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Inside Dubai’s eerie abandoned islands that cost $12,000,000,000 and were built for the mega-rich

Inside Dubai’s eerie abandoned islands that cost $12,000,000,000 and were built for the mega-rich

The World Islands could be seen as a pretty monumental failure.

Dubai has long been a playground for the mega-rich, with some astonishing construction projects all over the city.

These range from the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa (opened in 2010), to a range of other massive malls and developments.

But what about the World Islands?

These were part of Dubai's plans to show that basically anything was possible if you spent enough money on it - completely man-made islands, around two miles off the coast of the city, laid out in a rough approximation of the seven continents.

YouTube channel Top Luxury showcased the islands in real detail back at the end of 2023, and the video has a whole heap of interesting tidbits.

There are 260 islands in total, each big enough to play host to a seriously lavish mansion or home, if anyone actually deigned to build on them.

In fact, there were many ambitious plans for the islands, including dreamed-up luxury hotels, resorts and more to make the island archipelago a haven for the rich.

Instead, though, not much has ever materialized, and the islands still stand there, mostly deserted.

There are a few attractions on the handful of islands that have been built upon, including beach clubs and fine dining, but they're far from self-sufficient.

Diesel generators apparently power most of the buildings there, which means fuel has to be shipped in every single day to keep things running - hardly a sustainable setup.

Plus, reports indicate that the sand shipped in to create the islands has been eroding over time, meaning they might not be as permanent as you'd hope.

SI Imaging Services / Imazins / Getty
SI Imaging Services / Imazins / Getty

Given the project apparently cost a staggering $12 billion, you can understand if it didn't quite live up to expectations.

Dubai's tourist authority still maintains on its website that there's a wave of construction planned on the World Islands, apparently including new residences and mansions, but it's been a while since anything major was built.

Plenty of sources have labelled it a massive failure, too, with Elite Traveller magazine calling it a "sandy ghost town", and Top Luxury labelling the islands one of "The Most Useless Megaprojects in the World".

So, this is another example of a huge project that hasn't really gone anywhere - nearby gulf state Saudi Arabia will be hoping that its huge city The Line doesn't end up going the same way.

Featured Image Credit: NASSER YOUNES / Stringer / KARIM SAHIB / Contributor / Getty