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Drydocks' underwater hotel
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Drydocks' underwater hotel



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Those who have been in the region long enough may remember the Hydropolis Hotel that was being proposed off the coast of Dubai at a cost of USD300-million at the height of the real estate frenzy in the mid-2000s.

It was a dream project of epic proportions and a reflection of Dubai developers' desire to outshine each other with bedazzling plans. It was the time of three Palms, and a cluster of islands in the shape of the world map, so conceiving an underwater hotel was seen as a natural progression to resolving the emirate's lack of sea-facing acreage.

The project, which was sponsored by Dubai Holding, never went past the drawing-board stage, and the artist impressions of stunning amoeba-like structure at the bottom of the sea never came to life.

But the concept has reared its head once again when Drydocks World announced it has tied up with a Swiss firm to build underwater hotels.

"BIG InvestConsult is a representative of the Deep Ocean Technology, the Polish owner behind the unique technology and concept of Water Discus Hotel that envisages an ultimate leisure facility with a structure that is partly above water and the rest underneath - a residential Underwater Discus with an Above Water Discus," said Drydocks in a statement reminiscent of Dubai glory days. "The company holds special exclusivity rights for the customers and facilities located in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries."

A Big InvestCosult subsidiary is under establishment in Abu Dhabi, which is interesting given that its chief interest appears to have come from Dubai.

According to the MoU, Dubai World subsidiaries Drydocks and Maritime World have been appointed as the exclusive main contractor for the construction of the new concept hotels and cities floating in the Middle East.

Drydocks certainly believes that it can transfer its maritime expertise into the largely-uncharted waters of marine tourism and hotel development.

"Our technical capabilities and project management experience have been accumulated over nearly three decades of operations," said Khamis Juma Buamim, Chairman of Drydocks World and Maritime World. "It is indeed extremely satisfying that we are able to break new grounds in implementing highly advanced technology-intensive concepts that would enable us to carry forward our capabilities to the next level."

Drydocks World 's traditional strength, of course, is to provide repair, maintenance and conversion services for ships and boats, along with ship building in Dubai, Singapore and Indonesia.

The company recently filed for court protection in Singapore and Dubai to streamline its USD2.2 billion restructuring deal and force an agreement on holdout creditors.

"The decree allows the tribunal to enforce a restructuring plan if at least 2/3 of creditors approve," said Exotix Limited in a report. " DDW stated on 3 April that it had 87% creditor approval. Monarch Capital won a U.K. judgment in Feb 2012 ordering DDW to repay USD45.5mn, yet judgment was not enforceable in the UAE and new moratorium in Singapore temporarily prevents Monarch from taking action against DDW ."

On April 5, DDW said that an overwhelming majority of its lenders formally support its proposals to implement its restructuring. The company has USD318 million in cash and does not face any immediate liquidity issues, but it will be interesting to see reactions to its new venture.

Even though the project will reportedly be funded by BIG InvestConsult, it could tie up Drydock resources in a project that looks exciting on paper, but can be problematic as Nakheel found it during its Palm-building experience.

"Water Discus Hotel project opens many new fields of development for hotel and tourism sector, housing and city sector in the coastal off-shore areas, as well as new opportunities for ecology support by creation of new underwater ecosystems and activities on underwater world protection," said Bogdan Gutkowski, President of Big Invest Group.

"We expect to co-operate efficiently with Drydocks World , being an expert in high technology steel constructions. Additionally we would like to create here in the UAE the international environmental program and center of the Underwater World Protection - with Water Discus Hotel as a laboratory tool for oceans and seas environment protection and research."

MARINER'S FANTASY
The project itself seems to be a mariner's fantasy. According to the BigInvest website, the underwater portion of the project could typically feature:
- An underwater hotel (approximately 500 square metres) with 21 rooms

- An underwater diving centre

- Air lock under dome-shaped cover in the middle of diving centre

- Decompression chamber

- Individual diving equipment

- Diving trips with three-person vehicles

- Huge windows in each room

- Ensured privacy - curtains with different transparency

The above water portion is set to feature:

- Usable area 1.500 square meters

- Leisure and extreme marine experience

- Spa

- Swimming pool

- Exotic garden

- Monitors for remotely operated underwater vehicles with cameras

In addition, a Water Adventure Planet is planned featuring diving training in a four-metre deep diving pool, "imitating caves and wrecks."

Dubai has had a mixed record in developing major projects. While it managed to create at least one functioning island shaped in the Palm, the second remains a work in progress and the outlines of the third is barely visible from Google Earth. In addition, while the Hydropolis project was scrapped, Dubai developers have successfully managed to build a mall with an indoor ski slope and the world's tallest tower.

But it's also almost important to remember that some of these high-flying projects brought Dubai's real estate industry to its knees during the global financial crisis - it still suffers from its after-effects.

It will be a real achievement if Drydocks World pulls of a stunning construction feat, but it may want to take a deep breath before diving headlong into the project.

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http://www.zawya.com/story/Drydocks_underwater_hotel-ZAWYA20120503025812/



-- Edited by admin on Saturday 8th of March 2014 10:03:36 PM

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