Dubai, home to some of the world’s biggest attractions, including the world’s tallest building and the world’s largest indoor theme park, has unveiled plans to build its own miniature floating replica of Venice.
Complete with its own Piazza San Marco, winding canals packed with gondolas imported direct from the Italian city, as well as canalside walkways and bridges, the new resort will be, Dubai claims, the "world's first underwater luxury vessel resort".
Located in the famous The World development, two and a half miles off the coast of the UAE city, the Venetian hotel complex will be spread over four decks, offering 414 cabins, 180 of which, along with the resort’s spa and three of its 12 restaurants and bars, will be underwater.
The floating resort will accommodate up to 3,000 guests who can arrive by boat, seaplane or helicopter to the complex's main square. Guests can also access 12 “floating beaches” and more than 4,000 square feet of corals planted around the resort that aim to foster marine life, which can be viewed from pools with transparent floors made of acrylic glass (paying homage to Venetian glass).
The resort will also offer various Venetian style shops and other venues and host a number of traditional Venetian festivals including the Carnivale di Venezia, Binnale di Venezia and Festa del Rendentore.
Construction on the AED2.5billion-resort (£514m), developed by the Kleindienst Group (a Dubai-based Austrian developer), is expected to begin in 2018 and be completed by 2020, the same year when the Dubai Expo will be taking place.
The complex is projected to have a lifespan of 100 years, with its upper decks built from “marine lightweight materials”, while its underwater quarters will be made from a mix of concrete.
The new resort will be located in The Heart of Europe, a development of six resort islands (named Main Europe, Germany, Monaco, Sweden, Switzerland and St Petersburg) each showcasing the “best of what Europe has to offer”, with various offerings themed around those regions.
The islands are part of The World, an archipelago of 300 artificial islands designed to form a vast map of Earth when viewed from above.
The floating Venice is latest in a series of ambitious attractions underway in Dubai, including the world’s largest observation wheel, which earlier this year was shown to be more than halfway complete.
The first foundation stone of a new tower that will surpass Dubai’s 828m (2,716 ft)-high Burj Khalifa, the current world’s tallest building, was laid out last October.