A cluster of artificial islands inspired by the "wonders of the solar system" is to be built off the coast of the booming Gulf emirate of Dubai, developers Nakheel said on Sunday.
'The Universe' project will feature islands in the shape of the sun, moon and other planets. The development will create new luxury living space, commercial opportunities and additional coastline," Nakheel said, without stating the cost of the project or its planned completion date.
The Western-oriented emirate of Dubai, one of seven that make up the United Arab Emirates, is a leisure hub in the oil-rich Gulf and draws millions of visitors every year. Several other similar mega-projects are already being developed by Nakheel in the wealthy city-state, including three huge palm-tree shaped islands.
One of these islands, the Palm Jumeirah, is more than one and a half times the size of New York's Central Park and will eventually house thousands of luxury apartments, beachside villas, upmarket hotels and restaurants.
Environmental groups have warned the heavy dredging involved in creating the islands could damage marine habitats while other experts warn of increased pollution and strains on the local environment.
But Nakheel says it goes to great lengths to ensure sustainability and to minimise ecological damage across all its developments.