First chance to live on one of Dubai's reclaimed palm-shaped island in the middle of the Persian Gulf

Melissa York
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Designed by KPF Architects

Seen from above, The Palm looks like someone has taken a piece of chalk and doodled in the ocean.

This tree-shaped archipelago off the coast of Dubai is an artificially created development straight from the imagination of the Prince of Dubai himself. The plan was to create three new islands that would become major tourist destinations to boost the economy after the fall in oil prices.

The Royal Atlantis sits on Palm Jumeirah, the first island completed, which has added 520km of private beaches to the country’s coastline alone, as well as a water park, aquarium and a host of fine dining restaurants. The absurd location, jutting out into the Persian Gulf, coupled with the ludicrous expenditure on the project, creates a fantasy-realm for tourists, where everyone can live, for a while at least, like an oil baron.

But the release of the first homes at The Royal Atlantis are set to make this fantasy an every day reality for a select, monied few. Once completed in 2019, the project will bring 231 two to five bedroom apartments and 793 new guest rooms to the resort, which stretches over 10 hectares.

Another view of the building

Targeted at an increasingly demanding, globe-straddling buyer, these new residences are a cornerstone of Dubai 2021, a state-sponsored plan to cement the city as a global force to be reckoned with by the close of the decade.

“It’s to further solidify Dubai’s position as a true global city and encourage people to not only live, but to come and do business here as well,” says Maria Morris, a partner at Knight Frank, the agent marketing the new homes internationally. “It was important to come up with a scheme that aligned with the global appeal of Dubai. Now it’s firmly on the map we have to make sure the residential offerings align with that target market.”

Designing a building that stood out in Dubai – the home of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa – was no small feat. The Royal Atlantis is owned by luxury hotelier Kerzner International, which also operates the One & Only resort collection and the Mazagan hotel in Morocco.

But for its residential offering, it had to draft in a new team with a number of internationally acclaimed projects under its belt to move away from selling a fantasy to selling a lifestyle.

“It’s to further solidify Dubai’s position as a true global city and encourage people to not only live, but to come and do business here as well”

Kerzner hired KPF Associates, the New York-based firm behind Heron Tower and Southbank Tower in London, with interiors by Sybille de Margerie, the French designer behind the Mandarin Oriental Paris, while the 90m-high infinity pool has been designed by water feature experts WET, the firm behind the famous dancing fountains outside Las Vegas’ Bellagio Hotel.

“Dubai is renowned for having the biggest, the shiniest, the tallest buildings – and that is one element that has really made it stand out as a global city,” says Morris. “When we were designing the Royal Atlantis, we wanted to make sure it wasn’t just interesting in terms of the overall architecture; the insides of the units were as important as the outside.”

This meant changing the sales strategy to fit in with international buyers, by releasing blocks of homes on to the market periodically, an approach that’s rare in Dubai. Ranging from 1,498sqft all the way up to 17,000sqft for the most expensive penthouse, each of the apartments also has a different layout – a feature that gives the stacked building its contemporary shape.

A rendering of a gold bedroom at one of the apartments

“At the higher end of the market, it’s important to have something in the portfolio that’s unique, and that’s one of the key selling points of this building,” says Morris. To add another bespoke dimension, the developer is talking to artists to commission works especially for the communal areas, with the option to buy the works, as an upgrade of sorts, to display in private residences.

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The residents will also have year-round access to all the facilities at The Royal Atlantis resort. Kerzner International, like The Four Seasons and the Hilton Group, is riding a growing wave of luxury hoteliers venturing into the murky waters of global real estate.

“People like to know what they’re going to get and, when they feel comfortable with the brand, they’re confident they’ll deliver a certain level of quality,” Morris explains. And it appears to be a winning formula: with buyers from over 30 countries registering their interest so far, Dubai is on its way to being the first truly international city of the Middle East.

Prices at The Royal Atlantis Residences start at £6.995m. Call Knight Frank Global Sales on 0971 4426 2888 or email

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