ALBAWABA - Canadian entrepreneur Michael Henderson, co-founder of Canadian resort company "Moon World Resorts," has an ambitious dream to construct a mesmerizing model of the moon soaring 274 meters above a 30-meter building in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Dubai, already a thriving real estate market fueled by wealthy individuals seeking refuge from their home country's restrictions during the pandemic and Russians searching for a safe haven amidst the ongoing conflict with Ukraine, could soon witness the realization of the proposed "Moon Dubai" project, with an estimated cost of five billion dollars.
Despite past ups and downs in the real estate industry, Henderson and other visionaries believe that this project, funded by "Moon World Resorts Inc.," could be within reach. They are optimistic about its potential success.
Henderson confidently declares, "We have the world's most recognizable brand," referring to the moon itself as their iconic trademark. He adds, "Eight billion people know our brand, and we haven't even begun." The project encompasses a tourist resort inside a spherical structure, a 4,000-room hotel, a bustling plaza accommodating ten thousand people, and a captivating "moon colony" that will provide visitors with an immersive lunar experience.
The moon replica will be situated on a circular base, resembling an illuminated pedestal, casting its ethereal glow during the night.
Henderson recently presented the project at the Arab Travel and Tourism Summit in Dubai, showcasing captivating artistic renditions of "Moon Dubai" and its strategic location in relation to the iconic Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building at 828 meters.
Alternate suggestions have surfaced, proposing its construction in Dubai's Pearl area, once home to an ambitious suspended skyscraper project, or the unfinished Palm Jebel Ali, both remnants of grand plans from the aftermath of the 2009 financial crisis.
While Dubai faced challenges in the past, the city has made remarkable strides in its recovery over the past 15 years. Average rents have surged by 26.9% annually, even in the face of safeguards against price manipulation. In 2021, Dubai witnessed an impressive 86,849 property sales transactions, surpassing the previous record set in 2009.
Louis Alsubh, CEO of prominent Dubai real estate agency "Alsubh & Alsubh," remarks, "Dubai today is a world apart from 2009... Projects are being launched and sold immediately."
Despite concerns about global inflation and interest rates, Dubai's currency, the dirham, remains pegged to the dollar, allowing the emirate to closely align with the increases in interest rates imposed by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Faisal Durrani, Head of Research for the Middle East region at real estate firm "Knight Frank," emphasizes the prevalence of cash transactions in Dubai, with approximately 80% of deals conducted without financing in 2022. Durrani explains that liquidity continues to drive the market, providing some insulation from interest rate fluctuations.
In addition to "Moon Dubai," other significant projects are forging ahead. "Nakheel," a state-owned real estate company responsible for "Palm Jebel Ali," has revived plans for the project. The company also unveiled an ambitious billion-dollar scheme to construct 80 resorts and hotels on Dubai's artificial islands, despite their current vacancies and their location beneath the bustling flight path of Dubai International Airport, one of the busiest airports worldwide.
The vision of "Moon Dubai" goes beyond typical real estate endeavors, akin to projects like the spherical "MSG Sphere" in Las Vegas, Nevada, costing 2.3 billion dollars, featuring LED screens and set to open later this year.
Henderson's vision for "Moon Dubai" as a fully spherical structure, capable of illuminating as a full moon, half moon, or crescent.
However, according to the agency, its brightness may not align well with potential neighbors. Plans for another "MS.G. Ambassador" dome in London were halted after residents protested against significant light pollution and potential disturbances caused by the structure.
Henderson acknowledges this challenge, stating, "It's difficult to please everyone; one might need dark curtains."