In a May interview with Emirates Women, Lindsay Lohan announced she finally found peace while living in Dubai. She also found a new career in name-brand clubs. After successful openings in Greece, Lohan reported in May that she is taking over two islands in one of Dubai’s most notorious development projects: The World. This project has weathered numerous roadblocks and scandals since its inception in 2003. But, as Lohan plans to open a beach club on one of the islands later this year, it looks as if the mega-project is on a path to international redemption.
In the bay outside of Dubai, 300 sand islands began to rise out of the water. They were named after different countries and arranged to look like planet earth. By 2008, the construction of the man-made archipelago was complete. Nakheel, the local developer, told the National that 70% of The World had sold. Developers and architects were drawing up ambitious projects to satisfy the whims of millionaires. The owner of Ireland planned to build a replica of Giant’s Causeway. Karl Lagerfeld was hired to design homes on Isla Moda, a space devoted as much to celebrating couture as it was exclusivity. Then, the financial crisis hit Dubai.
Development halted on the islands. By 2009, the state-owned conglomerate Dubai World, which included Nakheel, was reportedly bailed out of debts reaching $25 billion. Other investors were not able to follow-through with development plans and so the project remained villa-less. In an early 2011 tribunal, lawyers claimed the islands were sinking back into the ocean.
On the other side of the world, Lindsay Lohan was in trouble with the law, too. Charged with felony theft for lifting a necklace, she returned in February 2011 for her eighth stint in court in nine months. When she completed her mandated community service hours, the county judge left her with a piece of advice: “Live your life in a more mature way, stop the night-clubbing and focus on your work.”
In 2016, nightclubs became her work. According to Trip Advisor, she’s not bad at it. Lohan opened her first nightclub in Athens with business partner Dennis Papageorgiou (no longer affiliated). Reviews online praise it as the “best club in town” and a “totally surprising experience,” noting that the large club is normally packed. This May, she opened up an exclusive beach club in Mykonos and now has plans to have a similar one in Rhodes. But, for her most ambitious project, she is setting her sights on Dubai’s man-made islands.
Lohan announced she will take over Lebanon and Thailand in The World complex. The former will be a beach club with a restaurant, cabanas and possibly private villas while the latter will house a luxury hotel and a Michelin-style restaurant. Her beach club on Lebanon will open by the end of this year.
Opening clubs does not mean Lohan has returned to the lifestyle they embody. “I get so uncomfortable with that word, party,” she told Emirates Women. Instead, in a shrewd business move, she evaluated what the public would expect her to do well. “That’s why I opened my club in Greece, because I thought what’s the one thing that people have most misconstrued about me? It was probably about me always going to clubs.” She did not have to do much marketing for her latest opening. The only promotional video that included her was a recycled short film from 2011. She relied on the name to sell the spot: Lohan Beach Club. According to the cab driver bringing a New York Times reporter to an interview with Lohan, the beach house is becoming one of the hottest clubs on the island.
As Lohan leans into her personal brand, The World is coming back to life, too. Developers are returning with even more outlandish ideas than they had a decade ago. Kleindienst, a European real estate company in Dubai, is developing a replica of Venice that includes a section entirely underwater. Josef Kleindienst told the Guardian he also has plans for an island where it will snow all year round. And, on Sweden, Kleindienst claims gulf royalty have purchased ten luxury palaces. Construction has already begun on the palaces, which are meant to be finished by the end of this year.
As blueprints and budgets begin to resemble those a decade ago, it is best to hope that history does not repeat in this World. “The Global Economy Is Partying Like It’s 2008,” wrote Desmond Lachman in the New York Times last December. The World, as it is imagined, may not survive another hangover.