"Speculative reports suggesting that The World islands are sinking are wholly inaccurate," reads Nakheel's statement.
"The islands were finished some years ago and there has been no subsidence since. A system known as vibro-compaction was used to increase the load-bearing capacity of the reclaimed land mass. This process causes the soil to vibrate vigorously, minimizing the tiny air gaps between the sand particles and locking the particle corners and edges together, which in turn lead to very deliberate and calculated compaction and settlement. The load-bearing capacity of The World islands is about twice that of mainland Dubai.
"A suggestion also that some of the islands have slipped and spread into each other is also completely incorrect. The islands at the centre of The World were merged purposely to create land for specific developments, and the shape of other islands was changed at the request of owners."
The much-hyped islands were constructed in the Arabian Gulf using 320 million cubic metres of sand and 34 million tonnes of large rocks. Measuring approximately 9 kilometres in width by 7 kilometres in length, the development covers approximately 931 hectares and adds an additional 232 kilometres of beachfront to Dubai’s coastline. While construction of the bodies of the islands is now complete, the NASA photograph department reports that, "Little to no infrastructure development of The World is apparent in this astronaut photograph". The 300 islands range in price from US$20 million – US$50 million and are available by invitation only. Around 50 invitations are sent per year and Nakheel advise around 70 % have been sold so far with owners rumoured to include UK business mogul Richard Branson and hollywood couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
In December 2008 Nakheel announced plans for a new multi-island development to join The World. The Universe is planned as a staged project 'that will evolve to meet future demand', said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman of Nakheel, however there is little demand at present and the plans have not moved forward.
Niki May Young