Floating island development to “definitely” start this year: Dutch Docklands CEO

A series of man-made floating islands in the Maldives are to begin development this year, Dutch Docklands International CEO Paul van de Camp has confirmed.

The project, which proposes the creation of five man-made islands to support leisure activities in the Maldives, will see the development of a 19-hole golf course begin by the end of 2013.

Set to combine underwater club houses, subterranean tunnels and private submarines, the course is expected to cost an estimated £320million (MVR 7.6 billion), UK media reported last year.

Speaking to Minivan News (January 15) van de Camp said more information regarding the finalised designs will be made available to the public later this year.

“We will definitely start [the development] in 2013. Our final selection of designs will be revealed in the next two to three months,” he added.

The project was first approved back in 2010 under the government of former President Mohamed Nasheed as a means to try and diversify tourism in the country.

An agreement with the former government to develop floating properties on five lagoons within Kaafu Atoll included a convention centre and an 18-hole golf course as part of a joint venture agreement.

Back in August last year, UK-based Daily Mail Newspaper reported that Dutch Docklands had unveiled designs for a floating golf course to be based “five minutes” away from Male’ by speed boat.

“The islands will also be designed for swimmers, divers and even private submarines to enter from below, and the Dutch firm designing the scheme has said visitors will be able to rent private submarines that can surface right in the middle of their living rooms,” the newspaper reported.

According to the Dutch Docklands website, the company is a shareholder in U-Boat Worx – a Dutch company that builds the “world’s most advanced” submarines.

Australian media recently reported more designs from the European developer, one of which being of a star-shaped floating convention hotel entitled “green star”.

“The Green Star will blend-in naturally with the existing surrounding islands. The green covered star-shape building symbolises Maldivians innovative route to conquer climate change,” a Dutch Docklands spokesperson told Herald Sun.

“This will become the number one location for conventions about climate change, water management and sustainability.”

Speaking to the Daily Mail last year, van de Camp said he had told the Maldives’ President “we can transform you from climate refugees to climate innovators.”

“The first part of the project to be built will be the golf course. This will be the first and only floating golf course in the world – and it comes complete with spectacular ocean views on every hole.

“And then there’s the clubhouse. You get in an elevator and go underwater to get to it. It’s like being Captain Nemo down there,” he was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

Koen Olthuis, who is working on the project through his Netherlands-based firm, WaterStudio, told the paper that the islands would be constructed outside of the country – potentially in India or the Middle East – a decision he claimed would ensure “no environmental cost to the Maldives”.

“When it comes to the golf course, the islands will be floated into position first and then the grass will be seeded and the trees planted afterwards,” he said.

The Daily Mail added that designers were aiming for the project to be run on renewable energy technology such as solar power, while claiming the construction would be carbon neutral.

According to an Australian news site, Dutch Docklands is currently selling waterfront villas situated overwater and designed in the shape of a ‘typical’ Maldivian flower at a starting price of $950,000.


Government approves project for floating golf course

The Maldivian government has signed a contract with Dutch Docklands of the Netherlands to develop a floating golf course and hotel in the Maldives.

Minister of Trade and Economy Mohamed Rasheed signed the contract on behalf of the Maldives, and Chief Executive Officer Wen Di Cam signed on behalf of Dutch Docklands.

President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed and Ambassador of the Netherlands to the Maldives Leoni Margaretha Cuelenaere attended the ceremony held at the President’s Office on 4 March when the agreement was signed.

Cam said the Docklands was proud to develop the floating centres in the Maldives and the company would seek a good location for the development.

He said the company would start the project as soon as possible after doing the necessary studies.

Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair said the project would be “very beneficial for the country.”

He added that it would increase the number of tourists visiting the country.

”Most of our resorts do not have a golf centre due to lack of space,” Press Secretary Zuhair said, noting that ”Golf has a good market in the world.”

Deputy Minister for Environment Mohamed Shareef said the floating golf centres would be “much better and more environmentally friendly than reclaiming land.”

Shareef noted the floating developments would be stabilised by anchoring.

dutch docklands2
Proposed golf course in the Maldives

”It would not be very harmful for the environment,” he said, ”the only damage is that it will block the sunlight from the stones and corals.”

He added that there were showcases of floating centres made by the same company in Australia.

”They are now developing such centres in the Middle East,” said Shareef. ”We would not compromise our environment for anything.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for conducting environmental impact assessments, has not yet been consulted on the project according to its director Mohamed Zuhair.

The project would “definitely have negative environmental impacts”, he said, but added that “it is not for the EPA to assess the risks of this project at this stage. The contractor [Dutch Docklands] is responsible for finding a suitable consultant to assess the risks.”

Zuhair said once project proposal by Dutch Docklands’ is finished, it will be submitted to the EPA who will then screen the project. The EPA will then provide an environmental assessment report.

“They can only start actual work once they have EPA approval,” he noted.

Director of environmental NGO Bluepeace, Ali Rilwan, said as long as the project was conducted in an environmentally friendly manner he thought it was “very exciting” and “innovative and weird”.

“I don’t think there should be a problem,” he said, “but it depends on how they do it.”