The islands were intended to be
developed with tailor-made hotel complexes and luxury villas, and sold to
millionaires. They are off the coast of Dubai and accessible by yacht or
Now their sands are eroding and the navigational channels between them are
silting up, the British lawyer for a company bringing a case against the
state-run developer, Nakheel, has told judges.
"The islands are gradually falling back into the sea," Richard Wilmot-Smith
QC, for Penguin Marine, said. The evidence showed "erosion and deterioration
of The World islands", he added.
With all but one of the islands still uninhabited ? Greenland ? and that one
a showpiece owned by the ruler of Dubai, most of the development plans have
been brought to a crashing halt by the financial crisis.
Nakheel, the developer, was part of Dubai World, the state-owned
conglomerate that had to be bailed out of debts put at around $25 billion at
the end of 2009. The Dubai World Tribunal was set up to hear cases arising
out of the restructuring and separation of the companies involved.
The low-lying islands represent a vague shape out to sea when viewed from
Dubai's beaches, but are visible by satellite or from the top of the city's
Burg Khalifa, the world's tallest building, which opened to the public last
According to the company, 70 per cent of the World's 300 islands have been
sold. Nakheel is also behind Dubai's famous Palm-shaped offshore
developments. Villas in the only one near completion, Palm Jumeirah, were
given to or bought by footballers including David Beckham and Michael Owen.