Dubai This Week's first look: Inside Anantara World Islands

The area is home to one of the world's largest coral nurseries.


Michal Michelle Divon

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Published: Tue 15 Mar 2022, 8:32 PM

Last updated: Wed 26 Oct 2022, 5:12 PM

Tucked away just 4 kilometres from the Dubai shoreline, the Anantara World Islands has opened with a bang and we were among the first guests to take a look.

Dubai’s own version of The Hamptons, the project has been a long time in the making. A series of man-made islands replicating as the name suggests, ‘the world’, was first announced by Nakheel in 2003.

Dubai This Week was excited to finally see it taking off and get a glimpse of the South American Island now home to the luxurious Anantara World Islands.

A series of 300 islands, construction was completed in 2008, but it is only now that the project is coming to life, with The Heart of Europe also opening up its luxury beach palaces for sale.

The area is now home to one of the world's largest coral nurseries as marine experts cultivate a brand new marine ecosystem.

Dubai is one of the world’s top tourism destinations and this latest unique offering is sure to pull in more curious travellers eager to see what this ambitious mega-project is all about.

Following in the footsteps of the success of Palm Jumeirah, the World Islands has made global headlines for its complexity and daring nature.

It takes a 15-minute speedboat ride from Anantara The Palm to reach the paradisical island of Anantara World Islands.

As if arriving to the Maldives, this island haven feels a million miles from the city which is just minutes away, the resort’s vibe inviting guests to immediately switch into vacation mode.

Blending Anantara’s Thai heritage with the UAE’s pearling history, pergola-style structures with thatched roofs dot the ocean’s edge while attention to local details are not missed.

A giant chandelier made from hundreds of oyster shells hangs majestically within the pergola structure which guests see when they first arrive for the welcome ceremony, paying tribute to the UAE’s past.

Sandy walkways wind through the resort, dotted with colourful tropical flowers which add vibrance to the subtle, earthy design and in true Anantara tradition, Thai-style tuk-tuks can ferry guests around for a fun Thai feel.

As the skyline fades away into the distance and the air is filled with birdsong rather than car horns, guests are transported to this other-worldly natural wonderland.

Created from sand dredged from the Gulf, each of the islands, which are supported by several millions of tons of rocks, ranges from 250,000 to 900,000 sq ft and the entire collection covers some 5.4 miles across.

Properties around the development and even whole islands have been snapped up by the rich and famous from around the globe.

Dubai’s own man-made archipelago has created a natural retreat with all the luxury and ambition of Dubai combined with the most exquisite natural touches to rival any natural tropical island.

As we explored the scenery, it was hard to believe we were still in the UAE, the area’s deep blue waters accented by the stunning landscaping reminiscent more of Bali than the Middle East, the scent of flowers reminiscent of a tropical garden.

Whether relaxing and enjoying the serenity or in search of adventures, there is much to do at this island getaway where peacocks parade gracefully around the manicured walkways.

In Dubai’s competitive tourism market, it’s not easy for resorts to stand out, but Anantara, famous in the city for its iconic resort on The Palm, has set the bar high at the World Islands’ inaugural resort.

With diving experiences and boat trips, it is most definitely an ocean-lover’s haven and its decadent spa treatments and fine dining make it the prime pampering location.

The resort boasts three restaurants, Helios for Mediterranean all-day dining, Luna, a South American lounge with tapas and drinks with some breathtaking views to the Dubai skyline, and for a touch of something a little more regionally inspired, we checked out Qamar, a fun fusion of Middle East meets India.

This is a great spot to catch views across the islands with majlis-style seating to add that local flavour. We started our dinner with a recommended fattoush salad and cold mezzeh of hummus, tabbouleh, labneh, vine leaves and Muhammara for a taste of the Middle East, accompanied by both pita and naan bread, in true Qamar fashion. Our mains included a mix of Arabic and Indian; a portion of rich butter chicken and classic Arabic mixed grill, both highly satisfying and all served in traditional metal plates.

As they say, there is always room for dessert and we saved the last bite for the stuffed Baklava which comes as a triangular cake slice filled with ice cream and pistachio goodness. Pairing dessert with arabic coffee is a must.

Waking up in paradise, each villa has its own private pool and beach access in addition to a dedicated staff member. This is luxury at its finest.

The island is spread across 142,000 sqm and there are 70 rooms, suites and villas. While this may sound overwhelming, you hardly feel there is anyone else around with the nature driven design. The privacy and seclusion is spectacular.

Room categories range from the elevated Ocean View rooms which all boast breathtaking views from the balconies, to the enormous 224 square metre four-bedroom Beach Pool Villa where guests walk out to their own private beach front. Rates start from Dh1,600.

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