Brave new World
The first developer has moved on to The World to begin construction
Dubai’s reputation for ambitious projects is legendary. The emirate is not only home to the tallest skyscraper, largest shopping mall, biggest dancing fountain and largest manmade island in the world, but it also has a 300-island archipelago, visible from outer space, sitting four-kilometres off the coast, ripe for development.
The first of the developers on The World is Dubai-based Kleindienst Group, a real estate company established in the emirate in 2003, with its six island Heart of Europe project which combines luxury holiday villas, exclusive hotels, climate-controlled streets surrounding its shopping centres – and world leading green technologies.
It’s a bold start to a development that will eventually see the 300 islands as one of the most desirable places to live, spend vacations and shop in the Middle East.
“The average stay of any tourist in Dubai is less than three days. We want to attract them to stay two weeks, but for that you need to have a lot to offer,” said group CEO and mastermind behind the project Josef Kleindienst.
“There is a lot for people to do in Dubai, yes, but there needs to be more. People come here, they see the Burj, the see the Fountain, the see the Dubai Mall, they go to the Ski slope [in Mall of the Emirates], maybe, and they see the Atlantis and everything there. We want to add something to that, another ‘must see’ that means they have to stay a bit longer,” he added.
Looking at Kleindienst’s plans, it’s not hard to feel a pang of excitement about what the company envisages.
Starting with its 20-villa Germany island, due for completion at the end of 2011, the company will also develop Monte Carlo as a yacht club and party island before moving on to Switzerland island’s family hotel; Austria’s wedding hotel and destination; St Petersberg’s hotel villa development and, finally, Sweden’s shopping centre.
However, there’s a lot of work, planning and red tape to negotiate before the six lumps of sand in the Arabian Gulf become the first islands of The World to realise Kleindienst’s ambitions.
The first steps were taken earlier this year when Kleindienst commissioned Foundation Construction Group for the soil improvement operation – or ‘vibro-compaction’ – on Germany island.
The work took four months before the equipment was transferred to neighbouring Monte Carlo island across a temporary land bridge, while Dubai-based City Diamond Contracting moved in to begin other preparation work on Germany island.
The first phase is to build the first villa on Germany island, and to also have Monte Carlo island’s clubhouse, pool and landscaping in time for the venue’s first official party on 31st December to welcome in the new year. The remaining 19 villas will be built over a 15-month period, which means they’re on schedule for a December 2011 completion.
The first issue was to sort out logistics. At the moment, all machinery, construction materials and other bulk products are shipped to the island by 120-tonne landing craft from Dubai’s Port Rashid. Each trip out costs AED 8,000 which, according to Kleindienst, makes it exceptionally expensive if each trip is not fully utilised.
“If you don’t watch this properly, then the price will run away. We’re looking at our options. Port Rashid is not perfect because it’s not close enough to the islands, and the procedure is complicated. Port Rashid is an international port and not one that is really designed for what we have in mind.
“When Nakheel decided to build these islands, the plan was to build two smaller marinas in Umm Suqiem and Jumeira to serve these islands. Then they changed to one bigger service marina near Maritime City. Until there is an alternative, then we will have to continue to use Port Rashid.”
For City Diamond Contracting, the issues were a little more rudimentary, as company managing director Deepak Arora explained.
“Setting up has meant getting staff to understand what is required to work out here. Some of them had never been on a boat before, so getting them to come out was a real challenge: they were so scared, they weren’t willing to go back again. Workers coming in to the port were really scared. The first couple of days, the seas were a little rough too,” he said.
“Scheduling and logistics is key. We are working to set up the labour camp on the site because it will help us with transportation, we can use extra hours to work to complete the project on time. It’s to be built in a very short time. Coming and going takes a lot of time, and it’s time we’d prefer was spent working on the project,” Arora said.
City Diamond will have a permanent staff of between 15-20 onsite throughout the duration of the project, and use specialists from its wider group of companies when required. Steel fitters, MEP staff and other specialist skilled workers will spend time on the island when their talents are required.
The steel-framed villas will be built on solid concrete floor slabs and offer buyers the flexibility of three, four or five-bedroom floorplans – with a choice of open or closed plan kitchens, and a raft of other choices over final fit and finish.
So far, 12 of the luxury holiday homes have been sold, with the first show home set aside for Kleindienst himself. “I will live out here permanently. These are holiday villas, yes, but I am responsible for the project, so it is important that I be here to work through any issues. You can’t be based on the mainland when you have such an important project to deal with,” he said.
The islands will also be completely self sufficient. All power and water will need to be produced, all sewage processed and all rubbish on the islands collected, compacted and sold for recycling.
Kleindienst says each of the six islands will be connected to an “international” power grid as they are completed, and that a vacuum sewage system will also connect the six islands and centrally separate grey and black water, portioning off the treated grey water for irrigation.
Germany island’s villas will be fitted with enough solar panels to produce an oversupply of energy to help fill in any deficits in demand from energy heavy islands like Monte Carlo – while clean burning diesel generators will be used should the solar photovoltaic systems not be sufficient, once all six islands are connected.
Kleindienst is also in discussion with German firms over advanced wind turbine generators and other renewable energy systems.
A sustainable World
Kleindienst says that while island developments are excluded from LEED ratings, that won’t stop him following green building ideals.
“For us, the quality of this place is the quality nature has to offer: the clean water, a fresh air, nice beaches, fish and sealife. You have to follow this quality in whatever you do – and you can’t build a non-green building in this kind of environment.
“It’s very important for us to follow green building ideas. Reduce energy consumption, produce energy out of solar power systems: the sun is available here.
For solar power, it’s around four times more expensive than DEWA power, but we have to compare it with power out of diesel generators, and of course, you have another level of return when you compare it with this. With our business plan, it would make no sense for DEWA to connect these islands with the mainland right now.
“There is one principle we are following on the island of Sweden. One of the fathers of city planning is an Austrian architect called Camillo Sitte, and one of his principles was that everything that you need for daily life must be within walking distance. Only the cemetery can be far away.
“We will also have, in our climate controlled roads, a rain system. We know people here love the rain. Rain is something typically European, so that means there will be times out there when it will start raining. People will enjoy the rain, they will go to the bars, restaurants, shops and buy something, or sit out and enjoy the rain.
“The rain will cool down the roads. The wind moves against the water, and the water only needs to be cold. We use the water from the dehumidification of the building, and this water will be used for the rain system.
So how often will it rain on the island? "When the shops are empty and its too hot."