The developers behind a floating island concept mooted as a solution for buyers on Dubai’s The World project said the design has already attracted interest from Qatari and Russian buyers.
Dubai-based firms Palmerstone and Donald Starkey Designs, the joint venture behind the floating ‘Ome concept, told Arabian Business they also plan to target the Abu Dhabi market.
“We had one expression of interest from a Russian gentleman, so we are waiting to follow up on that one. This morning someone from Qatar approached about putting one on the Pearl there,” said Graham Henderson, owner of Palmerstone and a designer on the project.
The 'Ome, a floating home on a monocoque type structure, is designed to be manoeuvered between Dubai's coast and The World islands. The two-deck design features five bedrooms, open-plan living areas and a central 10m-diameter seawater pool.
Henderson, formerly a senior development manager on Nakheel’s Palm Jumeirah, said the design could aid buyers on troubled island project The World by offering an infrastructure solution without the need to break ground.
Construction on the offshore plots ground to a virtual standstill in the wake of the economic downturn, which saw real estate prices in Dubai fall more than 60 percent from their peak. Many buyers have failed to begin development on their islands.
“I was intimately involved in [The World’s] first villa so I know what the problems are,” Henderson said. “I know how much time was lost shipping material over and back and getting people to the island and the real issues with water, power and generators.”
The joint venture hopes to use the facilities at Dubai Maritime City to build the ‘Omes and then float them into The World with a tug.
“We will hopefully be ready to start in around six months when we complete all the engineering studies and it is 18 to 22 months to build one,” Henderson said, adding the design is suitable for most coastal locations.
The ‘Ome, which launched at the Monaco Yacht Show in September, is designed to be self-sustainable, with power, water and waste management included in the structure.
The floating home also includes photovoltaic cells on its roof, designed to allow the property to be completely self-powered.
Henderson said the Abu Dhabi market offers strong prospects for the design, particularly within environmentally-sensitive islands such as the wildlife reserve of Sir Bani Yas.
“I am sure when TDIC [Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development & Investment Company] sees the potential that we can float them in and not ruin the delicate ecology people will be encouraged,” he said. “So there is potential.”