Dubai rainforest
Illustration of the Damac Properties rainforest to be housed within the company's Akoya Oxygen master development communityDamac Properties

Ten years after opening the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, Dubai has announced its plan to build the first tropical rainforest in the Middle East – that critics have dubbed the most absurd yet of the desert city's many outlandish construction projects.

The Dubai Rainforest is set to be housed within project developer Damac Properties' Akoya Oxygen master community, a luxury housing development, and is slated to be completed ahead of Expo 2020.

Described as an educational and cultural dome, the rainforest is designed to recreate the natural environment of rainforests, which cover 6% of the world's surface, the developer said.

But the project, which will be adjacent to billionaire Donald Trump's golf course, has been criticised by environmentalists, who say the its expected high water footprint is likely unsustainable in a desert climate.

They say the project could hinder the government's efforts to control the rapidly rising water and energy consumption in the emirate.

The United Arab Emirates already has the highest level of water consumption per capita on the planet, as its residents consume 550 litres daily per person. That's almost four times the UK average.

In spite of criticism, the developer has pledged the project will be a "monument to the green economy".

"Dubai is known around the world for attracting the biggest and best and the Dubai Rainforest joins that list of unique attractions which will support the growth of the city," said Ziad El Chaar, Managing Director of Damac Properties.

Fantastical projects

Dubai faced a humiliating economic crisis in 2009, during which its property market imploded – exposing its debt-laden economy, but the collapse has been forgotten as investors have been dive in again.

As the economy has stepped up, so too have the desert city's announcements of future fantastical projects.

The new tropical rainforest project will join attractions such as theme parks, in addition to the world's largest fountain, the Palm Jumeirah, the Dubai Eye and the Dubai Aquarium.

After Dubai overcame London's Heathrow as the world's busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic, according to figures from the Airports Council International – it has about building the world's biggest airport.

"Looking forward to 2015, the prospects remain exceedingly bright, and we expect to maintain the growth achieved this year in the next 12 months," said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.

Earlier in 2015, it was also announced that Dubai was to build the world's biggest shopping mall –the Mall of the World.

Developer Dubai Holding said the mall will include an eight million square foot shopping centre, theatre district, indoor theme park and 100 hotels.

In total, the complex will cover 48 million square feet. No completion date has been announced yet, but once finished it will overtake the Dubai Mall as the world's biggest mall.

The world's biggest Ferris wheel, which sits on a man-made island, is already under construction.

Standing at almost 250ft taller than the London Eye, the Dubai Eye will stand on The Bluewaters Island. It will reach 690ft tall – taller than many of the skyscrapers in Canary Wharf in London.

Dubai is hoping to attract tourists with its future biggest underwater theme park and biggest manmade lagoon.

Developers Crystal Lagoons said the lagoon should be completed by 2020.

It will include beaches, watersports and swimming in clear filtered water and will be part of the £4.3bn ($6.6bn) Mohammed Bin Rashid City.