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Palm Jumeirah (left) and Palm Deira (right) with The World and The Universe archipelagos, design view

Palm Islands are three artificial islands, Palm Jumeirah, Deira Island and Palm Jebel Ali, on the coast of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Creation of the islands started in 2001. Only Palm Jumeirah has been completed. This island takes the form of a palm tree, topped by a crescent.

After completion, Palm Jebel Ali will take a similar shape. Like Palm Jumeirah, each island will host many residential, leisure and entertainment centers and will add a total of 520 kilometers of non-public beaches to the city of Dubai.

Palm JumeirahEdit

Palm Jumeirah, artificial offshore islands in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the site of private residences and hotels. From the air, the archipelago resembles a stylized palm tree within a circle. Palm Jumeirah was built in the early 21st century and was largely financed from Dubai's substantial income from petroleum.

Trunk, spine, fronds, and crescent are the names by which the principal sectors of Palm Jumeirah are known. The broad trunk, connected to the mainland by a bridge, serves as the entrance to the development. Another bridge connects the trunk to the spine, a narrow central axis from which 17 fronds protrude. The crescent is a breakwater that nearly surrounds the other sectors. It is divided into three sections so as to facilitate the circulation of seawater. A vehicular tunnel connects the spine to the crescent, and a transit monorail runs about 3 miles (4.8 km) from the mainland to the crescent through the spine and trunk. The crescent is 650 feet (200 metres) wide and about 10.5 miles (16.9 km) long altogether. At least 1,380 acres (560 hectares) of new land were created in all, within an area about 3.1 miles (5.0 km) in diameter.

The developer of Palm Jumera was Nakheel Properties, a real estate company now owned by the government of Dubai. The master plan was drawn up by Helman Hurley Charvat Peacock, an American architectural firm. The islets were made mostly from sand dredged from the floor of the Persian Gulf, but the side of the crescent that is exposed to the open sea was shored up with stones and boulders from the mainland. Work started in 2001, and land and basic infrastructure were in place by 2004. Construction of the buildings began in 2006, and the first residents arrived in 2007.

The Palm Jumeirah seen from the International Space Station.

Environmental concernsEdit

The construction of the Dubai Palm Islands has had a significant impact on the surrounding environment, resulting in changes to area wildlife, coastal erosion, alongshore sediment transport and wave patterns. Sediment stirred up by construction has suffocated and injured local marine fauna and reduced the amount of sunlight which filters down to seashore vegetation. Variations in alongshore sediment transport have resulted in changes in erosion patterns along the UAE coast, which has also been exacerbated by altered wave patterns as the waters of the Persian Gulf attempt to move around the new obstruction of the islands. [1][2]

Dubai's megaprojects have become a favourite cause of environmentalists. Greenpeace has criticized the Palm Islands for lack of sustainability, and, a site dedicated to rain forest conservation, has attacked Dubai's artificial islands aggressively, stating that:

Significant changes in the maritime environment [of Dubai] are leaving a visual scar [... ] As a result of the dredging and redepositing of sand for the construction of the islands, the typically crystalline waters of the Persian Gulf at Dubai have become severely clouded with silt. Construction activity is damaging the marine habitat, burying coral reefs, oyster beds and subterranean fields of sea grass, threatening local marine species as well as other species dependent on them for food. Oyster beds have been covered in as much as two inches of sediment, while above the water, beaches are eroding with the disruption of natural currents.[3]

Structural importanceEdit

Palm Jumeirah was built entirely from sand and rocks (no concrete or steel was used to build the island). This was done in accordance with the order of the Ruler of Dubai, who came up with the idea for the Palm Islands, as well as their design.[4]

Construction resources involvedEdit

  • 5.5 million cubic meters of rock brought from over 16 quarries in Dubai.
  • 94 million cubic meters of sand brought from deep sea beds 6 nautical miles from the coast of Dubai.[1]
  • 210 million cubic meters of rock, sand and limestone

Main constraintsEdit

An important constraint was that the time estimated for completion of the project (4 years) was too long. To make the construction process on top of the island faster; 40,000 workers were hired working at 2 different shifts per day (Each shift was 12 hours).

Project risks and threatsEdit

  • Waves 2 meters high.
  • Annual or biennial storm frequency.
  • Weak soil due to constant exposure to rising sea water.[5]
  • Water pollution.

Hidden problemsEdit

  • Erosion (caused by winds and water currents) is one of the biggest problems present, as it strips away the sand which forms the majority of the island.
  • Damage to the marine ecology (e.g. the loss of reefs and fish), including disturbances in the reproductive cycles of the species of fish that were close to the shores of Dubai. Research conducted by marine biologists on this phenomenon showed that the newly-born fish were not able to survive in conditions along the shores of Dubai due to constant construction and environmental alterations (e.g. shifting of sand, moving boulders and the effects of the vibrations).
  • Due to the shape of the island right outside the coast of Dubai, there is loss of coastal shape along the seashore of Dubai.[6]

Obstacles after the island constructionEdit

Installation of utilities and pipelines were very difficult and laborious.[7]

Risk mitigationEdit

To counteract with the waves and the constant motion of the sea, breakwaters were built all around the island. They were 3 meters high and 160 kilometers in total length. Expanded over a length of about 11.5 kilometers, the base of these breakwaters and the island itself were constantly monitored during construction process with the help of deep sea divers. The divers checked the alignment and placement of the rocks beneath the surface to ensure its stability. Shape of the island was monitored using the global positioning system (the satellite was placed about 676 kilometres from sea level into space).

The sand on top of the island was sprayed by a technique called rainbowing.[8] Here the sand from the dredging ships was sprayed on to the land. The whole island was planned such that there was no stagnant water between the island and the breakwaters. In order to achieve this, small structural modifications were made to the breakwaters that surrounded the island, allowing the sea water to move through the breakers without causing any damage to the island.[9]

To prevent erosion of the sand from the island, maintenance systems spray material along the coast of the island and also along the Dubai coast. Coastal ecology was recovered with the help of nature itself. These changes began attracting newer species of fishes and also reef formations. Every 6 weeks sea divers go down under water to check the marine life as part of their monitoring process. Precautions were also taken to prevent the process of liquifaction of the sand on the island (below the upper surface). This process of liquifaction was caused by the movement of the rocks and sand and also underwater erosion before and after construction. A Vibro-compaction technique was used to prevent the process of liquifaction.[10] This was carried out in order to hold the island's base together and also to make a strong foundation for further construction.[11]

Construction effects and repercussionsEdit

The construction of the Palm islands along the coast of Dubai has caused several large environmental changes: a reduction in the area's aquatic life, erosion of the coastal soil, and irregular sediment transport along the shore. There is also a dramatic change in wave patterns along the coast of Dubai due to the rock walls constructed around the palm islands: instead of hitting the shores directly, the waves move in an unusual manner around the new obstruction. This has led to the weakening of the shores of Dubai.[12]

The origin of most of the environmental damage stems from disturbed sediment from construction of the Palm islands. The sediment decreased the amount of sunlight filtering down to the sea vegetation and injured the surrounding marine fauna.[13] Environmental disturbances caused by changes in sediment and coastal erosion have attracted the attention of environmental groups such as Greenpeace.[1]

The World Wildlife Fund announced in 2006, "[The] UAE's human pressure on global ecosystems (its ecological footprint) [is] the highest in the world. The country is supposedly at present five times more unsustainable than any other country" (Samarai 2007). It also mentioned that the construction from the start up to date had caused many visible ecological and environmental changes that were a threat to the future.

Remedial measure to protect the coastEdit

To properly manage their shorelines and effects, Dubai relies on its coastal monitoring program. Established in 1997, the Dubai coastal monitoring program began studying the baseline bathymetric (measurement of depth of water in oceans or seas) and topographic survey of the Jumeirah (Dubai) coastline.

Additional data were collected with technological improvements including remote video monitoring of Dubai beaches, sediment sampling and analysis, near shore directional wave and current recordings and intensive measurement exercises at selected locations using Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) equipment. This way they were able to do a constant monitor and check on the continuously changing environmental conditions along the coast of Dubai.[1]


Geography LinksEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "Environmental Impacts of Palm Islands". Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Dubai's Artificial World Islands Are Killing Corals and Pushing Nature Out of the Sea". Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Dubai's artificial islands have high environmental cost". Mongabay. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Dubai Palm Island | HQ Travel Guide". Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  5. ^ "HowStuffWorks "Palm Island Construction"". Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  6. ^ "The World is sinking: Dubai islands 'falling into the sea' - Telegraph". Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  7. ^ "Palm Island Dubai – Palm Tree Island Megastructure Construction". Enggpedia. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  8. ^ "Palm Islands, Dubai — 8th Wonder Of The World | Prime Arena". Archived from the original on 2013-07-22. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  9. ^ "Palm Islands, Dubai - Compression of the Soil". Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  10. ^ "The Palm - Design Build Network". Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  11. ^ "Engineering Challenges: Palm Island". Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  12. ^ "Will the Gulf’s manmade islands sink into the sea? - Your Middle East". Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  13. ^ Bayyinah Salahuddin. "The Marine Environmental Impacts of Artificial Island Construction Dubai, UAE" (PDF). Retrieved 4 October 2017.

External linksEdit