The home property markets may have entered uncertain waters with the emergence of a worldwide financial crisis, but that is not stopping developers from launching multibillion-dirham building projects in Dubai. The latest project is The Atrium, a Dh6 billion (US$1.6bn) residential building planned for the Madinat al Arab waterfront area overlooking Palm Jebel Ali, a man-made island that is host to the new Atlantis Hotel and Trump International Hotel and Tower. The design shows two sleek, glass towers that rise and fuse midway.
"It symbolises the human body," said Soheil Abedian, the founder and managing director of Sunland, a predominantly Australian developer that is making inroads in the GCC. "It has two legs gradually going up to the crown of the building. It is really sculpted on every level." The project will be unveiled at Cityscape Dubai on Oct 6, an event that is likely to see several other major launches, including the master plan for Meraas's Jumeirah Garden City. That project will have a giant tower at its centre, with one of the three options under consideration being three times taller than Burj Dubai, the world's tallest building.
Mr Abedian said the economic environment of the UAE "was not immune" to the worldwide financial turmoil, but the country would retain its status as a major hub and economic centre for the region. "It might be slowing down, I am not arguing against that, but fundamentally this place cannot be categorised as the same as the rest of the world," he said. "That's why I feel safe to announce our crown development here."
As to finance, Mr Abedian said he would use his company's cash reserves and longstanding relationships with banks in Australia to get the project off the ground. The land will be handed over in November and construction is planned to start in July, with completion set for 2013. The Atrium, at 278 metres high, will be one of the tallest towers on Dubai's waterfront. The 68-storey building would rise out of a 21,800-square-metre park, giving it a more "serene" feel, Mr Abedian said. A parking garage will be located underground to minimise congestion around the tower.
The building will house about 1,000 apartments, including a full-floor penthouse at the top with its own swimming pool. Prices will start at Dh3,000 per square foot. Residents will also have access to communal pools, a gym with a golf simulator, spa, library and a beach. The building was designed by the architecture firm Pickard Chilton. Sunland has two other projects in the pipeline in Culture Village, the Palazzo Versace Dubai and the D1 Tower, as well as a resort-style residential community in Umm al Qaiwain named White Bay. The projects are both the product of a joint venture with Emirates International Holding called Emirates Sunland.
Mr Abedian said The Atrium would be the company's first 100 per cent-owned project in Dubai. Sunland was also looking to announce projects in Abu Dhabi and other GCC countries, he said. "This is a major focus for us, this region," Mr Abedian said. "The economies here are powered by an engine room, natural resources. People are making a misunderstanding about the region as a whole. Dubai is a hub, its airport will be larger than London's. It's here to stay."
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