Property news from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is currently focusing on the prospect of more manmade islands, with Dubai Holding announcing plans to create two more mammoth constructions in the future.

The new development, managed by Dubai Holding, will consist of two islands collectively named Marsa Al Arab. The islands are expected to be built on either side of a completed artificial island project, the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah.

The two islands will be split in purpose, with one featuring holiday resorts, a 2.5 million square foot marine park and a sizable custom-built theatre, where developers plan to stage the first Cirque du Soleil performance in the Middle East. Housing will not be absent on the island, however, as 300 waterfront apartments are also to be built.

The second will have a much greater focus on luxury accommodation and will be private. Among the planned residences are 14 lavish villas and a marina, as well as a boutique hotel.

The investment company is being ambitious with its Marsa Al Arab plans, but does have a controversial legacy with other manmade islands. While Palm Jumeriah, a palm tree-shaped island, has been successfully completed and is operational, other developments are still under construction or on hold over financial concerns.

The financial crisis of the late 2000’s threw Dubai’s construction industry into chaos, with some projects grinding to a halt, only to resume infrequently since then. Another palm tree-shaped island, the Palm Jebel Ali, is one such casualty. Work started on the island in 2002 but the project remains in development limbo.

Another ambitious construction, ‘The World’, is similarly incomplete. Some of the 300 islands (shaped like the continents of the world) are in use, but most remain barren ahead of further investment.

Dubai Holding Chairman Abdulla Al Habbai remains optimistic about the new build, stating;
‘The launch of this new and ambitious project is in line with the directives of the visionary leadership, to provide the finest and [most] rewarding tourist experiences for visitors to Dubai, which has a global reputation for unique offerings and unprecedented achievements. The project will support Emiratisation in the tourism sector by providing new job opportunities and encouraging Emiratis to commit their innovative and creative ideas to this vital sector’.

Dubai Holding expects to finish construction on Marsa Al Arab by 2020, in time for the Expo 2020 event which will bring companies and investors from across the world to Dubai.

Dubai’s complete and in-progress islands are visible by satellite, so it will be easy to see how construction is progressing on these new endeavours. It remains to be seen if Marsa Al Arab will be completed in time for Expo 2020, but even if it misses the deadline, it seems that artificial island are the future for Dubai’s property development ambitions.