The Palm Islands are the only islands in the world constructed to look like Palm trees. They consist of two islands called Palm Jumeirah and Palm Jebel Ali. The islands are not there just for aesthetic purposes but they are also creating a large number of residential, leisure and entertainment centres on the island. Combining the two islands, there will be over 100 luxury hotels, beach-side villas and apartments, marinas, water parks, restaurants, shopping centres, sport centres and health spas.
To construct these islands, sand was dredged from the bottom of the Persian Gulf by the two main companies involved, the Belgian company Jan De Nul and the Dutch company Van Oord. To get the sand from the bottom of the Gulf, they used a process called rainbowing. This involved the guiding of the sand that sprayed from the ships into the correct areas using a Global Positioning System. The outer edge of each island is a large rock breakwater. To create this, each rock was placed individually by a crane and then confirmed by a diver.
The construction of this island began in June 2001 and by October 2007 this island became the world’s largest artificial island. This is the original of the three palm islands and now is the smallest of the three. It measures five by five kilometres and the total area of the island is similar to eight hundred football pitches. The island is now home to many different residential, entertainment and leisure facilities including luxury hotels for tourists to visit. Palm Jumeirah is also home to the first monorail in the Middle East. It connects the island to the mainland.
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Palm Jebel Ali
The constructors began building this island in October 2002 and were expected to be finished by mid-2008 but the project is still on hold. Once finished this island is predicted to be 50% bigger than Palm Jumeirah and it will consist of six marinas, a water park, a Sea Village and boardwalks. The Sea Village is houses built on stilts above the water which will be particularly interesting to tourists. Around November 2008, houses on this island significantly dropped by 40% due to the slowing Dubai property market. Once completed Palm Jebel Ali should home approximately 250,000 people.
Even though both companies had many attempts to do otherwise, both these islands have had a massive impact on the environment around them. The creation of these islands has led to changes in wildlife, coastal erosion and wave patterns. Due to the dredging and repositioning of the sand in construction, the waters surrounding the islands have become very murky. This is then leading to the damaging of wildlife habitats, burying of the coral reefs, oyster beds and other vegetation which is having a long lasting effect on the marine life around the coastline.
The main design for both these islands were proposed by the Prince of Dubai and he wanted the construction materials to be natural hence the use of rocks and sand. The primary purpose was to increase tourist activity in Dubai. The Prince of Dubai decided to make tourism the main income of the country due to the oil reserves dwindling out.
While these islands are causing many debates about the damage to the surrounding environment, they are improving the economy of Dubai. Tourism is now a major revenue source for the island so increasing the amount of residential areas, leisure and entertainment facilities are going to bring tourists to the island. The islands themselves are also going to improve the economy because tourists will come to see the only palm tree shaped islands in the world.