Palm Islands

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Palm Islands with The World and The Universe archipelagos design view

The Palm Islands are two artificial islands in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in the shape of palm trees. The Belgian and Dutch dredging and marine contractors Jan De Nul and Van Oord, were hired to complete construction. The islands are the Palm Jumeirah and the Palm Jebel Ali.

Each settlement will be in the shape of a palm tree, topped with a crescent. The settlements will have a large number of residential, leisure and entertainment centres and will add 520 kilometres of non-public beaches to the city of Dubai.

The two islands will comprise approximately 100,000 cubic metres (3,500,000 cu ft)[dubious ] of rock and sand. All materials will be quarried in The UAE. On the two islands, there will be over 100 luxury hotels, residential beach-side villas and apartments, marinas, water theme parks, restaurants, shopping malls, sports facilities and health spas.

The creation of the Palm Jumeirah began in June 2001. Shortly after, the Palm Jebel Ali was announced and reclamation work began. A third island was planned and construction started, but this project was later remodelled and renamed to Deira Island.

Construction[edit]

Palm Jumeirah, Burj Khalifa and city of Dubai at night. Astronaut photo, 2012

The Palm Islands are artificial islands constructed from sand dredged from the bottom of the Persian Gulf by the Belgian company, Jan De Nul and the Dutch company, Van Oord. The sand is sprayed from the dredging ships, which are guided by a Global Positioning System, on to the required area. The process is known as rainbowing because of the rainbow-like arcs produced in the air when the sand is sprayed. The outer edge of each palm's encircling crescent is a large rock breakwater. The breakwater of the Palm Jumeirah has over seven million tons of rock. Each rock was placed individually by a crane, signed off by a diver and given a Global Positioning System coordinate.[citation needed] The Jan De Nul Group started working on the Palm Jebel Ali in 2002 and had finished by the end of 2006. The reclamation project for the Palm Jebel Ali includes the creation of a four-kilometer-long peninsula, protected by a 200-meter-wide, seventeen-kilometer long circular breakwater. There are 210,000,000 cubic meters of rock, sand and limestone that were reclaimed (partly originating from the Jebel Ali entrance channel dredging work). There are approximately 10,000,000 cubic meters of rocks in the Slope Protection Works.

Palm Jumeirah[edit]

The Palm Jumeirah seen from the International Space Station.

The Palm Jumeirah ( Coordinates: 25°06′28″N 55°08′15″E / 25.10778°N 55.13750°E / 25.10778; 55.13750 ) consists of a tree trunk, a crown with 16 fronds, and a surrounding crescent island that forms an 11 kilometer-long breakwater. The island itself is five kilometers by five kilometers. It adds 78 kilometers to the Dubai coastline.

Residents began moving into Palm Jumeirah properties at the end of 2006, five years after land reclamation began.

A Monorail opened in 2009, but is not connected to other public transport.

Palm Jebel Ali[edit]

Palm Jebel Ali

The Palm Jebel Ali began construction in October 2002 and was expected to be completed in mid-2008.[1][2] The project, which is 50% larger than the Palm Jumeirah project, will include six marinas, a water theme park, a sea village, homes built on stilts, and boardwalks that encircle the fronds of the palm.

Environmental concerns[edit]

The construction of the Palm Islands and The World, for all Nakheel's attempts to do otherwise, have had a clear and significant impact on the surrounding environment. It would be impossible to introduce a change of such magnitude to an established ecosystem and not anticipate any negative changes or reactions in the area's wildlife and natural processes.[citation needed]The construction of the various islands off the coast of Dubai has resulted in changes in area wildlife, coastal erosion and alongshore sediment transport, and wave patterns. Sediment stirred up by construction has suffocated and injured local marine fauna and reduced the amount of sunlight filtered 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 Gulf attempt to move around the new obstruction of the islands. [3][4]

Not surprisingly, Dubai's megaprojects have become a favorite cause of environmentalists. Greenpeace has criticized the Palm Islands' complete and utter lack of sustainability, and Mongabay.com, 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 gulf of 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 .[5]

Structural importance[edit]

The Palm Island is made out of only sand and rocks (no use of concrete to build the island). This was done according to the order of the Prince of Dubai to make it very natural. The Project idea was conceived by the Prince himself and he was the one who came up with the design for the island.[6] The primary objective of construction of the Palm Islands was to increase tourism in Dubai. This importance to tourism was given as the oil reserves in the gulf were getting depleted and hence the Prince of Dubai decided to make tourism as a major revenue turning source for the country. Thereby, leading to the inception of the Palm Islands. The Palm island consisted of resorts, hotels and was a major holiday destination.[7]

Key people involved in the construction process[edit]

  • Robert Berger (Project manager : 2000–2004)
  • Mounir Haidar (Chief of planning)
  • Scott Hutchinson (Apartment Construction engineer from Turner Construction International)[8]

Construction resources involved[edit]

  • 5.5 million cubic metres of rock brought from over 16 quarries in Dubai.
  • 94 million cubic metres of sand brought from deep sea beds 6 nautical miles from the coast of Dubai.[9]

Main constraints[edit]

  • The 9/11 event in the year 2001 resulted in fewer tourists to Dubai, thus hitting hard on their economy. This slowed down the project by a large extent.
  • Another important constraint was the time given for the project was too short, just about 4 years.
  • 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 threats[edit]

  • waves 2 metres high
  • Storm frequency of 1 in 100 years
  • Earthquakes from 6 to 7 on the Richter scale. (Gulf area between Dubai and Iran is prone to earthquakes.)
  • Weak soil due to constant exposure to rising sea water.[10]

Hidden problems[edit]

  • 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 vibrators used to compact the sand and soil).
  • Due to the shape of the island right outside the coast of Dubai, there is loss of coastal shape along the seashore of Dubai.[11]

Obstacles after the island construction[edit]

  • Since the island was built completely on rocks and sand, the construction of buildings on top of it was given a lot of care and concern. The materials used for building was brought to the site on the exact right time of need. Thus making the process very fast without any scope for error. In carrying out such a process, planning was the key factor.[citation needed]
  • Installation of utilities and pipelines were very difficult and laborious.[12]

Risk mitigation[edit]

To counteract with the waves and the constant motion of the sea, wave blockers were built all around the palm 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 stoppers and the island as such were constantly monitored during construction process with the help of deep sea divers. They check for the proper alignment and placement of the rocks beneath the surface to ensure its stability. Shape of the island as it got developed in the middle of the sea was constantly 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.[13] Here the sand from the dredging ships was sprayed on to the land. The whole island was set such that there was no stagnant water between the island and the water breakers. So in order to achieve this, there were small structural modifications done on the breakers that outlined the island. Hence making the sea water to move through in and out of the breakers without causing any damage to the island.[14] To prevent erosion of the soil from the island, there were constant maintenance setups to spray soil along the coast of the island and also along the Dubai coast. Coastal ecology was recovered with the help of nature itself. These changes surprisingly started attracting newer species of fishes and also reef formations. Every 6 weeks sea divers go down under water to check the marine life. This was part of their monitoring process. Hence the aquatic scenario designers took these into consideration and added plus points in making some of the finest coral reef finishes built by man. There were also some precautions that were taken to prevent the process of liquifaction of the sand on the island (below the upper surface). This process of liquifaction was caused due to movement of the rocks and sand and also under water erosions before and after construction. Vibro-compaction technique was the method that was employed to prevent the process of liquifaction.[15] This was carried out in order to hold the composition of the island's base together and also to make a strong foundation for further constructions.[16]

Construction effects and repercussions[edit]

The construction of the Palm islands along the mighty coast of Dubai has resulted in a number of alterations like reduction in area's aquatic life, erosion of the coastal soil and irregular sediment transport along the shore. There is also dramatic change in the wave pattern along the coast of Dubai due to the building of the rock walls around the palm islands. The waves are forced to move in an unusual manner around the new obstruction (here referred to the Palm islands and the rock walls), instead of hitting the shores directly. This has led to the weakening of the shores of Dubai.[17] During construction most of the damage was made due to the sediments that were stirred up. Thereby, leading to suffocation and injury to the surrounding marine fauna. This phenomenon lead to decrease in the amount of sunlight filtered down to the growth of the sea shore's vegetation.[18] Such environmental disturbances have turned the heads of many environmental activists like the Greenpeace and Mongabay.com (Rain forest conservation organisation). These organisations have shown and expressed very strong opinions against the building of the Dubai Palm islands. The World Wildlife Fund made an announcement in 2006, declaring - " UAE's human pressure on global ecosystems (its ecological footprint) to be the highest in the world. The country is supposedly at present five times [in 2007] more unsustainable than any other country" (Samarai 2007). It was also mentioned that the construction from the start up till date has caused so many visible ecological and environmental changes that are becoming a threat for the future.

Remedial measure to protect the coast[edit]

So in order to properly manage their shorelines and effects, Dubai relies on its very advanced coastal monitoring programme. 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. Ever since the coming of the technological advancements, more additional data were able to be collected. These technological improvements include 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 keep check on the continuously changing environmental conditions along the coast of Dubai.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Palm Jebel Ali (Palm Islands, Dubai) - Property Development". The Emirates Network: Ten Real Estate. 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-11. 
  2. ^ "Dubai's Palm and World Islands - progress update". AMEInfo. 4 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  3. ^ "Environmental Impacts of Pals Islands". 
  4. ^ "Dubai's Artificial World Islands Are Killing Corals and Pushing Nature Out of the Sea". 
  5. ^ "Dubai's artificial islands have high environmental cost". Mongabay. 
  6. ^ "Dubai Palm Island | HQ Travel Guide". hqtravel.net. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  7. ^ "YouTube - The Palm Island, Dubai UAE - Megastructure Development". youtube.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  8. ^ http://crgp.stanford.edu/publications/articles_presentations/Ambika_Rose_Orrill_Dubai_multicultural_construction_projects.pdf
  9. ^ "Construction of the Islands - The Impact of the Palm Islands, United Arab Emirates". sites.google.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  10. ^ "HowStuffWorks "Palm Island Construction"". adventure.howstuffworks.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  11. ^ "The World is sinking: Dubai islands 'falling into the sea' - Telegraph". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  12. ^ "Palm Island Dubai - Palm Tree Island Megastructure Construction". enggpedia.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  13. ^ "Palm Islands , Dubai — 8th Wonder Of The World | Prime Arena". eb.archive.org. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  14. ^ "Palm Islands, Dubai - Compression of the Soil". cdmsmith.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  15. ^ "The Palm - Design Build Network". designbuild-network.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  16. ^ "Engineering Challenges: Palm Island". engineeringchallenges.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  17. ^ "Will the Gulf’s manmade islands sink into the sea? - Your Middle East". yourmiddleeast.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  18. ^ http://dukespace.lib.duke.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/10161/104/Salahuddin%20MP%202006.pdf
  19. ^ "Environmental Impacts - The Impact of the Palm Islands, United Arab Emirates". sites.google.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 

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