Sol Kerzner, Donald Trump, Andrew Farkas, Tiger Woods, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill: the biggest names in development and entrepreneurship are all currently in the midst of major building projects in Dubai. Over the next few years, the city’s landscape will drastically change, reflecting the growth of the city as a world capital of design, architecture, finance, and culture. In addition to big name developers like Trump, there is big name talent going into the constructions. Tiger Woods, unequivocally the greatest golfer of his generation, is designing his first-ever golf course as well. Spanning business and pleasure, the new construction represents an exciting time for Dubai and the Middle East. The size and scope of these projects seem to be confined by nothing but imagination. The sky is indeed the limit.
Atlantis, The Palm
Sol Kerzner, the king of Paradise Island’s Atlantis Resort, set his sights on Dubai some years ago. In a 2006 interview with this magazine, he discussed what led him to build here. “You have a government that is very interested in bringing in visitors to the city; you have an airline that is the most dynamic airline in the world. Dubai markets itself sensationally. And Dubai, by world standards, is pretty phenomenal,” he said. Kerzner has always had a grand vision. As a young man, he had a successful boxing and wrestling career that instilled in him the sense of tenacity that he consistently brings to his real estate ventures. His properties are not just hotels, rather destinations, complete with the best restaurants, entertainment; they all have a flourish of fantasy brought to life by Kerzner’s dedication. One of his first developments in South Africa had an African theme, including a 62-acre man-made jungle, while the inspiration behind Atlantis was the mythical Lost Continent. In Dubai, the Atlantis is set on a 112.5-acre site that will crown The Palm Jumeirah, one of the region’s ambitious man-made islands. It will feature the region’s largest water park, called Aquaventure, which houses a marine habitat of 65,000 sea animals, 1,539 rooms, and an entertainment village featuring more than 80,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Like its Paradise Island predecessor, Atlantis, The Palm will feature an arsenal of well-known names including Nobu (in his Middle East debut) and Michel Rostang. Also, he has commissioned the work of world renowned artists Dale Chihuly and Albino Gonzalez, so that the property is cutting-edge on every possible level.
“The whole journey has been carefully designed as a sensory and emotional experience,” Kerzner says. “From the first glimpse of the arch, visitors will be delighted by every detail. One of the most striking features has to be the Dig Lobby, called Poseidon’s Court, with its 40-foot wide window into the deep where Poseidon’s throne is located. It is surrounded by water and still sunken in the ocean.”With this latest construction, his influence is reaching a whole new set of clients, and further establishing the Kerzner name as a purveyor of fantasies come to life.
At over 636 meters (and counting—its final height is Dubai’s best kept secret) and 142 stories, Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest tower needs little introduction.What was until this year just a fantasy on paper has now become a stunning reality thanks to the teamwork of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Dubai real estate giant Emaar, Turner construction, and Samsung.“Height numbers in feet and meters don’t mean much to most people, but when I tell them to imagine the John Hancock Building stacked on top of the Sears Tower, I usually get a jaw-dropping response. It’s an approximation, but it gives a real idea of the actual scale of the project. The Burj Dubai won’t be the tallest building in the world by a few meters; it’s going to be well above all the previous records,” says managing partner George Efstathiou.
But this is Dubai, thus the sheer wonder of the height is not nearly the entire Burj Dubai story.The Emirate is creating an entire “downtown” center around the building, which will offer a groundbreaking mall, themed residential developments, hotels and resorts, and offices—think of it as a turbo-charged Manhattan rising up in a matter of years, not decades.
“The collaborative efforts between SOM, Emaar, Samsung, and Turner have brought us to this historic point. Becoming a part of architectural history with the Burj Dubai project is an accomplishment for which the entire team is proud. Together, we’re not only creating a landmark for Dubai, but for the entire world,” adds Efstathiou. When completed, Burj Dubai will have used up 330,000 cubic meters of concrete, 39,000 metric tons of steel, and 22 million man-hours.
The Tiger Woods Dubai
Tiger Woods Dubai is poised to be one of the most exciting projects in the region. From the development firm Tatwee, it can truly be considered a destination unto itself. It is a private residential community with features that are unparalleled anywhere. The 55 million-square-foot project’s upcoming residential structures, infrastructure and utilities, hotel, clubhouse, and the world’s first Tiger Woods-designed golf course are making rapid strides towards the targeted completion timeline of late 2009. The golf course itself is a sight to behold. It is an 18-hole championship course with dramatic elevation changes, lush landscaping, stunning water features, and creative design nuances that are challenging for experienced players, yet still accessible for less seasoned golfers. To effect the unique landscaping, builders excavated land to build six-meter-deep lakes, and imported lush greenery from Thailand and South Africa. A total of 1,184 trees have been planted on site. Some individual trees reach the towering height of 12 meters, making them some of the tallest trees ever to have been imported into Dubai. The Tiger Woods Dubai represents a milestone, not only for Dubai, but also for the world of golf residences and golf resorts of the future. In addition to a professional staff of golf instructors, there is a 139,000-square-foot clubhouse, a high-end destination spa, 22 palaces, 75 mansions, and 100 luxury villas.
Trump International Hotel & Tower, Palm Jumeirah
The Trump International Hotel and Tower, Palm Jumeirah will be the standout property on man-made Palm Jumeirah Island, located off the coast of Dubai. Slated to open in 2011, the property will be the crown jewel of the so-called “Golden Mile” of the Trunk, the part of the palm that contains the island’s living, shopping, and tourism heart. Trump International Hotel & Tower, Palm Jumeirah is located a stone’s throw from all other points of interest, adhering to Trump’s longstanding affinity for being at the center of it all. The design rises an impressive 68 stories out of the water, making it the tallest tower on Palm Jumeirah, and it embraces an innovative open-core design that will surely make it a standout, even among the stellar company that Dubai has to offer. The open-core allows the structure to function like a gateway to the island itself, making it a property that will be on everyone’s radar, even as the skyline becomes more and more dense—its recognizable structure is sure to become an iconic feature of the new Dubai. Also remarkably innovative is the breathtaking sky lobby, suspended high above a park, which leads to 368 hotel residences that manage to outdo themselves with unimpeachable levels of luxury and service. There will also be a number of units designated for office space, which are sure to become among the most coveted business addresses in Dubai.
Island Global Yachting
Andrew Farkas founded Island Global Yachting to deal with a problem he personally kept encountering while sailing his megayacht. He found that marinas were ill-equipped to deal with yachts of the level that he sailed and decided to do something about it, reinvisioning marinas as luxury establishments. He added high-end retailers, tennis courts, condos, and office space, thereby cementing the shift from marina as “parking space” to marina as exclusive community. Then he set his sights on Dubai. Anchor Marina is the first in a series of marinas and yachting lifestyle destinations to be developed in Dubai by IGY on behalf of Nakheel & Istithmar Leisure, and is one of a rare handful of marinas on The Palm Jumeirah. In the coming years, IGY is contracted to design, develop, and manage up to 40,000 berths for Nakheel & Istithmar Leisure. The exclusive project in Dubai tops out as the largest IGY has ever undertaken. In fact, IGY, which enjoys the Government of Dubai as one of its premier shareholders, has an exclusive agreement with Nakheel to design, build, and operate all the marinas in all of the island communities being developed in Dubai. This includes the signature developments of The Palm Islands, the World, and Dubai Waterfront, the largest waterfront development in the world. It is an ideal partnership; Dubai will increasingly draw the world’s great megayachts and IGY will not only offer them harbor but also provide them with a luxury environment suitable for their owners.