Local developer Meraas Holding is planning to build a AED6bn ($1.6bn) island development off the Dubai coast.

Known as Bluewaters, the island will be located next to Jumeirah Beach Residences 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.

Construction work on the scheme is scheduled to start in April. South Korea’s Hyundai Contracting and Netherlands-based Starneth Engineering have been appointed to build the 210-metre-tall Dubai Eye.

For transportation, the project will be connected to the mainland with a road linking to Sheikh Zayed road and a monorail line that will connect to the Dubai Metro. A pedestrian bridge will link the island with the Jumeirah Beach Residences promenade.

Once complete, Bluewaters is forecast to draw more than three million visitors each year. The plans were approved by the UAE’s Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, on 13 February.

Dubai is launching more projects as its real estate market rebounds from the crash of 2008 and 2009. “There is clearly momentum in Dubai’s real estate sector, with a notable return to development activity over the past 12 months,” says Mat Green, head of research UAE, at the US’ CBRE Middle East. “The recent announcement highlights a clear strategy from the Dubai government to improve the emirate’s tourism as it aims to be more competitive on the global tourism stage. This strategy will see the launch and completion of various new leisure schemes such as Bluewaters, which are aimed at widening the overall appeal of Dubai as a travel destination, while also underpinning the long-term attractiveness of the emirate.”

Last year, Meraas awarded the local Khansaheb Civil Engineering the contract to build a beachfront retail and entertainment development next to Jumeirah Beach Residences. The project’s architect is the UK-based Benoy.