The long-term target for the Dubai Waterfront, the largest scheme of local property developer Nakheel, is a permanent population of 1.5 million people, said Joyce, managing director of Dubai Waterfront Company.

“Dubai Waterfront represents about 65 per cent of Nakheel’s land bank and will also involve reclaiming six islands with a total of 2,600 hectares from the Gulf,” said Joyce, speaking at MEED’s Dubai Megaprojects conference on 3 March. “It will add about 70 kilometres of beachfront to the coastline and is twice the size of Hong Kong island.”

Joyce said the waterfront will provide accommodation for people from Dubai and beyond. “More than 1 million jobs will be created over the next five years in the Jebel Ali Free Zone & Port Authority, the Technology Park, Dubai Industrial City and Al-Maktoum Airport. They will need somewhere to live. Hopefully that will be the waterfront.”

Joyce said Nakheel waited until January 2008 to promote the project. “The fundamental reason is risk management,” he said. “What traditionally happens is that the project is launched at the concept stage.

“[But] to avoiding breaking our promises to customers, we did not bring the project to market until we had dealt with planning risk, design risk and construction risks. We also need to avoid margin erosion. We can only do that when we have locked away construction cost.”

The Madinat Arab is the most advanced of Dubai Waterfront’s original seven phases. It involves a built-up area of 12.3 million square metres. The 570-hectare waterfront city will have a permanent population of 80,000 and a transient population of 250,000 people. Work is to be completed in 2018.

Other phases include Boulevard Park, Canal district, Venetia district, Badrah district and Omran district.

Boulevard Park will cover 100 hectares and serve a population of 300,000. The Canal district will have five harbours, a land area of 178 hectares and will be completed in 2016.

The Venetia district will comprise 13,000 villas and 14,000 apartments. Its target population is 14,000 and will be completed in 2012.

The Badrah district, covering 575 hectares, also aims for 14,000 residents and completion in 2012. The Omran district will involve building low-cost housing for 60,000 people working on Nakheel and other projects. Completion is due in 2010.

Work has started on four of the six towers in the Waterfront’s Palm Canal Towers, and the project will be launched for sale in June, said Joyce. Conceptual design is under way on the Badrah Gate Commercial Towers, which will have total floor space of 80,000 square metres.

Work is well advanced on the six islands. “This is the biggest land reclamation project in the world and is bigger than Palm Deira,” said Joyce. “We are reclaiming land fast enough to fill Wembley stadium three times every month.”

Under Dubai Waterfront’s infrastructure plans, the project is expected to deal with all its utilities needs, although it expects to be supplied with power and water by the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority.

“The other responsibility is to regulate not only ourselves but all other third party developers,” said Joyce. “[Otherwise] we shall have a mess.”