However, Nakheel will now be the sole shareholder and is inviting investors to purchase and build independent components within the development. The first phase – Madinat al-Arab – has been sold to private investors and 60 per cent to the recently created Al-Burj Real Estate, a private stock company with capital of $2,000 million. The company is owned by Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB).

Madinat al-Arab will be built on the last remaining stretch of coastline between Palm Jebel Ali and the Abu Dhabi border. Some 70 per cent of the 30 million-square-metre development will be residential space, and when complete will be home to some 500,000 people. The project involves the construction of about 200 towers. Its landmark will be Al-Burj, one of the world’s tallest buildings being designed by US-based Pei Partnership. The project also involves the construction of a man-made harbour and marina.

Construction of phase 1 is expected to start in 12-18 months and take three-five years to complete. The first packages out for tender will be excavation works for the harbour, followed by enabling and infrastructure works. Total investment in the first phase is expected to be about AED 13,000 million ($3,500 million).

Dubai Waterfront comprises 10 districts covering an area of 170 square miles, almost three times the size of Washington DC. US-based Gruzen Samtonprepared the Waterfront masterplan with Michael Graves & Associates and Davis Brody Bond, also of the US, and MVRDV of the Netherlands. UK-based Davis Langdon is the cost consultant, Canada’s Cansultis the traffic consultant and Netherlands-based Delft Hydraulicsis the marine engineering consultant. Nakheel is in the process of selecting a project manager from a shortlist that is understood to contain four companies.