Clusters of the man-made islands "The World" off the Dubai coast are sinking, according to reports in a Canadian daily.
"The World" a highly ambitious construction of islands shaped like the countries of the globe, is sinking back into the sea, according to evidence put before a property tribunal, the Ottawa Citizen reported on Friday.
The islands, which are only accessible by boat, have their sands eroding and navigational channels between them are silting up, the British lawyer for a company bringing a case against state-run developer, Nakheel, told judges. ''The islands are gradually falling back into the sea,'' said Richard Wilmot-Smith QC, for Penguin Marine.
According to Nakheel, 70 per cent of The World's 300 islands have been sold, but most of the development plans have fizzled into thin air when the financial crisis rocked the world. Only one of the islands - Greenland - is inhabited, and that is a showpiece owned by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.
The company was part of Dubai World, the state-owned conglomerate that had to be bailed out of debts estimated at $25 billion at the end of 2009.
Nakheel is also behind Dubai's palm-shaped offshore developments.
Several villas in the Palm Jumeirah, the only palm near completion, were given to or bought by footballers, including former England stars David Beckham and Michael Owen, www.watoday.com.au said.
And according to the Ottawa Citizen, it was rumored that Hollywood couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had considered buying Ethiopia in “The World” project.
Investors who bought islands proved either unwilling or unable to finance further work when Dubai's property prices halved.
John O'Dolan, owner of the company that bought Ireland for $38.5 million, commetied suicide, while Safi Qurashi, who bought Britain for $69 million, is in jail in Dubai after being accused of bouncing cheques, watoday.com.au said.
Penguin Marine, which bought the rights to provide boat travel to the islands, is currently trying to get out of a contract that involves paying an annual fee of around $1.6 million to Nakheel.