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Over the years, developer Kleindienst has been beavering away on the design plans for its The Heart of Europe (THOE) development, the first major project to materialise in Dubai’s The World islands. The six-million-sq-ft master-plan development comprises six islands connected by bridges. With a combined capacity for 15,000 people, the six islands have changed names several times over the years, but the developer has finally settled with Main Europe, Germany, Monaco, Sweden, St. Petersburg and Switzerland.
“We have changed the master plan in its entirety three times over the last eight years,” says Josef Kleindienst, CEO of Kleindienst Group. “However, the main ideas were sustained. We are lucky to be the first one [to develop on The World], but we are taking a risk. Of course, [there were] some sleepless nights.”
The project will still include a number of the features announced during its launch, such as climate-controlled streets. However, the original plan to build a mix of residential and hospitality elements has been scrapped.
“The reason why we eliminated the entire residential component is because we want to make this a place purely for tourists,” Kleindienst explains. “Not for people to live here permanently, but to come for a holiday or weekend, and to party.”
The islands will offer plenty to do, including water sports activities, and will have a natural aquarium, aviary and water park. The Austrian developer says the islands will host a lot of events. “We’re bringing concepts in the form of hotels, restaurants and entertainment that are new to Dubai.”
Luxury floating villas on Dubai's World Islands
Noting that around 75 per cent of branded hotels globally belong to six major hotel management companies, Kleindienst says he plans to bring some of the best independent hotels in Europe, most of which are owned and operated by family businesses. “This trend hasn’t reached Dubai yet. Austria alone has more than 12,000 hotels – not one of these brands are here, but we’re bringing them. We have signed some, but we will announce the names only when all the packages are ready.”
The islands of Sweden and Germany will house the holiday homes. Sweden will also have 21,000-sq-ft beach palaces featuring private beaches and infinity pools, seven bedrooms, sauna, gym and snow rooms.
“The 10 palaces are under construction and all sold to mostly billionaires and royals at prices above Dh50m. We build them for the superrich, so they need to be special. It is [also] the first time Bentley Homes is involved with a project here,” says Kleindienst.
The Germany island will offer 32 holiday homes facing the beach or a lagoon, and with more “affordable” prices of around Dh15m. “High-net-worth individuals, such as those living on The Palm or Emirates Hills, are buying these villas,” says Kleindienst, adding that a number of billionaires have snapped some of the development’s floating villas. “Some are still available for sale and we keep some stock for us. Owners can use them or put them in a hotel pool for rent.”
Living on water
More than 130 floating villas, dubbed the Floating Seahorse, are being built around St Petersburg island. The original and Tzar editions have been sold out, while the Signature Edition is still available. These floating homes boast 4,000 sq ft of climate-controlled space over three levels, including one under water. The floating villas also offer flexible and customised living and sleeping areas.
St Petersburg will be a heart-shaped island, intending to remind honeymooners of the Maldives and the Seychelles. The five-star resort island connects to the Floating Seahorses via jetties. Despite its tropical theme, it will still evoke a European feel to “attract Europeans to come and stay here,” says Kleindienst.
Located on the Europe island, the five-star Russian-themed Tzar Hotel is a remnant of the original master plan. “The entire Main Europe island was named St Petersburg originally,” explains Kleindienst. He says the island would also be home to the Italian-designed Portofino Hotel, which will be exclusive for families, while partygoers could turn to the Ibiza hotel.
As the main island, Europe will have most of the cafés, restaurants and boutiques, nestled along the marina’s cobbled streets and plazas. “We also have the Marbella, Cote d’Azure, and Berlin beach and marina hotels, as well as four hotels connected in the middle via a swimming pool on the roof,” says Kleindienst. “We’re aiming for a world record with that one, but a lot of work still has to be done.”
Monaco and Switzerland
The island of Monaco, will offer a lifestyle rivalling the original, says Kleindienst, featuring a harbour and all the expected entertainment venues, as well as a “seven-star” hotel with panoramic sky bar. Switzerland, meanwhile, is going for a “six-star” hotel and spa. A circus will provide entertainment.
“Our hotels on Monaco and Switzerland are not rated seven-star or six-star, it doesn’t exist, but tourists would consider them as such. These star [ratings] are a recognition within the tourism industry,” says Kleindienst.
The first phase of THOE will be completed by year end, with the rest in stages until full completion in 2019. Among those to be completed in the first phase are some of the floating villas, palaces on Sweden, swimming pools and St Petersburg.
“Of the six islands, four are already handed over to the contractors,” says Kleindienst. “I want to open the heart-shaped island and get the first Sweden beach palaces ready this year.”
The 444-room Portofino family hotel is slated for completion by the end of next year and all other hotels by end of 2018. “We are tendering and targeting contractors that have built similar hotels and found five who have proven they can do it in 14 months,” says Kleindienst. “You’ll also be able to move into all of the palaces and Germany villas by end of next year, and move into some of the floating villas [starting] this year.”
La Mer promise - a new island destination
The floating homes are being imported in pieces from different places around the world, such as Burma and Japan, and assembled in Dubai’s dry docks, before they are hauled to The World. In the meantime, all islands have been compacted and shaped, with the required infrastructure in place. The developer also built its own temporary plant producing 2,000 cubic metres of concrete a day, and a logistics camp for 3,000 workers on one of the islands.
“Dubai is too far to ship the concrete in. It would go hard on the journey,” says Kleindienst. “We already have 500 workers on the island, and we use barges on a daily basis to bring in 600 tonnes of equipment. We also have boats running from Port Rashid and Jumeirah every hour for the engineers and construction team.”
Energy and water
The developer has also set up a power plant for the construction of the project. Once in operation, the development would require a base load of 20 megawatts (MW) and a peak load of 50MW.
“In a perfect scenario we’re building a power plant for 30MW, and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority [Dewa] will [supply] 20MW for the base load,” says Kleindienst. “They can produce it at a better price because their price for diesel is better than ours. But I can produce the peak load for a better price than Dewa.
“They’re going under the sea to connect The World, but haven’t yet started, as it’s still too early. They need more volume.
“In any case it’s no issue for us as we’re building a hybrid system, which can be combined with the Dewa system when applicable.”
Source: Nicolas Walter, Special to Property Weekly