DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- The World, Dubai's artificial sandy islands shaped and named after countries, is sinking into the sea, evidence suggests.
British attorney Richard Wilmot-Smith representing the business contracted to provide boat travel around The World, Penguin Marine, presented evidence before a Dubai tribunal against its state-run developer, Nakheel, alleging the sands are eroding and the navigational channels between each island are silting up, The Daily Telegraph of Britain reported.
"The islands are gradually falling back into the sea," Wilmot-Smith said. The evidence showed "erosion and deterioration of The World islands," he added.
Nakheel says 70 percent of The World's 300 islands have been sold, but several investors became either unable or unwilling to finance further work when the bottom dropped out of Dubai's property prices, halving in the pace of one year, the Telegraph said Thursday.
With little business, Penguin Marine tried unsuccessfully to get out of its contract involving paying Nakheel an annual fee of just under $1.6 million.
Wilmot-Smith claimed work on The World had "effectively stopped."
Nakheel spokesman Graham Lovett said the project wasn't dead but "in a coma" and Penguin would make money eventually.
"That's the price Penguin makes to stay in the game," Lovett said. "They have the potential to earn millions."
Penguin lost its case Thursday with the tribunal saying it would explain its reasoning at a later date.