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A sinking development?

Are the islands on Dubai’s famed ‘The World’ actually sinking? A story in the UK’s Telegraph reports the world map-mimicking islands are falling below the watery depths of the ocean, even if 47million tonnes of rock has been used to create the archipelago. 

The most recent flare up related to the development is based on a claim made by British Lawyer Richard Wilmot-Smith on behalf of Penguin Marine Boats Services LLC, before a property tribunal. Penguin, who is paying NZ$2 million a year to run its boat operations in the island development, is taking up its case against developer of the World, Nakheel. 

Wilmot-Smith told judges the islands are eroding and that navigational channels between them are filling with silt. 

With only a small amount of business coming its way, the company wants to exit its contract. 

But the developer is hitting back, issuing a statement saying:

"Our periodical monitoring survey over the past three years has not observed any substantial erosion that requires sand nourishment, and there is no issue with the stability of the world islands."

In that same statement, Nakheel said 70 percent of the artificial islands have been sold. 

The development is no stranger to controversy. In 2009, NASA sparked a debate when it released imagery of the development from its earth observatory, saying “little to no infrastructure development of The World is apparent in this astronaut photograph”. 

NASA imagery

In 2009, the Dubai government announced a NZ$12.5 billion injection into state-owned Dubai World, of which Nakheel was a part of, to help it pay of NZ$31 billion in debts.