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Businessman hits back at 'jealous' Taj Dubai critics.

The backer behind a project to build a replica Taj Mahal in Dubai has refused to scrap the project despite vehement protests from disgusted Indians - who he says are just jealous of his Taj Arabia.

Arun Mehra, director at finance firm Link Global, announced the $1 billion (Dhs3.6 billion) project earlier this month.

However, Taj Mahal heritage groups in his native India reacted with fury to the news of the copycat build - branding it "wrong and absurd" and pleading with backers to cancel construction. They insist it would "belittle" the sacredness of the 460-year-old marble mausoleum masterpiece.

The backer behind a project to build a replica Taj Mahal in Dubai has refused to scrap the project despite vehement protests from disgusted Indians

But Indian businessman Mehra has blasted back, insisting it's "just a monument" - and the only Indians up in arms are those envious of his plans and worried of losing tourism to it.

"They're jealous," said Mehra. "Of course they are. Obviously.

"I've observed the comments that came out from the ex-mayor of Agra (the home of the Taj Mahal) saying tourism is going to drop - (but) once people come and see ours, they'll go and see theirs."

Taj Arabia, which Mehra confirmed will be finished by the end of 2014 and will be four times bigger than the Taj Mahal, will be primarily a hotel - with the ability to host wedding parties for up to 3,000 guests.

Mehra said: "They're saying 'we need to compensate them for loss' - but their business is going to go up.

"They have nothing to fear - there are other pyramids and people don't stop visiting the pyramids in Egypt."

Mehra believes Taj Arabia will add to Dubai's list of spectacular, world-famous designs.

"There's so much apprehension with these things," he said.

"When the Palm was being created, some work was stopped there. Today, I live at the Palm - it's a reality. Our project is also going to be a reality."

duncan.hare@7days.ae

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Oct 30, 2012
Words:346
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