A multi million pound development in Dubai will include two new manmade islands with luxury villas, a private marina, water park and leisure facilities including the Middle East’s first Cirque Du Soleil.

The islands, called Marsa Al Arab, will be built on either side of the iconic Burj Al Arab, covering four million square feet with 140 villas. The development completion date set for 2020 in time for the opening of Expo 2020.

Some experts expressed surprise at the decision by developer Dubai Holding’s plans as the emirate already has a number of manmade islands, several of which are still only partially complete.

The most famous artificial island is Palm Jumeriah in the shape of a palm tree which has hotels, villas and apartments. Palm Jebel Ali, where construction began in 2002 has yet to be completed and Palm Deira plans have been scaled down.

The World, which was described at its launch as recreating a map of the globe with 300 islands in the shape of the main continents, is also not finished. Development stalled during the global economic downturn a decade ago.

Most of the islands in The World are still bare and undeveloped. But some developers are coming back. The Kleindienst Group has announced that it has appointed main contractors to build on six islands that make up its Heart of Europe project.

Palm Deira is now known as Deira Islands and Dubai developer Nakheel said it plans to build 16 residential towers with 2,924 town houses and apartments spread over four clusters each of which will have its own swimming pool, as well as retail, restaurant and recreation space with a completion date of 2020.

However, Nakheel’s Pal Jebel Ali development remains on hold. It described it as ‘a long term project’. The next stage is being planned, however, and the infrastructure design for four of the five zones is underway for the waterfront area covering 522 hectares with 266 mixed use plots of land.

However, Abdulla Al Habbai, chairman of Dubai Holding, the company managing the Marsa Al Arab project, believes that it is a good time to be building more iconic projects and said that the fact that it is aimed at the emirate’s growing tourism market as well as wealthy property buyers makes it unique.

‘The launch of this new and ambitious project is in line with the directives of the visionary leadership to provide the finest and rewarding tourist experiences for visitors to Dubai which has a global reputation for unique offerings and unprecedented achievements,’ he pointed out.

He explained that the development was feasible through proper planning and accurate execution and research has provided an in-depth knowledge of the local market’s needs and capabilities.

‘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,’ he added.

The luxury villas will be operated by Jumeirah Group and the development will also offer 300 sea front residential apartments and will add 2.2 kilometres of beach frontage to the popular Jumeirah area of the city.

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