Wahid Attalla, Director of Commercial & Operations, Nakheel, gives BTN an exclusive interview on The Palm; one of the most exciting and talked about initiatives underway in the Middle East, which is soon expected to be a key draw card for tourists to Dubai.BTN: Why does Dubai need The Palm?
WA: The Palm involves the creation of two entirely man made islands called The Palm, Jumeirah and The Palm, Jebel Ali. Never before has such a project been imagined, let alone undertaken.
The Palm project represents a unique new concept of leisure, living and tourism offering extraordinary experiences to residents and visitors alike. It is an expansion of Dubai’s drive to enhance its position as a premier international tourist destination and as an ideal international residential option.
BTN: Who developed The Palm concept?
WA: The vision for The Palm was provided by His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Defence Minister.
The concept of the palm tree shaped islands was inspired by Dubai’s own heritage, with the palm tree and water long considered the most important sources of food, shelter and trade for Dubai.
Arab Eclectic will be the signature architecture style on The Palm. This style will ensure that the islands are entrenched in the history and indigenous styles of Dubai and the Arab world. The shoreline apartments and many of the townhomes on The Palm, Jumeirah and the sea village on The Palm, Jebel Ali will feature this theme.
Several architectural styles for the residential villas have also been designed ranging from traditional Arabian to modern European, Mediterranean, and Oriental all reflecting the eclectic tastes of the people that will live on The Palm.
BTN: What will be the implications of the project for Dubai?
WA: The Palm is expected to play a key role in raising awareness of Dubai on a worldwide level as an ideal residential option, and to have an overall positive impact on the real estate industry in Dubai. The wide variety of residential opportunities on offer will only strengthen the city’s real estate offering.
BTN: What kind of international attention have you seen?
WA: There has been a great deal of international attention from buyers for commercial and private purposes, government leaders, and media.
Just last year, David Beckham, along with 10 other England footballers, 1 physio and 1 coach, bought residential villas on The Palm, Jumeirah.
In addition, Nakheel LLC and Kerzner International Limited (NYSE: KZL) formed a joint venture to develop Atlantis, The Palm, which will ultimately include a 2,000-room resort and water theme park. Atlantis, The Palm will be located at the center of The Palm, Jumeirah. The first phase of Atlantis, The Palm is an estimated $650 million development project that is expected to include a 1,000-room hotel and water theme park situated on 1.5 miles of beachfront.
Nakheel also has international government officials and diginitaries showing unrivaled interest in Nakheel’s unique and iconic projects. When visiting Dubai, international officials make special visits to the Nakheel Sales Centre to witness the grand scope of the various projects, such as The Palm and The World. We have had visitors from all over the globe, from the Middle East, Asia, Europe and North and South America.
BTN: What is the main selling point of the residencies?
WA: Residents on The Palm will have the benefits of ocean views, private beaches, modern infrastructure, hi-tech links, stunning scenery and privacy. They will also have easy access to cinemas, restaurants, exclusive retails outlets, health clubs and leisure facilities.
BTN: How much did the the apartments, Water Homes and villas sell for?
WA: All the villas and townhomes on The Palm, Jumeirah have been sold. The apartments, which went on sale in January 2003 are also sold out.
In April of 2003, the first residential properties on The Palm, Jebel Ali were released for sale, this comprised of a combination of Signature Series Villas, Canal Cove Town Homes and Gardens Homes. One month later in May the first phase of Water Homes were released for sale, which are now sold out. Due to the tremendous response to the Water Homes, Nakheel launched a second phase of Water Homes during May 2004 at the Arabian Travel Market, which are now for sale. In addition, all of the villas on The Palm, Jebel Ali have been sold.
In order to give a better idea of owning a home on The Palm, Jebel Alie, the following is a list of the prices:
Canal Cove Townhomes, 3brm, 3,800 sq ft, Dhs 1,870,000
Canal Cove Townhomes, 4brm, 4,100 sq ft, Dhs 2,090,000
Garden Homes, 4 brm, 6,500 sq ft, (built up area 5,000sq ft), Dhs 2,860,000
Villa, 5/7 brm, 13,000 sq ft, (built up area 7,000sq ft), Dhs 5,115,000
Water Homes, 4brm, built up area, 3875sq ft, Dhs 2,000,000
BTN: How successful was the first project?
WA: Interest in The Palm has been very strong and has attracted a wide variety of local and international investors. These investors include hoteliers and hotel chains, tour operators, entertainment cartels and moguls, property buyers, homeowners, retail and private investors.
In addition, The Palm, Jumeirah has been extremely successful both with the construction and with the buying. Despite the challenging deadline which developers of The Palm have set for its completion, construction on the project is right on schedule. As well, The Palm, Jumeirah has had a fantastic response to property sales, whereby all plots and property have been sold in less than one year.
BTN: What phase are you up to with the development?
There are three main stages to the construction process on both Palm islands, these being Reclamation, Infrastructure Construction and Buildings Construction.
Phase 1 - Reclamation involves sand transfer and rock placement to create the land foundations. During this period, an estimated 100 million cubic metres of sand and rock from the UAE will be put in place on each island.
The Reclamation on The Palm, Jumeirah is already completed and now undergoing Infrastructure and Buildings Construction. Examples of this are that the construction of the bridge from the mainland to The Palm, Jumeirah is currently under construction, as well as the residential villas on Frond E.
The Palm, Jebel Ali is currently in the Reclamation phase.
Phase 2 - Infrastructure Construction will include amongst others the construction of: Local Bridges, Flyovers etc; Waste Water Collection System; Storm Water Drainage System; Irrigation System; Domestic Water Supply Network; Piped Gas System; Telecommunications System; Sanitary Sewage System; Electrical Supply System; Chilled Water System; Road and Streets; Marinas and Port Facilities; Fire Fighting System; Solid Waste Collection System; Services Access to crescent island; Infrastructure Transportation and Landscape and Water Features.
Phase 3 - Buildings construction will include the construction of the residential, tourism and commercial buildings.
When is the estimated completion date for the project?
The Palm, Jumeirah - early 2006
The Palm, Jebel Ali - 2008
BTN: Who will be your main clientele?
WA: The Palm islands will offer leisure and retail facilities that will cater to the needs of residents and visitors alike. We have attracted buyers worldwide for this project, which includes UAE nationals, as well as expatriates. Another unique selling point to expatriates is that they are allowed to buy freehold on The Palm, Jumeirah and The Palm, Jebel Ali, entitling them to full ownership of their property.
Has the shopping been built especially for the project or were the shops pre-existing? Other than shops, what facilities are close to the development?
WA: Both of The Palms will offer an incredibly wide range of services and opportunities such as residence, shopping, dining, hotels, theme parks and marine sports, which will be located on the islands. The leisure and retail facilities at each Palm will cater to the needs of residents and visitors alike. These include a shopping complex, health spas, restaurants and cinemas, dive sites, a golf course offering unique challenges along with the region’s first water theme park featuring killer whales and dolphins.
BTN: What are the environmental consequences of The Palm?
WA: As with any other project in Dubai, this project was subject to meticulous study and planning. The marine environmental factors involved had to be 100% secure before the go-ahead was given. The safety and preservation of marine life are being addressed with the greatest care and concern and is of paramount importance. Marine Biologists are one of many specialist consultants present during the construction of the islands.
We expect the reclamation of the islands will enhance the local wildlife population, including tropical fish. Generally, construction creates a new habitat that attracts many species of fish and birds - this has been witnessed already in the construction carried out to date on the crescent breakwater of The Palm, Jumeirah.
Amongst numerous tasks, scientists at the ICBA are researching the feasibility of growing flowers shrubs and trees on The Palm that will survive on seawater alone, hence saving enormous quantities of Dubai’s valuable fresh water resources. The cutting edge project will not only enhance the beauty of the extraordinary The Palm, but also provide massive environmental benefits.