August 01, 2006

Megastructures: Dubai's Palm Island

Palm Islands
Another in the series about Megastructures from National Geographic . The premise is that Dubai is seeing the end of the barrel as far as oil barrels are concerned , ie in a few years oil will be gone . In this eventuality Dubai needs to reinvent itself as a tourist destination . With its limited coastline there isn't a lot that can be done . So enter the artificial islands to increase the coastline and create more area for development .

The Palm Islands, also referred to as The Palm Dubai and The Palms, are the world's three largest man-made islands, which are being built on the coast of the emirate of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The project is being handled by Al Nakheel Properties (Nakheel Corporation), which will increase Dubai's shoreline by 120km (72 miles) and create a large number of residential, leisure, and entertainment areas. The idea was first announced in May 2002 and the two manmade freehold artificial palm tree-shaped resort islands are expected to maintain Dubai's position as a premium tourist destination. The Palm Islands has also been named 'The Eighth Wonder of the World'.

The two Dubai islands, The Palm Jumeirah and The Palm Jebel Ali, will be built in the shape of date palm trees and consist of a trunk; a crown with 17 fronds; and a surrounding crescent island - the back of which forms the breakwater. Collectively, the island will support more than 60 luxury hotels, 4,000 exclusive residential villas (sale), 1,000 unique water homes (sale), 5,000 shoreline apartments (sale), marinas, water theme parks, restaurants, shopping malls, sports facilities, health spas, cinemas and various dive sites.

Its Development
The project took four years of methodical planning and exhaustive feasibility studies in Dubai, ensuring that the islands would not disrupt the environment. The first stage of the development of The Palm Islands, includes the construction of the land foundations, which involves sand transfer and rock placement. Following this, the next stage will involve the building of infrastructure and services, as well as the 300 meter (990 feet) bridges linking the islands to the mainland. The final stage consists of the construction of homes, townhouses, and apartments.

What this doesn't mention what exactly this grandiose plan entails . The Sheikh who is the progenitor of this plan wanted the whole contruction to be as natural as possible . So the engineers devised method of rock and sand as opposed to a concrete structure to create the islands . It has been a feat in engineering of proportions probably unparalled in the world with technology being created on the fly . For instance how does one ascertain that the substructure is in place , obviously satellite imaging and extensive use of GPS on the ground .

But in this euphoria of man's success over nature one thing has been forgotten completely , the damage it does to the ecology .It doesn't really concern anyone that entire cliffs have been blasted to acquire the rock and sand has been siphoned up from the middle of the ocean to create this superstructure . It doesn't really take a lot of imaginination to come to the conclusion that immense swathes of marine life were probably siphoned off in the process. Widespread quarrying has repurcussions on the land ecology as well . There is an instance in the documentary where they mention that the new landmass is destroying the existing beaches , but no problem we can fix that . Everything fits in like a glove , if the film is to be believed , the new landforms are attracting new marne life , great coral reefs and everything is hunky dory . Well maybe it is and I am the skeptic . After all this image is quite seductive .

But on second thoughts who wants to live in suburb which replaces the roads with waterways , who wants to pay millions of bucks to be huddled next to their neighbour . Well maybe somebody does but then if you want and you can you can have your own island in the WORLD .

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