Imagine travelling to Dubai and experiencing a taste of Europe. Just a few kilometres off the coast sits “The World,” 300 man-made islands shaped like the world map. Within The World is nearly complete area dubbed The Heart of Europe, consisting of six artificial islands modelled after European countries.
The Heart of Europe is a $5 billion project geared towards wealthy travellers seeking a replica Germany, Venice, Sweden, Switzerland, St. Petersburg, and more. “The islands are a celebration of the continent’s artistic and cultural treasures, with each one capturing a different facet of Europe’s culture, character and ambiance,” according to the developer.
It sounds like Disney World’s world showcase at Epcot but on a much, much grander scale.
The World, which began construction in 2003, has struggled in recent years. After being built of 34 billion tons of rocks and 320 million cubic meters of sand, it was finally completed in 2008—shortly before the global financial disaster. Until now, development was stalled due to financial uncertainty.
The Heart of Europe is being developed by Kleindienst, reports CNN. The developer believes the World Expo 2020 and projected real estate demand in Dubai will spur interest in The Heart of Europe, which includes 13 hotels and resorts and 4,000 vacation homes—enough to accommodate 16,000 people.
Some intriguing features include climate-controlled streets (rain and snow), underwater bedrooms, an Olympic pool with glass sides designed for watching synchronized swimming, and a nightly “spectacular” with fireworks and pyrotechnics. The developer is also planting ancient Mediterranean trees from Andalusia, Spain, that are between 100 and 1,500 years old.
When complete, Sweden Island will have 10 waterfront palaces with private beaches. Germany Island will have 32 villas, and St. Petersburg Island will feature 78 floating homes known as “Floating Seahorses.”
Eighty-five percent of the units have already been sold, mostly to those from the UAE and Gulf Cooperation Council nations (i.e., Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia). Ten billionaires have purchased the properties on Sweden Island. The villas on Germany Island are also completely sold out.
Chairman Josef Kleindienst told CNN that The Heart of Europe is being promoted as a “staycation” location but is also a destination for tourists from other parts of the world.
Phase two of the project involves “Main Europe,” based on Portofino, Italy, and the Code d’Azur in France. Holiday resorts in this area will be complete later this year and in 2020.
Travellers will be allowed to dive and snorkel on artificial coral reefs or watch sea life from their underwater bedrooms and bathrooms in the Floating Seahorses. The Floating Venice is also expected to include underwater rooms.
Future plans also include chalets on Switzerland Island and nine additional hotels on Main Europe.
While The Heart of Europe is buzzing with construction, nearly the rest of The World is undeveloped. However, there are plans for an eco-friendly resort on Lebanon Island and a couple of resorts in South America.
Kleindienst aims to complete The Heart of Europe by 2020 prior to the World Expo.