Half The World away from its 2010 target

Nakheel will have a challenge to complete the remainder of The World project unless it finds specialist island resort developers.

ISLAND TAILS: Only half of the islands planned for The World development have been sold to sub-developers
ISLAND TAILS: Only half of the islands planned for The World development have been sold to sub-developers

Nakheel will have a challenge to complete the remainder of The World project unless it finds specialist island resort developers.

Reclamation work on the massive island development - which will be made up of 300 islands - was completed in January.

But only half of the islands have been bought by sub-developers, according to Hamza Mustafa, director, The World.

And this phase of the project is also challenged with a target completion date of early 2010.

"We've sold 50% of the project. And two years from now, 50% will be finished," he said.

"But it is very difficult to find developers for the rest.

Dubai's a very specialist market - you have many overnight developers, but not many with experience.

"Our main problem is finding proper developers who have built on islands - like in the Maldives and the Seychelles.

Mustafa added that in Nakheel's global search for specialist developers it has implemented a stringent criteria process.

"You can't just buy an island," he said. "You have to pass a rigorous due diligence test. We only seek experienced developers.

The names of island owners have been largely kept under wraps by Nakheel but amongthose confirmed is Kuwait-based The Investment Dar, which is developing the Oqyana development, 20 islands that make up the Australia and New Zealand components of the project.

Four islands are owned by Chinese developers: in October last year, businessman Bin Hi bought Shanghai for US $28 million (AED102 million) and said that he would bid for five more islands that represent China - Macao, Beijing, Huainan, Nanjing and Hong Kong.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are reported to have bought Ethiopia for an environmental development, while Nakheel is also believed to be in talks with Indian Venture Capital Fund for the purchase of two islands.

"I think the challenge with such a project lies more with whether or not developers have access to a market that is ready for this type of product," said a Dubai-based real estate analyst. "The others challenges will be on contractors getting the materials and equipment to the site.

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