Dubai World unit signs deal for undersea 'disc' hotels in UAE

A young boy watches the fish in the giant tank at Atlantis the Palm Hotel on February 23, 2012 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Drydocks World, the indebted shipbuilding arm of Dubai World, has signed a deal to develop undersea hotels a month after seeking insolvency protection in Dubai and Singapore.

In a statement released Wednesday, and reported by Gulf News, the company said it had signed an agreement with a Swiss company to develop the World Discus Hotel off the emirate's coast.

Part of the futuristic hotel, including a dive centre and a bar, will be submerged at least 30 feet under the sea, Reuters reported

Rooms will also feature a special lighting system and miniature underwater vehicles operable from inside the building that will allow guests to get an up-close look at sea life.

The hotel will be funded by BIG InvestConsult which, as a representative of the Deep Ocean Technology, the Polish owner of the technology and concept behind Water Discus Hotel, holds the technology rights to it.

However, "Drydocks and Maritime World is appointed as the exclusive main contractor for construction of the new concept hotels and cities floating in the Middle East," Drydocks said in a statement.

Dubai, home to man-made islands shaped like palms and a map of the world, also boasts the world's tallest tower and an indoor ski slope — products of extravagant spending during the 2002-2008 boom years.

Only last month, Drydocks filed for insolvency protection at the Dubai World Tribunal to push through a $2.2 billion debt restructuring deal.

According to The National, the shipbuilder is seeking to restructure two bank loans issued in 2008: one valued at $1.7 billion became due in October and the other valued at $500 million is maturing next year.

The company is part of Dubai World, the conglomerate that triggered Dubai's debt crisis four years ago.

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However, according to Reuters, Dubai has been making a recovery thanks largely to its logistics, trade and tourism sectors and relative political calm among the Arab Spring revolts that roiled the region.

Two developments with five hotels attached to them are planned in the Middle East, the firms said Wednesday. 

"We are in the design and fabrication side for the project ... it's the same concept as rigs," Khamis Juma Buamim, chairman of Drydocks World told reporters.

"This project has seven different types of designs and [each will cost in] the range of around $50 million to $120 million. The amount varies based on the design."

"The discussions are to build these around the world, not just the UAE," he said.

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