The downfall of Dubai has begun

Dubai islands before the end?

"The World" is a symbol for the megalomania of the Gulf States - Dubai wanted to create an artificial island world, construction companies piled up gigantic mountains of sand in the sea. But now the prestige project threatens to sink in the floods: There is no more money for the maintenance of the fairways.

Artificial islands are sinking back into the sea

Every child knows it from building sandcastles in the surf: If you don't dump it again and again, you will soon see nothing of canals, ramparts and castles. In the long run the sea wins. This experience with the second law of thermodynamics is currently also making "The World", the ambitious construction project off the coast of Dubai: 300 artificially raised islands, which, when viewed from an airplane, are roughly the shape of a world map. "The islands are slowly falling back into the sea," explains Richard Wilmot-Smith, lawyer for the logistics company "Penguin Marine". The fairways between the islands have already become impassable due to siltation and erosion.

Real estate prices have fallen by up to 60 percent

"The world is going down," headlined the Daily Telegraph, and a debate about the "state of the world" has erupted in the local press. Not the Maldives or Tuvalu would be the first to disappear from the map, but "North America" ​​and "China", the art continents in the Persian Gulf. Whereby climate change is not responsible for the sinking of the archipelago, but the cooling of the real estate market in the Emirates: Prices in Dubai have fallen by up to 60 percent since 2009. Hardly anyone wants to invest more in costly land reclamation.

"The World" is to be continued later

The construction company Nakheel, developer of the islands, belongs to the conglomerate "Dubai World", whose 25 billion debts brought the whole emirate into crisis. Nakheel has other things to do than take care of the dredging. Nakheel spokesman Graham Lovett denies that "The World" is dead. She is only "in a coma", but will wake up one day: "This is a ten-year project that has slowed down." A court in Dubai called on by the company "Penguin Marine" has followed this position.

Five million dollars wasted

Of course it's about money. "Penguin Marine" has acquired the rights to ship building materials and later supply the islands. The Singapore company pays around one million dollars a year for this. But the hoped-for transport orders did not materialize because most of the construction projects are on hold. Penguin has stopped making payments. The supply port in Port Rashid, which was specially built for "The World", lies fallow. That's five million dollars wasted.

"The World" has seen some setbacks. The owner of "Ireland" committed suicide. The buyer of "Great Britain" has been behind bars in Dubai for seven years for check fraud. And the news of the slow sinking into quicksand sounds like the fulfillment of biblical prophecies: "Everything that is on earth shall perish" (Genesis; 6:17).

"Constant resistance to wind and waves"

Everything goes under - only "Germany" does not. And neither are the party islands "Montecarlo" and "Sweden". Austrian investor Josef Kleindienst bought six islands for $ 840 million. He markets it as "The Heart of Europe", with luxury villas and security. The construction of the first villas should actually start in June. In fact, the piles of sand have so far only been made ready for construction with soil vibrators. Josef Kleindienst considers the talk about the "world" decline to be inappropriate: "If an island is not developed and maintained, then erosion sets in. That has nothing to do with sinking, it is the movement of sand along the island's edges." An island is not a given, but a constant resistance to wind and waves. The spokeswoman for the Kleindienst group confirms, however, that the fairways between the continents of Nakheel are no longer being dredged.

"Montecarlo" was to become the first island for adults only, with bars, bikini beaches and night clubs. The plan was to inaugurate the island on December 31st with a spectacular New Year's Eve party, and 800 "celebrities" had already been booked. But the party fell through, "due to circumstances over which we have no control," said Kleindienst. So far not a single building has been built. Half as wild: New Year's Eve always comes back, as reliably as floods and financial market crises.