The developer behind Dubai's Falconcity of Wonders has spent Dh100 million (US$27.2m) on marketing the project - but, as yet, not a single wonder has been completed.
One of the most ambitious projects ever planned in Dubai, the vast 41 million square foot development located off Emirates Road, on the outskirts of the city, was first announced in 2006 and has been displayed at successive property exhibitions ever since, complete with replicas of the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the pyramids of Egypt and a Leaning Tower of Pisa.
But three years after the original proposed completion date, the wonders await to go up. Falconcity said yesterday that it had spent Dh600m on completing infrastructure works that included roads, a 132 kilovolt electricity substation, a community centre and a state-of-the-art sewerage treatment plant.
Falconcity said it had handed over 308 villas in the first phase of the development and was currently in the process of constructing a further 214. It said that in total it had pre-sold 473 of the planned 1,156 villas in the project to investors but that since 2009 it had halted sales because of the global financial crisis.
The company said that delays had been caused by the crisis as well as by hold-ups in getting external infrastructure works finished, which meant the developer had to build vital infrastructure work itself.
On a press tour around the WS Atkins master-planned project, which Falconcity previously estimated would cost a total of $12 billion to build, Salem Al Moosa, the chairman and chief executive of Falconcity, said the developer would restart villa sales at the International Property Show in Dubai next month.
"We exist. We are here. People think that this project is not working. People think that this project doesn't exist. People are using all kinds of rumours against us. We are being faced with a vicious attack from other people, I don't know why," Mr Al Moosa said.
"When we call for contractors they say: 'Oh you don't exist'. I say who told you?
"I think people are scared of Falconcity of Wonders. Falconcity is growing strong. And Falconcity exists and Falconcity has plans. And Falconcity is one day going to be one of the best tourist, entertainment, commercial destinations in the whole world."
When asked where the money was coming from to develop the project, Mr Al Moosa was brisk. "We have the money to develop. Salem Al Moosa has the money."
Mr Al Moosa added: "Whether it will cost $12bn or $15bn I don't know. It may be more, it may be less. I can tell you the middle pyramid is going to cost Dh630m."
When asked when the project would be completed, he would not be drawn into specifics.