“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself”*…
The World (or World Islands) is an artificial archipelago of various small islands constructed of dredged sand in the rough shape of a world map, in the Persian Gulf, 2.5 miles off the coast of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Intended as a retreat for the uber-rich, it was begun in 2003, and was reported at one point to be 70% sold. But the financial crisis of 2008 threw the project off track. Frank Jacobs (Strange Maps) checks in…
In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams dreams up the planet Magrathea, thriving on the ‘custom-made luxury planet building’ industry. The Magratheans design and manufacture entire planets for the wealthiest people in the universe. One of those planets was Earth, and one of its designers won an award for his work on the fjords of Norway.
There are no fjords (yet) on The World. That would make the resemblance to the HHGttG story even more eerie. For the collection of islands, 2.5 miles off the coast, also is a vanity project aimed at the astronomically rich. Only, it doesn’t look like they’re flocking to The World just yet. One obvious reason: much of it is still under construction…
By 2010 [after the 2008 crash], with local property prices recovering from the worst of the recession – and Dubai pockets being fairly deep – it seemed that work was about to resume. Dubai-based Kleindienst Group announced it would start work on The Heart of Europe, a collection of six islands (including Monaco, Germany, St. Petersburg and Sweden islands; Netherlands island seems to have been renamed Europe island). But financial disputes between Kleindienst and Nakheel kept the development on hold until an out of court settlement was reached. Work resumed in earnest in January 2014.
Despite announcements over the years of island sales and grandiose development schemes throughout the archipelago, by the end of 2013 only two islands had effectively been developed. One being Lebanon island, with a Royal Beach Club rented out for corporate events, private parties and public functions. The other one is Upernavik island in the Greenland area, which has a show home on it.
So what’s the future going to bring for The World? Amazing, luxurious, captivating things, if you believe the corporate blurb on The Heart of Europe website [here]:
“Each island within The Heart of Europe will be modelled by different European countries, reflecting the very sights, sounds, aromas and tapestry that make these destinations so timeless and unique. The main Island Europe is designed with flavours from Vienna, Rome, Andalusia and Côte d’Azur, while the other islands bring the inspiration from Monaco, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and St. Petersburg”.
And also a few genuinely bizarre things:
* “The first rain and snow-lined streets [in the Gulf Region], made possible through German engineering and technology”.
* [A] number of unique floating villas with underwater rooms offering magnificent views of the spectacular sea world”. Why not add a few U-boats – made possible through German engineering and technology.
* “Some of Europe’s most talented street performers, from playful acrobats and dancers to eclectic artists and musicians”. That explains the disappearance of the guy down my street who will play La Marseillaise on his armpit for a can of beer.
* “Outdoor climate-controlled streets […] A concept that truly will bring European weather to Dubai!” This might actually scare off most European tourists.
The website promises the imminent launch of Phase 2 of The Heart of Europe, on Sweden Island. But exact dates, also of the project’s overall completion, are impossible to find. We’re left wondering when The World will be finished. And whether they’ll find the time and the money to put in some prize-winning fjords.
More at “The World (Under Construction).”
* Leo Tolstoy
As we wonder at how the other half means to live, we might send natural birthday greetings to Richard Jefferies; he was born on this date in 1848. A writer noted for his depiction of English rural life in essays, books of natural history, and novels, he is probably best known for Bevis (1882), a classic children’s book (with an Animal Farm-like message that, of course, predates Orwell by decades), The Story of My Heart (an 1883 essay that located Jefferies as the leading nature writer of his time), and After London (1885), an early work of science fiction… to the extent that he is remembered at all.