BUILT for the super rich at a whopping cost of £10billion, hundreds of eerie deserted islands sit just off Dubai's white sandy coast.
The futuristic manmade islands were created using huge amounts of sand from the Persian Gulf.
Several million tons of rocks were used to keep it all in place.
The design was supposed to look like the five continents of the world from an aerial view, split up into individual islands representing each country.
Dubai, the city known for its affluent and exclusive lifestyle, has never failed to impress the world’s population with its glamorous and impressive architectural ideas.
From constructing the Burj Khalifa – the world's tallest building – to the brilliantly shaped Museum of the Future, Dubai has always been determined to outclass the rest of the world when it comes to ideas and designs.
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But the World Islands project left Dubai with an expensive reminder that some ideas are simply too big to pull off.
The manmade development spans five miles long and is made up of 300 empty islands ranging from 250,000 to 900,000 square foot each.
Billions was pumped into the idea that Dubai could give each country its own island for the super-rich to visit so they can get a taste of different cultures within one city.
Global icons like Richard Branson, the late Karl Lagerfeld and Michael Schumacher all had trips to some of the islands.
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But the financial troubles that took over the world in 2008 severely damaged the United Arab Emirates economy – particularly the real estate sector.
An estimated $300billion in projects were forced to be scaled back, put on hold or cancelled.
This was the unfortunate fate of one of the most ambitious and unique building projects the world has ever seen.
Yet Dubai’s popularity as a hotspot for tourism didn’t stop.
To this day it's seen as a top holiday destination for travellers wanting to experience luxury and the glitz and glamour.
The project has lingered in the background of developer’s minds and major projects are back underway in the UAE’s capital.
As of the 2008 financial crisis only one island was complete and open to tourists – Lebanon Island.
This remained the only success to come out of the World Island project until December 2021 when Anantara World Islands Resort opened its doors on the South American section of the islands.
The Heart of Europe project is the next big idea coming out of Dubai involving the World Islands.
Every island in the Europe group was set to have a series of luxury hotels, private mansions and floating villas either built or planned on them.
The idea is to transport guests to different European destinations using the individual islands and boost the Dubai economy by bringing in tourists.
The developer, Kelindheist Group, wants to bring the European culture to Dubai with copycat cities like Monaco, Nice, Sweden and Germany already complete with restaurants and hotels.
The Heart of Europe website says: “We combine the best of European culture, architecture, and hospitality with the luxury and innovation of the Emirates and the white, sandy beaches of tropical islands.
“The Heart of Europe offers novel experiences, from underwater living to the climate controlled Raining Street.”
The final completion date is set for 2026 and is valued at $5billion.
And 70 per cent of the remaining islands have been sold – leaving room for work to be done on them.
But developers are facing a major hurdle with the artificial islands.
The World Islands project has long been rumoured to be sinking due to the sand it’s based on being eroded away by the sea around it and sinking under the Persian Gulf’s rising water.
The rumour went as far as Penguin Marine, a marine company, going to court against developers Nakheel to try and get the contract cancelled.
Nakheel won the trial but Nasa did provide information that The Palm Jumeirah, another man-made island on the same section of Dubai coast as the World Islands, was slowly sinking due to the Persian Gulf.
Anyone wanting to own a slice of the World Islands can also look into private purchase opportunities within the Heart of Europe.
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The Heart of Europe project is still offering investors a chance to purchase either a home on one of the islands developed.
The plans include luxury villas and mansions or a highly exclusive and lucrative selection of completely private islands that are on the border of the European projects.
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