Wakil Ahmed is on top of the world.
With good reason. His dream project – the Royal Island Beach Club, The World, on Dubai’s The World islands – finally opens to the public later this month.
An Indian businessman, Ahmed has been in electronics trading business for the past 25 years. Although developing real estate was a far-fetched thought at one stage, he changed his mind when he got the opportunity to buy an island on Dubai’s The World project in 2004.
Having lived in Dubai for 35 years, he says he truly believes in Dubai and the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
“I am of the firm belief that Dubai is a tourist destination and will remain so forever. Despite the global economic crisis, I was certain that The World project would go on and Dubai would deliver on its promise.”
Although the world media screamed about The World “sinking”, Ahmed held on to his nerves. Despite people repeatedly asking him why he was going ahead with his investment during the global slowdown in 2008-2009, Ahmed says he remained confident then – as he is now – of the success of his venture.
In fact, it was in 2008 that Ahmed paid the full Dh32 million for the island and secured his title deed. Up until now, he has invested close to Dh38 million to build the first club project on the island.
“People close to me kept asking me ‘why are you investing in the project?’ and that ‘you should stop’. But I was confident that once I complete my project, it will work.”
Eight years after setting his sights on the island – situated at the heart of The World Islands – Ahmed’s dream project is ready to welcome its first guests.
The club has eight private chalets, an International cuisine restaurant, a swimming pool and two beach areas. Initially, no overnight staying will be allowed on the island, but Ahmed says they are looking at introducing the option at a later stage.
Quizzed on why he chose the Lebanon Island for his project, he says: “It is located at the centre of The World. Since I was the first one to buy, I decided to by this island, which was right in middle of the project.
“Even in an exclusive project such as The World, it is location, location and location that sells,” he adds.
Asked how much does it cost to rent the island, Ahmed says that they do not have a standard price and it varies on client requirements.
“The cost totally depends on the clients desire… we can offer anything in the range of Dh500 to Dh5,000 per head. We can also offer the island for private functions or people if they want to hire it for a day or two.”
In order to ferry tourists to the club, Royal Island Beach Club has already signed a memorandum of understanding with the Roads & Transport Authority.
“We are finalizing pick-up points for ferrying our tourists… we expect 100 to 200 people to visit our club every day,” he reckons.
The World development will cover approximately 931 hectares and add an additional 232km of beachfront to Dubai’s coastline. There will be 300 islands reclaimed from the sea in the shape of the world map. Yachts will be the primary mode of transportation, giving both residents and visitors a water-oriented travel experience across the waters of the Gulf.
The World’s sales process is as exclusive as the development itself – visiting the islands is by invitation only, according to the company’s website. The islands range in price from $20 million (Dh73.4m) to $50m.
The development comprises five types of island community: Estate Islands, Mid Density, High Density, Commercial and Transportation, and Resort Islands, The World will host a collection of villas, apartments, resorts, restaurants and retail outlets set amid a range of beaches, boating and other leisure opportunities, the website adds.