It would be superfluous to go on about the conceptual and social vacuity of “The World” in Dubai. That much has become the standard, even knee-jerk critique of the project – expounded by notions such as the ideological perils of “Google Earth Urbanism” and the woeful exploitation of migrant workers – of which matters little to the absurdly wealthy patrons who will shore up on one (or two!) of the project’s three hundred man-made archipelagos. The large, vaguely urban scheme, which spans an area of 6 by 9 kilometers, was debuted nearly 10 years ago, yet has been stalled periodically ever since due in part to the global recession. Despite the setbacks, the first attraction to be completed, the World Island Beach Club on “Lebanon Island,” is set to open in a matter of weeks. No, the following images were not photoshopped.
The World, which lies some 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) off the coast of Dubai, was conceived as “today’s great development epic,” an unfathomably stupid project politically willed into existence to enable the international elite to “chart their own course and make the world their own.” With no legible (or even virtual) urban agenda or intent aside from dispelling the atrophied spirits of the rich, the hundreds of little islands add up to a strangely naive likeness approximating the map of the world. And that’s it.
At the beginning of last year, Penguine Marine, a company contracted to provide ferrying services to and from the shore, alleged that the islands were sinking into the shallow sea – a claim that the Nakheel Properties Group, the property’s developer, has since discredited, but one which threatened to completely derail the venture. That particular doom has been averted, says Nakheel, which promises that the entirety of the master plan will be realized. When it is, Lebanon Island will be joined by satellite “continents” which will accommodate all manner of ghastly luxury retreats, from private homes and estates to dream resorts.
At present, nearly 70% of the islands have been sold, reports The National, though these have remained undeveloped due to the delay and lack of infrastructural necessities. Because Nakheel has forbidden any plumbing and electrical systems that would spoil the blue-green waters, alternatives have had to been sought out. Treated water will be provided from the mainland by boat, while electricity will be sourced from generators. Arrangements such as these have proved unappealing to developers and clientele. Yet Nakheel remains undeterred, and it hopes the newest resort will encourage developers. Whether or not “The World” is completed or succumbs to the pressures of economic apocalypse remains to be seen. If it does succeed, however, it will surely embolden and advance current plans for “The Universe,” an ostensibly infinite array of private islands in the Gulf that will form the world’s galaxy’s ultimate destination for luxury travel. Sadly, that isn’t a joke.