their ever-expanding search for a luxurious and hassle-free life, prosperous 'global
citizens' and businesses are increasingly taking the bait from developers/countries
offering resorts, holiday homes and offices in what TRENDWATCHING.COM has dubbed
NATIONS*LITE*: a light version of
a country or society, like a Diet Coke, stripped of annoying 'features' like crime,
bad weather and excessive taxes. Which leaves the good things like sun, nice villas
and glittering shopping malls.
Consider it a nation-version of places like Disney's Celebration (a Disney-owned and operated town), Florida's many gated communities, or Las Vegas/Dominican Republic/Isla Margaritha resorts. A fantasy land, with the only difference being that it is for real. The most fascinating new embodiments of NATIONS*LITE* that TRENDWATCHING.COM is currently tracking must be the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the 'Freedom Ship'.
The UAE, a small Gulf state between Oman and Saudi Arabia, is outdoing itself to become the first NATION*LITE*. UAE consists of seven emirates, of which the two largest, Abu Dhabi (the Emirates' capital) and city state Dubai, provide over 80% of the UAE's income. Dubai is a hotspot for out-of-this world mega-projects geared towards businesses, well-to do tourists and second-home buyers from all over the world. The federal government, keen on making the UAE less dependent on oil and natural gas, is investing heavily in sectors such as tourism, aviation, re-export commerce, and telecommunications, all of which is creating a boom in trade and tourism, the latter which should see today's 5 million annual visitors mushroom to an incredible 40 million a year in 2015.
An overview of the most remarkable achievements and developments that are turning the UAE into a NATION*LITE* for prosperous HOME TROTTERS from Asia, the Middle East, the EU and South Africa:
The Palm, the self-declared 'eighth wonder of the world': two enormous man-made islands resembling palm trees, stretching out in the crystal clear waters off Dubai (click here for pictures). The 9,000 owners of The Palm's luxury villas and apartments -- due to settle there from early 2006 on -- will enjoy great weather, ocean views and freehold ownership. Tourists and transumers will be able to choose from 40 boutique hotels, all offering a unique country theme and type of guest experience. At five kilometres in diameter (and adding 120 kilometres of beach shoreline to Dubai), the islands will be visible from space.
The World Islands: in development by the same company that owns The Palm (Nakheel Corporation), this project will consist of a series of 200 islands, positioned strategically to form the shape of the globe's continents. 5 Kilometres off the coast of Dubai, it will be 5.5 kilometres in length and width, and cover 60 million square feet, including 10 million square feet of beach. The 200 islands will vary in size and will be themed to show some similarities to the specific country they represent. Basically, NATIONS*LITE* within a NATION*LITE*. This is where even TRENDWATCHING.COM is lost for words ;-). The development will cater specifically to the elite residential and tourist market. Total completion of the project is forecast for 2008.
The 'Financial Free Zone', targeting asset management, private banking and reinsurance, complete with its own courts (source: FT), will be joining three other Free Zones: Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and the Dubai Ideas Oasis.
An ever growing portfolio of spectacular, world-class hotels from the Jumeirah International Group, which consistently win global awards for being the ultimate in luxury and for their hard-to-miss architecture. For example: the Emirates Towers, rises 350 metres (1,148 feet), making it the tallest building in the Middle East and Europe, and 10th tallest in the world. And the '6 Star' Burj Al Arab Hotel, which boasts the world's largest Atrium lobby, and is called the most luxurious hotel in the world.
This month, they'll be joined by Madinat Jumeirah, the region's first 'Grand Boutique Hotel'. Scheduled to open fully in Autumn 2004, it will be a more complex and extensive hotel/leisure development than any the world has seen in the last 25 years. (TRENDWATCHING.COM likes the 'Grand Boutique' idea, definitely a trend in itself: applying the success factors of small boutique ventures to larger entities. W Hotels in the US/Australia is another good example. Stay tuned!)
Dubai Duty Free Airport and award-winning Emirates Airlines (voted the best airline in the world by the UK's Official Airline Guide for the past three years) are spending billions to have the infrastructure in place for those 40 million visitors and semi-inhabitants that will be traveling back and forth in 2015. Two months ago, Emirates announced the biggest order in civil aviation history, worth USD 19 billion, at the Paris Air Show 2003, including 21 new Airbus A380 Double Deck Airliners, and more than two dozen leased long range Boeing 777s.
Dubai International Airport was recently ranked as one of the fastest growing airports in the world, and is undergoing a USD 4.1 billion expansion. The Duty Free shopping area at Dubai Airport ranks fifth in terms of revenues, after London Heathrow, Singapore, Amsterdam and Paris.
Want even more? There's the USD 10 billion Dubai Marina Complex, which will eventually cover 53 million sq. feet, and house a community of 100,000 residents, with a meandering creek linked to the Gulf waters at its core. Or check out Dubai Healthcare City, a USD 1.6 billion project aimed at turning Dubai into a global hub for specialised healthcare (get medical help, then recover in 5 star resort-style? TRENDWATCHING.COM is tracking that trend, too!). >> Email this trend to a friend.
With no end in sight for their collossal NATIONS*LITE* projects, the UAE obviously will remain high on our trend-tracking list. For business opportunities, see below.
Want the opposite of UAE's deserts when it comes to NATIONS*LITE*? The world's first residence at sea, The World, is a 200-metre, 12 deck cruise ship that contains USD 2 to 7 million apartments. Sailing since March 2002 and forever circling the globe, The World has an average occupancy of 275 residents and guests, with an equal number of international staff. Want to board? Invest? Sell to its wealthy inhabitants, who are 40% American, 40% European, and 20% South African, Australian and ROW? Click here for the 2003/2004 itinerary. A sister ship may soon be in the works (source: the Sydney Morning Herald).
However, 275 residents don't really make for a bustling NATION*LITE*, so to the rescue comes the Freedom Ship, an ambitious, USD 11 billion idea, that -- if ever realized -- would see the development of a vessel that could house up to 40,000 residents! With a design length of 4,500 feet, a width of 750 feet, and a height of 350 feet, the Freedom Ship would be more than 4 times longer than the Queen Mary.
Like The World, the vessel would continuously circle the globe, covering most of the world's coastal regions. Its large fleet of commuter aircraft and hydrofoils would ferry residents and visitors to and from shore. The airport on the ship's top deck would serve private and small commercial aircraft (up to about 40 passengers each). The proposed vessel's superstructure, rising twenty-five stories above its main deck, would house residential space, a library, schools, and a first-class hospital in addition to retail and wholesale shops, banks, hotels, restaurants, entertainment facilities, casinos, offices, warehouses, and light manufacturing and assembly enterprises. Whether the Freedom Ship will ever take to the seas remains to be seen (new exterior designs were recently revealed), but the itinerary looks tempting enough!
Floating NATIONS*LITE* may become claustrophobic if you don't like your wealthy neighbors. And the UAE is seven hours by plane from Europe, and gets boiling hot in the summer. But a global class of millions of wealthy citizens, many of them youthful seniors, from Danes to Lebanese to South Africans, WILL increasingly vacation or even settle down in NATIONS*LITE* for care-free, five-star living. Whether it will make for a better world, TRENDWATCHING.COM doesn't know, but if you're a marketer, a manufacturer of luxury goods, a travel expert or a fellow trend watcher, a round-trip ticket to Dubai on Emirates Airlines to check out the scene, seems like a smart investment to us. Then mix in powerful trends like FLORIDASATION, HOME TROTTING and IMMI-MERCE, TRANSUMERISM, NON-CYCLICAL RICH, and it all comes together for NATIONS*LITE*.
We'll be tracking this trend closely to bring you new NATIONS*LITE* opportunities soon: from tourism and travel to retail, real estate and private investment. More to follow in future editions. >> Email this trend to a friend.
Other trends and new business ideas that are connected to the NATIONS*LITE* trend:
4. NON-CYCLICAL RICH
5. HOME TROTTING
OCTOBER 2003 | NATIONS*LITE* like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Freedom Ship are rolling out the red carpet. But if you thought our recent report (see above) on the UAE and Dubai was mind-boggling (massive palm-shaped, man-made islands), check out the update below: there's no end to Dubai's ambitions to become the world's premier 'nation-resort'!
• Work on the world's first under-water hotel will begin this year, finishing in 2006. Called Hydropolis, the USD 500 million, 220-suite facility will resemble a giant submarine anchored in the Gulf, and will be accessible only by a tunnel that connects to a waterside reception area. The spa in the 'water city' will have individual treatment areas arranged as galleries projecting far out of the domed area over the surface of the water. The 220 underwater suites will have gentle curving contours, soft lighting, interiors done in soft colours and materials, and soothing views of sunken garden landscapes and a sunken city. (Source: Guardian)
• The local Abdullah al-Futtaim Group recently launched Dubai Festival City, a project to develop a four-kilometer-long (2.5-mile-long) stretch of the emirate's southern creekside property at a cost of USD 1.6 billion. Over 400 pre-designed themed residential buildings and 35 commercial towers will be on offer for sale to local, regional and foreign investors. The new neighbourhood project, to be completed in phases by September 2006, will cover 800 hectares.
• Move over, Kuala Lumpur: Dubai's 'Burj Dubai' will be the tallest tower in the world. It will combine residential, commercial, hotel, entertainment, shopping and leisure outlets with open green spaces, water features, pedestrian boulevards, an 'Old Town' and one of the world's largest shopping malls. The design for the Burj Dubai was inspired by a six-petal desert flower, native to this region. The tower emerges from a base shaped like the flower in bloom. Although its height has been kept secret, the Burj Dubai is expected to be taller than the 452-meter Petronas Towers, the 492-meter Shanghai World Financial Centre to be ready in 2007 and the proposed 500+-meter tower to be built at the site of the World Trade Centre in New York.
• The Majid Al Futtaim group is developing the Mall of the Emirates, an entertainment and leisure complex whose cornerstone is the first snow playground(!) in the Middle East. This indoor winter sports resort will offer downhill skiing, snow boarding, an ice skating pond and an alpine village where you can build snowmen, go tobogganing and have snowball fights with real snow even during the Dubai summer. Mall of the Emirates will have a Moroccan theme, recreating the Moorish architecture of Casablanca and Marrakesh. It will include 60,000 square meters of retail stores, a hypermarket measuring 20,000 square meters, 45,000 square meters of entertainment facilities, a skate park and the largest rock-climbing wall in the Middle East.
• The Dubai Zoo, a USD 166 million project, will bring the African jungle and the Himalayas to the Dubai desert. The 560-hectare area adjacent to Mushrif Park will be an open zoo with six major habitats — sub-Saharan Africa, Arabian Desert, Wadi, Arabian coastal desert, Asian temperate forest and Himalayan hillside. Nature lovers can enjoy wild life safaris or spend the night in a Bedouin tent.
TRENDWATCHING.COM sticks to its earlier advice: if you're a marketer, a manufacturer of luxury goods, a travel expert or a fellow trend watcher, a round-trip ticket to Dubai on Emirates Airlines (or on one of the other 99 airlines flying into Dubai), seems like a smart (if not fun!) investment to us. >> Email this trend to a friend.
MARCH 2004 | TRENDWATCHING.COM's favorite NATIONS*LITE* poster child, Dubai, continues to push the envelope. A slew of new billion dollar projects has been announced, thereby further cementing Dubai's status as the world's first five-star 'nation resort'. Las Vegas and South Beach are working hard to catch up. Fasten your seatbelts:
Dubailand, a USD 4.9 billion tourist city aiming to be the largest AND most popular entertainment/tourism hotspot in the world, will house -- amongst others -- the Mall of Arabia, which of course will become the largest shopping mall in the world. (Source: Sara D'Amore.) Dubailand will consist of six themed worlds and over 200 individual projects; from a space exploration exhibition and full-size dinosaur enclosure to several new five-star hotels including one built in sand dunes, an indoor ski-slope(!), a complex of sports stadiums, and an ecological dome to grow vegetation in the heart of the desert.
Add to that an equestrian centre, aviation display, modern art gallery, water amusement park, and pyramids, and what you get is the Gulf Region's answer to Disneyland and then some. The scale of this project is immense: Dubailand will be almost as large as the present built-up area of Dubai, with the first attractions to open their doors in 2006. In their own words: "Dubailand will soon become the biggest, most varied, leisure, entertainment and tourism attraction on the planet." Just so you know.
Meanwhile, in the US, the NATIONS*LITE* trend seems to have evolved from Disney's less than edgy Celebration village to the hustle and bustle of sunny fata morgana communities like Las Vegas and South Beach. No longer just a quick-visit destination for indulging in gambling, partying and sunbathing, dozens of fully catered residential towers are being erected to house well-to-do consumers who want to reside in Vegas and South Beach for extended periods of time, if not all year round. A few developments:
The Residences is a condominium hotel enclave built on the MGM GRAND grounds in Las Vegas. Suites come with the pleasures of being an owner and a pampered hotel guest: from spa facilities to restaurants, and from the enormous casino to the Studio 54 night club. Real estate developer Turnberry Associates is behind this latest example of 5 star hotel living; other projects include their Vegas Turnberry Place (a fourth residential tower is going up soon, with serviced apartments priced from USD 450,000 to 5.9 million), and Miami's Porto Vita, Fontainebleau II and the Turnberry Ocean Colony.
And there's more NATIONS*LITE* building going on in the Sunshine State: from Canyon Ranch Living, a residential community located on over 750 feet of oceanfront in Miami Beach (five-star residential services include an acclaimed oceanfront restaurant and a full-service, 60,000 square foot Spa and Fitness Center) to the Tower Residences situated above the new Four Seasons Hotel Miami. Last but not least, Mr. 'you're fired' Trump is behind the Trump Grande Ocean Resort and Residences, located at the midpoint of the Miami Beach - Ft. Lauderdale corridor. Will we all be calling room service in the future to request breakfast before going to work?
Disclaimer: some of these NATIONS*LITE* examples may be bewildering. Yet this IS all happening as we speak. For now, the important insight to be gained is that most consumer goods and services that we now consider to be mundane and commonplace, were initially introduced by pioneers of luxury and lifestyle.
And thus, while not all future residences will have access to their own 60,000 square foot health spas, the trend of providing hotel-style services to residential owners or communities, will trickle down to the MASS CLASS in a less sumptuous version, yet on a much larger scale.
For everyone from sociologists to marketers to service providers, there's more to NATIONS*LITE* than insane shopping malls in the middle of the desert and high-rises filled with scandalously rich people than meets the (privileged eye)! >> Email this trend to a friend.
JULY 2004 | TRENDWATCHING.COM is fascinated with the Gulf Region, as the area is rapidly turning itself into a collection of the world's first resort nations, welcoming all consumers of the world as long as they bring cash and a shop-til-you-drop mindset. In previous issues, as part of our NATIONS LITE trend, we brought you some of the mind boggling real-estate and tourism projects underway in the United Arab Emirates. Now, get ready for Qatar to join NATIONS LITE mania:
Dubai may have its sensationally shaped Palm and World islands, but Qatar has embarked on developing the Pearl of The Gulf; a USD 2.5 billion manmade island off the coast of Doha, made to look like a string of pearls and diamonds. Construction by Qatar's United Development Company (UDC) began on 5 April 2004 and the first phase of residential construction is scheduled to be ready by September 2006. Full completion is penciled in for 2009.
It is Qatar's largest real-estate project and the state's first development to offer freehold and residential rights to the international community. The Island will eventually cover 400 million square metres and encompass 7,600 residential units housing 30,000 people. Ten unique districts will be developed. These themed districts will house three luxury hotels, four marinas providing mooring for over 700 boats, and 60,000 sq meters of retail and restaurant space.
In true NATIONS LITE fashion, The Pearl of the Gulf has been designed to include all the latest facilities and services in an exclusive island retreat. It will become 'a peaceful haven offering a lush environment where families can live in secure harmony'. Like The Palm and The World, it's something you need to see to believe. To avid readers of this newsletter, it won't come as surprise that the Pearl of the Gulf is part of an even bigger masterplan: on 1 May 2004, Qatar unveiled a USD 15 billion investment plan to establish itself as THE high quality destination for cultural tourism, beach resorts, shopping, lifestyle, business and sports events. Move over, Dubai? ;-)
Our NATIONS LITE trend tends to invoke strong feelings (as we noticed during some of our seminars). However, keep in mind that a true trend spotter can derive inspiration and insights from basically EVERYTHING. Qatar and Dubai's ambitious plans will provide marketers with new ideas from the world of travel, retail, architecture, and leisure for years to come. And thanks to the Gulf's geographical coordinates (conveniently nestled between Europe and Asia), these ideas will be a welcome change from the usual US/EU-centric examples. So, more in our next NATIONS LITE update, and in the mean time, if you want to see all of this for yourself, check out ever-expanding, Dubai-based Emirates Airlines. It inaugurated its first daily, direct flights from New York to Dubai on June 1st. Toronto, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires are next, while Auckland and Moscow were added a few months ago. It certainly is becoming a MASS CLASS world!! >> Email this trend to a friend.