Dubai has been adding a new skyscraper, a new island, a new waterfront destination, a new museum as its insatiable development drive continues unabated. As His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said recently: “Every day, we add a new brick in building the most beautiful city in the world.”
One such development that the city built sand by sand off its coast is an archipelago designed to resemble the world map. Covering over 230km of shoreline, The World has a total of 260 islands grouped under seven sets that represent different continents, according to Visit Dubai. Seen below is a file photo that shows a bird’s-eye view of the project (right), along with the Palm Jumeirah:
A 15- to 30-minute boat ride into the sunset takes visitors to the islands that are currently open: Lebanon, Anantara (Argentina), and Heart of Europe. In the first of a three-part series, we set sail for Lebanon.
Dubai skyline in all its glory
The Island was the first destination in The World to open to the public way back in 2011.
“This manmade island is about 15 minutes out into the Arabian Gulf and open seven days a week,” said Abu Dhabi-based businessman Raman Ravi, who owns the island. “It is the only spot isolated enough to get a 180-degree view of the city’s skyline.”
The island is about 6km off the Dubai coast.
“It operates as a beach club and is suitable for private events, weddings, parties, day visits, etc. We can accommodate 500 people for day access, but the island spans 40,000sqm and can actually accommodate more than 2,000 people,” said Raman.
The island is home to a restaurant, white sandy stretches of beaches, swimming pools and chalets. It has two beachfronts, including one that offers a full view of the famed Dubai skyline.
Watersports, like kayaking, and social beach sports, like volleyball, are on offer.
Private island experience for up to Dh50,000
According to Raman, the island’s most popular offering is the property being rented out exclusively for private events and parties. “Costs vary from Dh35,000 to Dh50,000, depending on the day of use.”
The island also offers a day pass for Dh199. “This includes boat transportation, entry, island access like beaches, volleyball court, sunbed, umbrella usage, etc.”
Unlike hotels and resorts on the mainland, The Island offers total privacy, said Raman.
Water, diesel shipped from mainland
The island is not connected to the utility network of Dubai. About 10,000 gallons of diesel is shipped to the destination every month to power its generators.
“We bring 20,000 gallons of water every week to store in our five huge tanks. Sewage is shipped out every two months, while garbage is taken away daily in our boats,” Raman explained.
Buying an island
According to its owner, he had no plans of buying an island. “I had bought a villa on the Palm Jumeirah, when my agent told me that the island was available for sale. He insisted that I go check it out. I discussed it with my wife and we decided to visit it.”
As soon as they landed on the island, they “fell in love”.
“I started planning a whole new hospitality concept in my head. Before I knew it, I bought the place and started building my beach club.”
According to the property’s owner, daily maintenance is not required.
“Water levels are monitored … During summer, high tide will be around 1.5 metres, while in the winter, it is about 2.5 metres.”
Since the walkable beaches go out to the ocean, the property has lifeguards to ensure safety.
The island has about 25 people employed. About two of them stay behind on the property each night, while the rest return to the mainland after work.
How to get there
Visitors are transported to The Island in three boats that have a seating capacity of over 50. The boats depart from Jumeirah One Fishing Harbour every hour from 11am.
“Guests can come via sea planes, too. But we do not have a helipad,” said Raman.
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