Dubai-based developers are moving ahead with its next generation of offshore island projects, as confidence returns to the emirate’s real estate sector and property prices continue to rise.

Meraas is developing three of these new projects. The least publicised scheme is the Jumana Island (1) development, which is currently being built off the coast in the Jumeirah area close to the under-construction Four Seasons hotel. The 585,000-square-metre island, also known as the Island 2 project, will be connected to the mainland by a 300m bridge. Once complete, the development will include low-rise apartment buildings, a boutique resort and a marina.

The consultant for the bridge is US-based Parsons International. The contractor is the local/UK Dutco Balfour Beatty. The consultant for the island is France’s Sogreah. The contractor is Van Oord of the Netherlands.

Meraas is also working on the Pearl Jumeira (2), located close to Dubai Drydocks, which is itself close to the heart of the traditional downtown areas of Dubai.

Meraas is developing the infrastructure on the 770,000 sq m island, allowing investors to come and build their own properties. There are more than 300 residential villa plots split into seven zones.

The project consultant is Lebanon’s Dar al-Handasah. The Saudi Binladin Group is the contractor for the infrastructure works. Van Oord was the dredging contractor.

Meraas’ other offshore island project is located off the Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) coastline. The AED6bn ($1.6bn) Bluewaters (3) scheme was launched in February this year and will include the AED1bn Dubai Eye, which will be The World’s largest ferris wheel, together with other retail, residential, hospitality and entertainment zones.

Several firms are already working on the project. South Korea’s Hyundai Contracting and Netherlands-based Starneth Engineering have been appointed to build the 210-metre-tall Dubai Eye.

As well as the ferris wheel, the scheme will include a five-star hotel, various residential properties, and a promenade of shops and restaurants. Once complete, Bluewaters is expected to attract more than 3 million visitors each year.

These new projects will complement Dubai’s older offshore island projects that are still being developed. The largest and most advanced is the Palm Jumeirah (4). Launched in 2002, the multibillion-dollar project was officially opened in 2008. After several years of sluggish development, new projects began to be built in 2012 when the developer of the Palm Jumeirah, Nakheel, appointed the local Dubai Civil Engineering (DCE) to build the Palma Resiences.

Since then, a variety of other construction projects have started and more are planned. Nakheel is set to tender the Nakheel Mall development on the Palm Jumeirah before the end of the year. The mall, expected to cost about AED1bn ($272.3m) to build, excluding a five-star hotel also planned for the site, will be tendered as a build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract.

Construction work is also expected to start on another of Nakheel’s island projects, The World(5). Completed in 2008, the company says investors have begun preparing plans for projects on the man-made archipelago again, and they expect work to start on some of these projects soon.

Speaking to MEED in July, Nakheel chairman Ali Rashid Lootah said: “We are trying to help the developers kickstart this process and giving them some flexibility.” He added that Nakheel has reached settlements worth AED924m with investors in The World, which will enable the buyers of the islands to start progressing with their plans.

Still constrained by debts from the pre-2008 property boom, Nakheel wants to avoid investing in projects that do not produce a return. In 2008 and 2009 it had to abandon its plans for Palm Jebel Ali (6), Palm Deira and Dubai Waterfront after dredging and reclamation work was well advanced.

Dubai Waterfront was the world’s largest waterfront development and, when completed, would have been twice the size of Hong Kong Island. The offshore component was seven man-made islands.

Reclamation work on the development began in July 2006 when Belgium’s Jan de Nul was awarded the $1bn-1.5bn dredging package. The contract involves the placement of more than 300 million cubic metres of sand and 12 million cubic metres of rock to protect the islands.

At the other end of Dubai, Nakheel was working on the Palm Deira (12). It involved the creation of a series of islands that, when completed, were expected to house more than 1 million people.

Van Oord was awarded the estimated $2.9bn reclamation contract for Palm Deira in 2005. At the time, it was expected to take about half of the world’s dredging fleet to complete the works.

Nakheel was also planning to build another series of reclaimed islands known as the Universe (7). The project, located off Dubai coast between Palm Jumeirah and Palm Deira, involved building a series of islands on which major residential, commercial and tourism projects will be built. In total, the project would have covered 30 square kilometres of land and would have taken 15 to 20 years to develop. The plans for the project were scrapped before any significant work had started.

Other developers were also planning and building offshore islands that are now on hold. Construction work had started on Zabeel Properties Porto Dubai“>Porto Dubai (8) project in the Umm Suqeim area.

Porto Dubai involves an offshore island connected to the mainland by a causeway. The local ArabtecConstruction was building a boutique hotel and 47 luxury villas as part of the scheme. Netherlands-based Royal Boskalis Westminster was the dredging contractor.

Construction work had also started on Zabeel’s Al-Dubawi (9) resort, which was planned for the small island to the southwest of the Palm Jumeirah’s trunk. UK-based Laing O’Rourke started work on the estimated AED1bn ($273m) project in early 2008. It was understood at the time to include about 50 holiday villas, a small hotel, a spa and shops.

Sama Dubai was planning Falcon Island (10). That scheme, still in the early planning stage when it was shelved, would have looked like a falcon when viewed from above, and would have been built close to the Burj al-Arab hotel.

Bright Start (11) was planning another development, the for which was not announced, that would have also included reclaimed land next to Dubai Offshore Sailing Club and would have been similar in scale to the Porto Dubai scheme.

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