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The Heart of Europe to ready it for opening by 2020. Photo / Supplied

Dark and deadly secret: Inside Dubai's luxurious island paradise that never came to be

At first glance it seems to be the ultimate playground for the rich, but this stunning island archipelago has a dark and deadly secret.

Soaring over Dubai in a light plane, I spotted a dizzying array of opulent structures springing up from the Palm Jumeirah, a famous man-made island that's as intriguing as it is audacious.

I tried in vain to stop my jaw from dropping to the floor of the aircraft.

The Heart of Europe's other islands include Germany, Sweden, St Petersburg, Switzerland and Main Europe. Photo / Supplied
The Heart of Europe's other islands include Germany, Sweden, St Petersburg, Switzerland and Main Europe. Photo / Supplied

Lavish villas, water parks, the famous Atlantis Hotel and exquisite restaurants are among the tourism drawcards located on the palm tree-shaped archipelago that juts out into the Arabian Gulf.

This sprawling concrete utopia was an awe-inspiring sight to take in — even after having just been wowed by the aerial views of the world's tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, and the spectacular ship sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel.

The mammoth Palm Island engineering project, which is visible from space, is so impressive that it has even been hailed as the "eight wonder of the world". So it's little wonder the Emirate is attempting to recreate this huge success with a second — even more ambitious — neighbouring island mega-project called the World.

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