The World islands have garnered curiosity ever since the development was unveiled in 2003.
The man-made cluster of 300 islands in a formation that loosely resembles the world map is situated in the Arabian Gulf, 21km East by Northeast of Palm Jumeirah and 4km off the shore of Jumeirah. The islands are primarily a luxury real estate venture and have been surrounded by much speculation, but now, a new tour by Dubai Tourism & Travel Services aims to give curious visitors a chance to see The World from Dubai.
Stefan Menzel, general manager of Dubai Tourism & Travel Services, feels that its new tour offers a unique experience. ‘We get enquiries every day,’ he says. ‘I think the Germany tours give people the opportunity to set foot on The World islands, to experience a particular theme.Lebanon island is a beach club, whereas with Germany, we’ve created an identity.’
The World islands are private, and until now, only Lebanon island has been accessible to the public. Germany island is owned by Kleindienst Group, an Austrian real estate and property developer, which is developing the island as part of its wider ‘Heart of Europe’ project. Stefan saw an opportunity for tourists to experience Germany island before the multi-million-dollar construction of villas and resorts gets underway. ‘The project should be finished by 2017, and once the real estate is completed the public won’t be able to go onto the island. In the future, it will be a real VIP zone. So now, it’s an emotional experience – to be able to put your foot on that exclusive piece of land and get an idea of what’s actually happening.’
The tour sets sail from Dubai International Marine Club, Al Sufouh Road, and guests board a luxury Heart of Europe yacht, with a capacity for up to 50 passengers. On the day we visited, our small group were met at the harbour and taken aboard. The yacht is very comfortable and the tour takes you past the Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach Hotel before you start to see the small islands appear on the horizon. When we pulled up next to the jetty we were greeted by a welcome sign that read ‘Willkommen in Deutschland’ and were each given a souvenir postcard stamped with a German seal.
The waters around the island are still and there is a serene quality to being on this undeveloped land, away from it all, even though you can still just about make out the outline of the Burj Khalifa in the distance. Another board on the island shows us how it will look when built up with villas and hotels, and it makes us glad to have had the opportunity to visit before it becomes a building site.
In the middle of the island is a curtained cabana, which offers some much-welcomed shade, and dotted around the island are 1,000-year-old olive trees to give it a touch of nature.
The morning we visited was very warm, so after around 15 minutes, after taking numerous photos and selfies, we headed back to the boat to make our return journey. The new tour costs Dhs475 per person, which in our opinion is quite pricey, especially for those planning a family trip. Stefan insists, however, that the two-hour tour is value for money. ‘If you think about it, we have another tour of Palm Jumeirah, and that’s one hour and costs Dhs275. If you take a Yellow Boat 80-minute tour it costs Dhs285 and if you doubled those, tourists would pay more than Dhs500. We’ve priced it at less than double, plus it’s a luxury yacht, and once you get there, it’s quite a unique feeling.’
But there isn’t much to do on the island once the novelty of taking photos wears off. Menzel counters that the tour is in its early stages and there are plans to provide more entertainment – both corporate and private – as well as funtions and events, in the near future. Watch this space…
World Island Tour Dhs475 per person (including light refreshments and soft drinks). Daily departing from Dubai International Marine Club, Al Sufouh Road at 10am and 4pm. Call in advance to book. www.dubai-travel.ae (04 336 7727).
Two more World Island tours
Every Friday until the end of May guests can enjoy a boat trip to Lebanon Island with a full barbecue brunch, Djs and sports activities.
Dhs450. Dhs4,200 for a six-person beachfront cabana. Fri 2pm-6pm. www.platintumlist.com (050 818 0496).
Seawings – The World Journey
See The World islands from the sky in a thrilling new seaplane tour. Take off from The World or Dubai Creek and marvel at the aerial views.
Dhs1,895. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.seawings.ae.