Dubai Palm Islands

It was the vision of Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who had the idea to build an artificial island in the form of a palm crown in the sea to offer more coastline to the tourists: the Palm Islands are date palm tree shaped and have been developed by Dubai-based real estate developers Al Nakheel Properties. They are the three largest man-made islands being built on the coast of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The planning of this geographic transformation started in 2001 and building in 2005-2009. Hundreds of millions of cubic meters of rock, sand and limestone were moved from the Persion Gulf and relocated. The project costs led up to about 1.8 billion dollars. The geographic manipulation has interfered with marine life on a great level and created documented raises in salinity levels for water, which led to an increase of carbon footprint due to increases in desalination plants. Another impact regarding the lack of attention to the marine biota is the potential destruction of fauna and flora of the Gulf, pushing ecosystems away in order to gain more real estate. Currently, the World Islands (another one of Nakheel’s projects) are sinking into the sea.

Contributed by Amelia Puhr
Course: Modern Global Environmental History
Instructor: Dr. Wilko Graf von Hardenberg
University of Wisconsin–Madison, US

Further Readings: 
  • Salahuddin, Bayyinah. “The Marine Environmental Impacts of Artificial Island Construction: Dubai, UAE.” Master Project, Duke University, 2006.
  • Purkis SJ, Riegl B (2005) Spatial and temporal dynamics of Arabian Gulf coral assemblages quantified from remote-sensing and in situ monitoring data (Jebel Ali, Dubai, U.A.E.). Marine Ecology Progress Series 287:99-113.
  • Riegl, B. (1998) A new reef marine reserve in the southern Arabian Gulf: Jebel Ali, Dubai (UAE). Coral Reefs 17(4): 398.