x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dubai Taj Mahal and other ancient wonders to cost $12 billion

The planned Falconcity of Wonders project in Dubai, with its Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower, will cost more than US$12 billion to build, its developer said at Cityscape Dubai.

A replica of the facade of Taj Mahal of Agra at Cityscape in Dubai. Jeffrey Biteng / The National
A replica of the facade of Taj Mahal of Agra at Cityscape in Dubai. Jeffrey Biteng / The National

The planned Falconcity of Wonders project in Dubai, with its replica of the Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower, will cost more than US$12 billion (Dh44.07bn) to build, its developer said yesterday at Cityscape Global in Dubai.

One of the most ambitious projects ever planned in Dubai, Falconcity could eventually house 35,000 people, offer reproductions of eight wonders of the world, and include a mall and theme park.

Salem Al Moosa, the chief executive and chairman of Falconcity, said the project would take up to 10 years to build and that he hoped to raise half of the funding from outside investors.

The cost will go beyond $10 billion to $12bn, he said. “I’m delighted if there are investors. I already have four or five, six, investors with me.”

The project has been in the works for the last six years after first being launched in 2006. But Mr Al Moosa said the project had not been on hold. Rather, he said the infrastructure for the site was being put in place over the last few years.

“Our project is not on hold. Our project has been on since 2006 after we launched it,” said Mr Al Moosa. “We have been building the infrastructure. We have spent billions. Building takes time. The infrastructure for such a project takes effort and time.”

Falconcity is planned to hold a replica of the Taj Mahal of Agra, called the Taj Arabia, an Eiffel Tower, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Great Wall of China, the pyramids of Egypt, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the canals of Venice and a copy of Alexandria’s long-lost lighthouse.

Link Global Group, a Indian developer, will be one of the investors in the project and help to build the Taj Arabia, which is planned to be bigger than the original.

“There are projects that are based on feasibility studies and run by good management, and there are projects, speculator projects. In any part of the world, there’s no place for speculators,” said Mr Al Moosa.

“There is supply and demand, but you provide the thing that not everybody is providing, then people will come to you.”
And as Cityscape Global drew to a close yesterday, delegates were looking back on three days that veered from hubristic optimism of a return to the boom years to calls for restraint on speculation and better regulation.

There was a sense that the boom was indeed back, with dozens of huge and glowing scale models advertising new schemes such as Meydan’s Hadaeq and Meydan Tower, Meraas’s vast Beach development on JBR Walk, human models posing in wedding dresses and traditional Cossak outfits and talk of villa prices in some parts of the city returning to pre-crash levels.

Indeed, while Mr Al Moosa was outlining his ambitious vision, Sultan bin Mejren, the director general of the Dubai Land Department, was announcing in the hall next door a new Real Estate Arbitration Centre to deal with the thousands of property disputes currently dealt with by the Land Department as a result of the previous downturn.

“There is an urgent need to establish a centre to settle real-estate disputes in a smooth and fast manner,” said Mr bin Mejren. “Real-estate arbitration is the quickest way to resolve such conflicts in the world.”

Others were just happy to see Dubai’s property market out of the worst.

“This year’s Cityscape has beaten all expectations and has certainly been the busiest show in four years. It is a visual representation of the recent reports and commentary which confirms that the Dubai property market is back in a big way,” said Niall McLoughlin, the senior vice president for Damac Properties. “The Dubai property market is well set and we must welcome this with cautious optimism but not get overly carried away.”

rjones@thenational.ae

lbarnard@thenational.ae