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They Own the World
1 February 2009

They're rich enough to own "The World."

Tycoons and celebrities are plunking down millions to buy their own countries and continents - part of the 300 manmade islands built in the shape of real-life locales off the sun-drenched coast of Dubai.

The artificial archipelago, visible from space, was founded in 2003 by Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Nakheel, one of the world's largest developers.

The $10 billion development, completed just two weeks ago, was created by dredging 320 million cubic meters of rock and sand from the bottom of the Persian Gulf and landfilling it into formations that mimic Mother Earth. The new land mass encompasses an 5.5-mile-by-4.3-mile area.

International investors, real estate titans and royalty have already snatched up 70 percent of The World, many with plans to further develop their slivers of the pseudo-planet into resorts and playgrounds for the super-rich.

David Beckham, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson and Prince Albert of Monaco have reportedly shown interest in the islands.

Ireland, Shanghai, France and Siberia are already taken. But if you've got $20 million, Chad, Mongolia and Saudi Arabia could still be yours.

Here are some of the billionaires with a country to call home:



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