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Construction on the palm islands began in 2001. Divers surveyed the seabed and worke­rs constructed a crescent-shaped breakwater from blasted mountain rock. The Crescent of Palm Jumeirah stands a little more than 13 feet above low tide sea level and sits in 34 feet of water at its deepest point.



Palm Islands are two artificial islands, Palm Jumeirah and Palm Jebel Ali, on the coast of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. As of November 2014, 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; both islands will be host to a large number of residential, leisure and entertainment centers and will add a total of 520 kilometers of non-public beaches to the city of Dubai.



In 2001, there was nothing off the coast of Dubai but warm, shallow gulf water. Then Nakheel, a local real estate conglomerate, dredged 3 billion cubic feet of sand from the seafloor and used GPS precision to shape it a 17-fronded palm tree. Seven million tons of mountain rock was piled around the island to form a crescent-shaped breakwater seven miles long, designed to protect the newborn island from waves and storms.

To facilitate tourism and make life easier for residents, the six-lane Sub-Sea Tunnel connects Palm Jumeirah to the mainland. Workers used a dam to drain the area and excavate the seabed before rereleasing the water. Developers have plans for a four-stop monorail that will race the length of the palm.


Environmentalists have criticized many Dubai megaprojects, but perhaps none moreso than the Palm Islands. The massive dredging required to build the island has drastically changed the wave, temperature, and erosion patterns in the Persian Gulf, and a whole square mile of coral was killed.

The Palm Islands Dubai

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Saad Iqbal

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