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Dubai: Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Marjan Island, the emirate’s first man-made island project, is trying to woo Chinese companies to what it argues will feature the Ibiza of the Middle East.
Al Marjan is a four-island development off the coast of the UAE’s most northern emirate. One of the four islands, Dream Island, is being promoted to one day rival Ibiza, one of Europe’s biggest party destinations.
But after securing Emirati, Kuwait, Czech and some Chinese investment, Al Marjan thinks there is more appetite among Chinese companies to get involved in the project.
In a presentation at the China-Middle East Business Forum in Dubai on Wednesday, Al Marjan Sales and Marketing Director, George Saad, said there is “great potential” for Chinese construction, development and services companies in the project.
“We are very keen to work with Chinese companies,” he said.
Saad declined to answer questions from Gulf News after his presentation, including how much investment the project was seeking or had raised so far. Media reports put the cost of the development at $1 billion.
“We’re looking for a lot of support and partnership,” he said in his presentation.
About 15 per cent of the four islands is finished with most of the work having taken place on Breeze Island, which connects the emirate by land. Once complete, the islands will stretch 4.5 kilometres into the ocean, covering 2.7 million square kilometres. There will be 7.8 kilometres of beach shoreline and 8,000 hotel rooms.
The development is part of Ras Al Khaimah’s plan to attract 2.9 million visitors by 2025. Tourism is a substantial revenue stream for the emirate that has no natural resources such as oil but was still able generate to Dh29 billion in GDP (gross domestic product) in 2014. But the UAE is facing a drop in the number of visitors from Russian, once a key source market for Ras Al Khaimah, which have fallen off the back of a sustained weak rouble.
In Saad’s presentation, Russia failed to get a mention on a slide of Ras Al Khaimah’s top European source markets. Instead, the top markets are now Germany, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden and Italy.