x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 November 2017

Heart of Europe development at The World Islands off Dubai coast takes major step forward

Plans to develop a group of islands at The World islands off Dubai’s coastline have taken a major step forward after developer Kleindienst Group appointed main contractors to build its Heart of Europe project.

A joint venture between Dubai-based JK Bauen and Chinese contracting companies Wuchang Ship Building Industry Group and Sino Great Wall International Engineering will be carrying out projects worth Dh4.8 billion to develop facilities on the six offshore islands that make up the Heart of Europe.

JK Bauen is a construction company owned by Mr Kleindienst. It has been carrying out work at The Heart of Europe on its Sweden Island since recommencing work on the project two years ago, and will be responsible for much of the preparation works such as the shaping and compaction works of the island, plus logistics.

Wuchang and Sino Great Wall will be responsible for the assembly and fit-out of most of the buildings, including the 14 hotel resorts proposed and around 2,000 villas.

Mr Kleindienst said that that the signing of a letter of agreement between the contractors has allowed for an immediate start for work on the Main Europe island featuring most of the hotels, the German island and St Petersburg island, with a view to the entire project completing before Dubai’s Expo 2020 gets underway.

He said that there had been “a long discussion in the company about how – and with whom – to build this project”.

Discussions took place “with many of the building giants” in Dubai, which would have involved the creation of four or five different contract packages and contractors. At the same time, it held talks with potential joint venture partners.

A deal with Wuchang, which is the majority joint venture partner, meant that it could proceed with just one joint venture partner, which he explained was better than having five firms trying to work on a relatively small site of six million square feet.

He said that Wuchang and Sino Great Wall are both “heavyweights” in China who have partnered on more than 100 five-star hotel projects, including one in the under-construction Greenland Centre — a 636m-high skyscraper in Wuhan.

“I have been there to visit the factories, to visit their projects to understand their method and quality of work. I was amazed. That’s not always the case when you visit a contractor,” said Mr Kleindienst.”

The World is a group of 300 artificial islands created from reclaimed sand some 4km off Dubai’s coast. The islands were built and sold by master developer Nakheel and sold to investors before the global financial crisis, but only two have been built on, and one of these is a private island.

Many of those that bought islands had complained about the lack of access to them. A number of disputes arose between Nakheel and sub-developers were filed at the Dubai World Tribunal, but in May 2013 Nakheel and Kleindienst announced that they had settled their case, with Kleindienst agreeing to pay Dh622m it owed to Nakheel-owned company The World so it could move its project forwards.

Mr Kleindienst’s firm had first invested in the project in 2007, and he said that their construction has been “a never-ending chain of resolving issues”.

For instance, it had initially been unable to gain approval from Dubai Civil Defence to have manpower on site because there was no practical way for them to respond to emergencies. This has been resolved by Kleidienst having its own emergency response force trained and on permanent deployment. Moreover, most of the construction work has to take place in Dubai, with modules then shipped and installed on the islands.

“For the fit-out, we are using a system we build on land into moulds.”

The first building – a 25,000 sq ft villa with interiors by Bentley Home – could be completed next month, said Mr Kleidienst, although it will be used as a model unit until December next year when it will be refurbished and handed over. The first resort hotel, Honeymoon Island, is also due for completion next year, with the remaining hotels and villas being handed over in phases between 2018-2020.

“I am 100 per cent against soft openings. I want full openings, but you can’t fully open 3,800 rooms. We need to build and open phase-by-phase,” he said.

mfahy@thenational.ae

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