During a ceremony held at the Ministry of Tourism on June 23, 2022, to change the floating city agreement and sign the new agreement. Dhauru Photo/Mohammad Muzayyin Nazim

Floating city project fails to materialise; 2 lagoons sold

Subsequently, on June 23, 2022, the floating city project agreement was re-signed after changes were made.

9 March 2023

By Ahmed Mizyal

Tourism ministry has revealed that none of the lagoons allotted to Dutch Docklands have work commenced, which is building the world's first floating city in the Maldives, and that some have been sold off.

Some members of parliament questioned in a parliamentary session on February 21 whether the state received any money from the sales of the lagoon areas given to the Dutch Docklands Company.

Planning Minister Mohamed Aslam, who was present in parliament that day to respond to the issue, was also questioned by some lawmakers.

In response to an application sent under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Ministry of Tourism said that the ministry's records show that a total of five lagoons were allotted to Dutch Docklands Maldives in 2019.

"As per the moU signed between Dutch Docklands Maldives Private Limited and this Ministry on May 8, 2019, the sale and mining of these lagoons was permitted," the ministry's reply said.

"The ministry's records show that the lagoons leased to Dutch Docklands Maldives are yet to be reclaimed."

The Dutch Docklands were permitted to sell and acquire the lagoons allotted to them under the agreement, while the ministry said it has already sold two of the five lagoons allotted to the company. Here are some of them:

  • One lagoon was sold for USD 100,000 (MVR 1.53 million)

  • The other lagoon was sold for USD 5,000 (MVR 76,750)

The first attempt to implement the floating city project was made during former president Mohamed Nasheed's administration. However, the project came to a halt at that time after Nasheed's change of government in February 2012.

The project was re-signed on May 8, 2019, after the current government came to power. However, since then, there has been no work on the project.

Nasheed had accused the government of the project in a series of messages sent to MDP’s National Assembly's WhatsApp group last year, after the party's internal rivalry intensified and two factions, both of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Nasheed emerged. Thus:

  • Nasheed said the government was stalling the project as it had his name

  • Responding to Nasheed, Economy Minister and MDP Chairperson Fayyaz Ismail said in the group that the Dutch Docklands had recently submitted a proposal for their own benefit and there were legal hurdles in authorising it to them

  • The company wants to carry out a housing project in a certain part of the resort's lagoon, but the company has proposed to remove that portion from the tourism zone; Fayyaz said that this could only be done by amending the law

  • Fayyaz had said at the time that the project was a scam and that the company had already sold three lagoons given to Dutch Docklands

Subsequently, on June 23, 2022, the floating city project agreement was re-signed after changes were made.

Speaking at the ceremony, Tourism Minister Mausoom said the decision to change the agreement was taken to allow people to build residential spaces on part of a resort. The agreement was brought about, he pointed out, only a "developmental" change.

In February last year, Bison, the country's largest construction company, was awarded the contract to build a house in the floating city. At the time, it was said that the houses would be finalised after that year's Ramadan. He made changes to the deal in June and said the first houses would be seen in August. However, so far, there has been no other work in the floating city except for houses built as mock-ups.

Floating City:

  • 5,000 housing units

  • 35 luxury villas

  • Three-bedroom apartments on 1,500 - 900 square feet with two storeys

  • The cost of an apartment - MVR 2 - 4 million

The floating city will be built with the help of technology used in the Netherlands.