort named Coral Island over 20 islands that make up the North American part of The World. The low-rise development will include a marina and hotel village. The second largest confirmed development is the purchase of 14 islands that make up Australia and New Zealand by Investment Dar of Kuwait. The islands are being terraformed to be developed as a resort named OQYANA. Irish business consortium Larionovo had plans to develop the Ireland island into an Irish-themed resort. The plans include a large internal marina, apartments and villas, a gym, hotel, and an Irish-themed pub. In July 2007 it was announced that the Ireland Island would feature a recreation of Northern Ireland‘s Giants Causeway. However on 25 November 2008 a provisional liquidator was appointed to Larionovo.
In April 2008, Salya Corporation announced that it had acquired the islands of Finland and Brunei in The World and planned to develop them into fashion-themed resorts. Salya spent about Dh800 million ($218 million USD) to purchase the islands and plans to spend a further Dh2.4 billion ($654 million USD) on development. Brunei Island will be turned into a Fashion TV resort and Finland Island will be turned into a fashion community called FTV palace.
The islands of Great Britain and Moscow on The World were acquired by Premier Real Estate Bureau in the Summer of 2008. The news was leaked in a Daily Mail article of January 2009, refuting claims that Great Britain was owned by Irish investor John O’Dolan, Richard Branson or Rod Stewart. Safi Qurashi, the one-time multi-millionaire entrepreneur  at the head of Premier and his business partner Mustafa Nagri, paid an estimated $64 million USD for the 11-acre (45,000 m2) piece of land; he was later convicted for non-payment of cheques and sentenced to seven years in jail. The Irish businessman John O’Dolan, who purchased the “Ireland” island, committed suicide in February 2009, after his consortium fell into financial difficulty.