Nakheel chief hopes to attract partners for two more Deira Islands resorts this year

Nakheel is in talks with two more potential joint venture partners for resort hotels at its Deira Islands project, which will conclude “hopefully this year”, the chairman of the Dubai developer said on Sunday.

Nakheel has retained the larger plots along a six-kilometre stretch of beach linking the first two islands under development at the site for resorts, but has been leasing 94 smaller plots of between 50,000 and 670,000 square feet to hotel and serviced apartment operators at other waterfront locations. Agreements for 35 of these have already been signed.

“All of the resort plots we are trying to keep for Nakheel and have JVs with interested parties,” Ali Rashid Lootah said. “We already signed two and we have two more in the pipeline. We have more.”

In total, it is planning to build five resort hotels at Deira Islands.

Mr Lootah also said that the 5,300-unit, Dh1.57 billion night souq being built alongside a promenade facing the existing Deira shoreline will be ready for traders to fit out their units in the first half of 2018, with the project opening to the public by the end of next year.

These sit on a 2km-long, 400 metre-wide site and will be accompanied by 96 cafes and restaurants. The night souq has been fully let and will generate rents of about Dh300 million a year.

“The rate we leased it at was very attractive,” Mr Lootah said. “People know what the rate is in Deira, so people who had a vision – they jumped on it.”

Currently there are close to 3,000 people working on the night souq site, where Unec is main contractor. A further 220 people are working for contractor Van Oord on coastal works, which will be ready by July. Early infrastructure works have already been completed, while second phase works involving utilities will be completed next year on Island A and by 2019 on Island B.

Nakheel said that it has already awarded Dh3bn worth of contracts to date, with more expected soon. Bids to build its Dh4bn Deira Islands Mall need to be submitted by contractors today and a tender inviting contractors to bid for work at its Dh5bn Deira Islands Boulevard site containing 16 residential towers for lease was issued last month.

In total, the four islands at the project will contain over 15.3 square kilometres of land. However, only the two closest to Deira’s corniche are currently under development – the 5.1 sq km Island A and the 3.2 sq km Island B – with a view to them being ready by the end of 2020.

Dredging and reclamation works for Island C – the biggest at over 6.7 sq km and Island D have been carried out, but as yet there is no start date for their development. “It’s a future plan,” Mr Lootah said. “We’re focusing with the first two.”

When eventually complete, Deira Islands will add a further 40km of coastline (21km of which will be beaches) to Dubai’s waterfront. It is expected that 250,000 people will live on the islands, which will be home to 6 million sq ft of Nakheel-developed retail space.

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