The first stage of Dubai’s grandiose Heart of Europe megaproject is nearing completion.
The full boldness of the $5 billion megaresort being built off the coast of Dubai hits home as the shuttle boat arrives. The Heart of Europe is only one segment of The World, a massive collection of man-made islands approximately in the style of an atlas, but when completed, it will be the lavish centerpiece. In the midst of a pandemic, it may yet prove to be a work of brilliance in its efforts to recreate Europe for luxury holidaymakers unable to make the journey. In the midst of a worldwide travel slowdown triggered by Covid, it also marks a significant bet on Dubai’s long-term attraction. The World’s 300 manmade islands pop up out of the Arabian Gulf like inverted golf bunkers after a four-kilo meter boat voyage from the mainland. Since the project’s inception in 2003, the majority of them have sat vacant, with consecutive global financial downturns doing nothing to stimulate developers.
Then the Heart of Europe (HoE) appears in the distance. There are already or soon will be 15 luxury hotels, holiday residences, and millionaire mansions on these water acres. The majority are currently incomplete, awaiting the finishing touches required to fulfil the initial completion dates at the end of 2020. The Heart of Europe is comprised of six themed islands, with visitors able to pick among areas created to resemble Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Venice, the Cote d’Azure, and others. The idea is that once tourists arrive, they will be able to convince themselves that they have been moved from the typically searing Arabian heat to fewer dry locales.
The surrealist of this notion might practically slap you in the face on Sweden’s island. A basement featuring kitchens, a gym, spa and sauna… and a snow room is housed under the island’s massive $21.8 million display residence, one of ten “palaces” beneath rooftops resembling upturned Viking ships. Machines fueled by the same Arabian sunshine that heats the infinity pool upstairs release white flakes on demand against an alpine setting. The gigantic magnitude and untamed yet elegant splendor of the estate is breathtaking.
The boutique hotel-sized six-level houses are surrounded by un-Scandinavian lush vegetation and have an elevator and a private beach. Bentley’s exclusive furnishings include luxurious seats for elaborate dinner parties at a table the length of a limo, a circular bed with ocean views, and a massive marble tub. A domed party area larger than many bars can hold 300 guests, making it suitable for post-pandemic festivities.
They’ll be able to salute their German neighbors, an unthinkable gesture in real life but achievable in the Heart of Europe map. The 32 futuristic beach or lagoon-facing houses on Germany island are inspired by Bauhaus, but more closely resemble a lunar colony. At the time of writing, just one of them remained unsold, with a $7.89 million price tag.
While the concept of artificial islands filled with resorts in a place already home to hundreds of hotels may appear to be an overkill, Kleindienst emphasizes attempts to enhance or conserve the environment. Several aquariums and tanks of the Coral Institute, located in the Portofino resort, showcase a breeding programmed centered on 50 native species, including carpet sharks. The sharks will eventually live around the islands as part of the developer’s “rehabilitation” initiative to “extend the marine ecology and assist rebalance the undersea environment.” Meanwhile, native and migratory birds are finding the immense vegetation that has been added to the environment.